The Counseling Alliance of Virginia

Lorena Suarez-Cabrera

Lorena Suarez-Cabrera, Ph.D., QMHP - C

Community Based Counselor

Dery Lorena Suárez-Cabrera (mostly known as Lorena Suárez-Cabrera) is a psychologist with a degree from the National University of Colombia. Lorena has lived in different parts of Columbia, where she worked providing psychosocial care and in processes of reconstruction of historical memory with victims of the armed conflict. During her stay in Santiago de Chile, she studied for a Master in Community Psychology and a Doctorate in Social Sciences at the University of Chile. she has been working for many years with immigrant people, especially with their children. 

Lorena has lived for several years in Richmond, and has participated in different community organizations that provide support to the Spanish-speaking community in the city and surrounding counties; she has volunteered with the Sacred Heart Center, where she also took a Latino Leadership course with Father Jack Podsiadlo, S.J. she designed and developed workshops about identity, cultural roots, and leadership for teenagers who were arriving in the country in 2019-2020, which were sponsored by the City of Richmond’s Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) and Richmond Public Schools (RPS).

As an immigrant in both Chile and the U.S.A., Lorena understands the needs and characteristics of these immigrant families. As a professional, Lorena has the tools and knowledge to work and support the wellness of the immigrant community, as well as its mental health. Those are some of the reasons I love to work with the Spanish-speaking community. 

Lorena has worked as a counselor for migrant families and their children with CAVA since 2019, providing emotional support and psychoeducational input, using different tools of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Trauma-Focused Therapy. Her work with Latino families has allowed me to think about how the lack of understanding about cultural diversity, as well as social injustices, affect the mental health of the family members. For example, one of the obstacles that children and teens have to face is the prevalence of negative stereotypes about being “Latino” or “Hispanic”, often encountered by them in their schools and communities, which can affect their self-esteem and their relationships. Their parents’ socioeconomic status, education levels, and cultural barriers, combined with these negative stereotypes, can lead to mental health issues. 

It is crucial to Lorena that our children learn about their family roots, how they came here, and what is the social and cultural heritage of the Latino-American immigrants. Lorena strongly believes that love doesn’t have borders, and the solidarity between families and communities help us to grow in communion and harmony in this world made of many smaller worlds. 

Lorena deeply enjoys handmade crafts and makes her own earrings and necklaces. Lorena loves to walk in the parks of the Richmond area or going to the James River with her husband and her daughter, and she also enjoys sharing moments with my faraway family. Lorena enjoys dancing, reading Latin-American literature, and learning about the great Native American cultures, such as the Incas, Mayas, and Aztecs. 

“Scientists say that we are made of atoms, but a little bird told me that we are made of stories.” – Eduardo Galeano

“Los científicos dicen que estamos hechos de átomos, pero a mí un pajarito me contó que estamos hechos de historias“, dijo alguna vez Eduardo Galeano