Local therapist to host workshop on BIPOC wellness during awareness month

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Racial trauma passes down through generations and takes form in people’s minds and bodies, Lawrence therapist Nicole Rials says.

“We are still recovering from the systemic issues that our ancestors faced and we continue to face in the forms of biases and microaggressions and systemic racism — things that still happen,” said Rials, owner of K.N. Rials Therapy and Consulting LLC.

July is BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Mental Health Month. That’s why Rials has organized a free workshop this month focused first on recognizing how generational trauma manifests and second on casting away the stigma within communities of color that seeking help equates to weakness, she said.

“People feel like when they express their emotions, when they express their mental health needs, when they express their moods that they’re not validated often,” Rials said. “It’s important to recognize that we have emotion, we have feelings, we have mental health needs, and to affirm that and validate that is part of what this month can do as well.”

The workshop, “BIPOC Soul: Affirming, Navigating, Restoring our mental health and wellness,” welcomes BIPOC folks in the Lawrence-Douglas County area. Participants will hear from three wellness professionals and participate in activities to learn healthy ways to tap into their emotions.

Nicole Rials, LSCSW

Rials will be teaching about the ways in which historical trauma and systemic racism impact the mental health of people of color. Throughout her more than 20 years of experience working in mental health, Rials said she’s given her patients space to be vulnerable, dismissing any shame attached to that.

People shouldn’t feel they have to put their trauma “on the shelf,” she said.

“I really try to work and help people learn how to navigate whatever their situation is, understanding that they don’t have to suppress the emotion. What we have to be able to do is learn to navigate it — to carry it as part of our healing, as part of our recovery and our restoration.”

Rials will be joined at the workshop by Lawrence physician Dr. Walter Ingram as well as dancer and fitness trainer Azia Gambrell. Ingram will give guidance on how people can talk to their primary doctors about their mental health concerns, including questions to ask and what they should expect in return. Gambrell will lead a conversation about merging physical wellness with mental wellness through exercise, breathing techniques, stretching and more.

“Really the idea is for people to be able to leave that space with something very practical that they can begin using immediately, so that’s what we’re hoping to provide,” Rials said.

Participants will be able to fellowship with one another throughout the workshop. They will also have plenty of opportunities to ask the three featured professionals any questions they may have, Rials said.

The BIPOC Soul workshop is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 22 at 409 Boutique Venue, a Black-owned event space located at 409 E. 12th St. in Lawrence. Participation is free of cost.

Rials asks those interested in participating to register via Google forms. Registration will remain open up until the event starts.

The workshop is part of a series of BIPOC wellness events Rials is currently working on. It’s sponsored by a grant from the United Way of Kaw Valley Racial Equity Community Fund that she received through her partnering agency, Life Restoration Ministries, or LRM Foundation. 

Click here to register for the workshop. Visit the Facebook event page to stay updated with the workshop and visit knrialsconsulting.com to learn more about K.N. Rials Therapy and Consulting LLC.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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