LIVING RELATIONALLY, WITH LOVING KINDNESS
Before you continue, please take a moment here to honor the efforts, needs and intentions that let you to this place. You are taking a significant step toward addressing something that's both difficult and important in your life.
How does psychotherapy work? There is an increasing consensus in this field that an individual's cognitive insight (thinking) alone is often insufficient to create transformational, lasting change. Rather, we need to invite the full awareness into the therapy room, both evoking and working internally with our full, embodied experiences and seeking to experience the self externally in relation to partner, family, society and culture.
This is why my work with you emphasizes the experiential and the relational. And always with respect and loving kindness.
While I have in-depth trainings in multiple approaches and specialties and have many, many tools to help you, the following three areas stand out as foundational blocks for my psychotherapy work: systems psychology, attachment theory, and Hakomi mindful somatic psychotherapy.
Systems psychology explores and understands individual experiences in the relational context, from the different parts within a person to couple-hood, family system, community and larger societal and cultural contexts. I also seek to understand these experiences in a client's developmental context and their multigenerational family history. Some of the essential questions are: what identities/needs/roles do these different parts have? how do these different parts interact? what are some of the repetitive patterns? how have patterns maintained over time? Luckily, unlike machines, a living organism - individuals or families or societies - has the innate drive and wisdom to re-organize toward self-healing and growth.
Attachment theory is focused on the relationships and emotional bonds between people. It holds that attachment needs are fundamental to our lifelong wellbeing, and no matter what your "attachment style" was/is, you have an innate capacity for and can learn to develop secure, healthy adult relationships. Therapy can not only identify barriers to secure attachment but also provide experiential opportunities to practice secure attachment in the here and now.
Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy believes that a person can gain an understanding of themselves that is not just the conscious, intellectual knowledge, but is the awareness of the deeper self that includes beliefs, nervous system patterns, memories, images, emotions and attitudes about self and the world. My goal as your therapist is to assist you in fulling experiencing the liveliness in all these dimensions, discovering and exploring such core material and transforming what was once adaptive and essential but is now self-limiting and maladaptive, to allow more freedom and satisfaction in life.
I work with couples to address high conflict communication, intimacy issues, parenting differences, significant adjustments (e.g., becoming parents, parenting adolescents, launching young adults, cultural adjustment, and career change), betrayal, grief and loss (e.g., fertility challenges; miscarriage; illness; death in the family), extended family relationship, mixed race couples, blended families, etc.
Couple therapy is a specialty. As such, it requires skills and experiences significantly different from, and in addition to, those for individual therapy. I have received extensive trainings in couple therapy, including some of the most impactful and empirically validated couples therapy approaches (Hakomi experiential couple therapy, Gottman Couple Therapy, Relational Life Therapy by Terry Real, and the Developmental Model by Couples Institute) (see details here). I also incorporate elements of collaborative couple therapy (Dan Wile, David Treadway, etc.), somatic experiencing, EFT, PACT, etc. in my work. I continue to prioritize professional development in this area.
"Great marriages aren’t about clear communication – they’re about small moments of attachment and intimacy."
– John Gottman
"Listen to that part of you that can't think. Perhaps it will tell you more about yourself."
- Greg Johanson and Ron Kurtz, in "Grace Unfolding: Psychotherapy in the Spirit of the Tao-te ching" (1991)
GRIEF, LOSS AND LIFE TRANSITIONS
My work with individuals and families focuses on grief, loss and life transitions. Depression, anxiety and relational dissatisfactions are commonly experienced in these difficult situations.
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 exclusively on grief and loss, ranging from spouse loss, child loss, suicide loss and sudden death to end of life issues, victims of crimes and other traumatic grief cases. 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.
Life Transitions: Transition is our inner process to cope with external changes. I work with phase-of-life transitions such as emerging adulthood, new family formation, becoming parents, and retirement. In addition, I work with individuals on their significant relationship or career 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.
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, having lived and worked in different cultures and places of the world, and my career development and transition through multiple professional careers, all together, 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.
Quote of the Month - November 2023:
"Those who trust us, educate us.”