Forest Trees



Navigating the Challenges of

Grief/Loss, Relationship Conflicts, Life Stages and Cultural Issues

I work with both individuals and couples/families.  My work focuses on the following three areas of personal and relational distress.  Depression, anxiety and maladaptive coping are common in all these areas.

(1) Grief and Loss:  I work primarily with traumatic and complex grief and anticipatory grief, both in individual therapy and with families.  My clinical work with grief started at Kara, a Palo Alto based grief agency, where for three years I worked extensively with spouse loss, child loss, suicide loss, sudden death, victims of crimes, and other traumatic grief clients.  I also facilitated grief groups for spouse loss, suicide loss and teen grief.  Outside of my private practice, I remain a member of Kara’s community outreach team and continue to facilitate debriefings for local companies, organizations and families to address difficult death/crisis situations, including, most recently, pandemic impact and hate crimes.

(2) Life Transition:  Transition is our inner process to cope with external changes.  I work with phase-of-life transitions including emerging adulthood, new family formation, becoming parents, retirement, and career transition.  In addition, I work with individuals on their significant relationship changes.  Transition starts with an ending, develops through an often long “in-betweens” before the start of a new beginning.  A challenging transition often involves grief and loss about the ending as well as anxiety and ambivalence about the adjustment and future.

(3) Couples Therapy:  I work with couples to address infidelity, high conflict communication, intimacy issues, parenting conflict, significant adjustments (e.g., becoming parents, retirement, and career change), grief and loss (e.g., fertility challenges; miscarriage; illness; death in the family), extended family relationship, mixed race couples, blended families, etc.  This psychotherapy modality puts the relationship dynamics front and center while requiring skilled attunement to each partner.  These multiple challenges are often unfamiliar to therapists without training in this modality.  I have completed significant training with The Gottman Institute (Level I and Level II) (link) and the Couples Institute (Menlo Park, CA) and more recently, additional specialized training in sexuality and intimacy with Dr. Marty Klein (link).  I continue to prioritize professional development in this area, including frequent workshops with leading couples therapists and an ongoing consultation group with Terry Real.

Culture, Race and Ethnicity.  My clients are a good representation of the cultural diversity in the SF Bay Area.  Cultural issues challenge more than just immigrants (new or old), minorities, or mix-racial families but ALL of us regardless of our race or ethnicity.  My experiences as an immigrant and world traveler, living and working in different cultures and places of the world, and developing and transitioning through multiple professional careers have cultivated my capacity for compassion, empathy and curiosity.  I genuinely seek to understand each individual, couple and family from multiple lens including family history, socioeconomic background, education, race and ethnicity, culture, gender identity and assumptions, and phase of life.  I offer psychotherapy in Mandarin if that’s your preferred language of care and self-expression.

One frequent question I get asked by prospective clients is what “approach” or “school” I use in my work.  My answer is always “it depends.”  I have skills and experiences in multiple psychotherapy orientations and approaches, such as psychodynamics, narrative therapy, structural family system, couples therapy, attachment theory, CBT, DBT, existential psychotherapy, person-centered psychotherapy, post-modern approaches, mindfulness, to name a few, but no single approach works for all clients.  Each client is a unique castle and kingdom to me, and I take time to walk around it, with care, curiosity and respect, to appreciate both the beauty and the pain I notice, take in different perspectives, and gradually find the doors that are most open and can lead me to the innermost of the kingdom.

In psychotherapy, we process and learn to cope with challenging feelings and relational conflicts.  We experiment, adapt, gain new perspectives, or heal - sometimes all of the above.  And we always grow.  Indeed, this process can be a transformational and meaning-creating journey in ways one never knew was possible.

Every story is unique and complicated, and every story needs to be told, heard, honored and sometimes, rewritten.  It is in this process that we accomplish the paradoxical yet inseparable pair: change and acceptance, the pair that defines personal growth.

Two Dried Leaves

Quote of the Month

- May 2021:

"If I let myself really understand another
person, I might be changed by that

          - Carl Rogers, "On Becoming a Person"