“Often, people come to me seeking some method to "fix" their lives.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
My path to becoming a therapist began with my lived experiences as both a queer person and a child of a poor immigrant. I witnessed firsthand the impact of prolonged oppression on people in my communities, which drew me to social work. I combined my education with direct service and outreach, starting with roles in LGBTQ community centers and community mental health clinics. I learned more and more through these experiences that my calling was to work with people one-on-one, focusing on trauma alleviation. Formal training in dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) primed me with tools to assist clients with emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal communication. After over 3,000 therapy sessions with my clients, I have found that using my skills in combination with unpacking childhood trauma and attachment can be a pathway toward healing and vitality.
What should someone know about working with you?
Our work together will center first on the stories in your life that have defined the way you see yourself. Through this storytelling and the exploration of the patterns and themes within those narratives, we'll uncover what is begging to be looked at. I know this process can be scary or overwhelming to some, so I am incredibly intentional about maintaining a grounded space full of validation. Often, people come to me seeking some method to "fix" their lives. I find that the most powerful "fix" is one where we learn to understand the stories we are ashamed of and the impact they have had throughout the course of our lives. That paradigm shift from shame to understanding and acceptance can change not only the way we view ourselves but also the way we move in relation to others.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I am a lifelong learner and strongly believe that ongoing education, both formal and informal, is integral to providing the best care. I’ve completed a 120-hour training in child development at Borough of Manhattan Community College to strengthen my understanding of early childhood attachment and its lasting effects on physical, emotional, and social development. I also collaborate weekly with a team of two other clinicians to share clinical ideas and best practices. As an avid reader, I build competency by reading titles related to the communities I serve and the issues I’m invested in. The books I continuously revisit include Codependency No More by Melody Beattie, Trauma Stewardship by Connie Burk and Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, and The Revolution Starts at Home edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
Anti-oppression and social justice are at the core of my values. As such, I consciously take into account broader social contexts impacting my clients alongside the processing of their personal stories. It is important to me to provide access to mental health support for marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC, LGBTQ individuals, and sex workers. As a mental health practitioner, I acknowledge the histories of harm the mental health field has inflicted upon those communities and work to bring that acknowledgement into the care I provide. I am a light-skinned Asian queer clinician. I try my best to address how my social identity may influence the therapeutic relationship and the ways in which we can both use our identities as tools for the healing process.
“I find that the most powerful "fix" is one where we learn to understand the stories we are ashamed of and the impact they have had throughout the course of our lives.”