Rhea V. Almeida
Rhea V. Almeida, MS, Ph.D., founder of Institute for Family Services, is a family therapist, trainer and educator. Creator of a Liberation Based Healing Perspective in family therapy, Dr. Almeida is the author of numerous journal articles and four books: Expansions of Feminist Theory Through Diversity, Transformations in Gender and Race: Family and Developmental Perspectives and co-author of Transformative Family Therapy: Just Families in a Just Society.
Her recent book Liberation Based Practices, came out April 2019, available on Amazon! She is acknowledged internationally and nationally for her work on decoloniality/Intersectionality – in therapeutic and policy practices. She is a co-founder of the national Liberation Based Healing Conference currently in its 16th year!
The Liberation Based Healing Conference, known for its inspiring, highly regarded speakers, returned as an in-person event on November 4 and 5, 2022, at California State University, Northridge.
Year after year, the Liberation Based Healing Conference brings together therapists and other health practitioners, community activists and organizers, educators, faith and community leaders, students and others in a collaborative, culturally affirming and empowering space. It is one of the only conferences that focus almost solely on integrating Indigenous cultural healing with mainstream psychology.
Founded by Dr. Rhea Almeida, director of the Institute for Family Services, located in New Jersey, and her colleagues, the conference grew out of a general disillusionment by scholars, and those they were serving, with mainstream conferences in the mental health fields (psychology, family therapy, counseling). Participants engage in dialogue education with a focus on relational healing that embraces critical consciousness, empowerment and accountability. They also receive CEUs and get a chance to network with their peers from around the country.
The 17th annual conference opened with an informative overview of liberation based healing practices that engaged attendees and set the stage for a day of exploration and inspiration.
The discussion Articulating the View and Structures of Liberatory Healing Practices was led by Dr. Rhea Almeida and moderated by conference co-host Dr. Jose Paez. They were joined by panelists Ohlaysha Hicks, Deja Amos and Nicole Russo.
“We had a great response to our first panel, which kicked off two powerful days of learning and networking,” says Dr. Almeida. “Many of the participants expressed a desire to return to our conference next year, and advance their studies in liberation based healing throughout the year.”
One attendee, a long-standing client of Dr. Almeida’s, took the opportunity to share with the group his personal growth as part of a men’s therapy group. “Rhea has sent me information about the conference, which was only about seven or eight miles away from where I now live. I had met her years ago when I was living in New Jersey,” says a retired structural engineer. “Rhea had helped me work through some issues that had been bothering me and introduced me to the concept of therapy in a group setting.
“It is a totally different approach. I am in a men’s group, and we really help each other out rather than letting anger and anxiety build. I attended the conference just to say ‘hi’ but ended up staying for some of the panels. I raised my hand and explained to the attendees that I was there as a patient, not as a therapist, and that I wanted to vouch as a patient that liberation based healing is a highly successful program. What is most extraordinary is how we are each responsible and accountable. Because of the group I am in. I have made a lot of new friends too.”
Attendees were intrigued and delighted by a work of art created live during the conference by street artist Kristy Sandoval, who was also a panelist on the discussion Living Liberatory Experience Through the Matrix of Dance, Film and Art.
They were also inspired by a performance by the Urban Jazz Dance Company, an LA-based group of deaf dancers, led by Antoine Hunter, who also served on a panel.