“I believe trauma-informed care is the way. Your experiences and your feelings are valid, but your trauma does not define your future!”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
In college, I worked for a sexual assault advocacy center and a non-profit for women of color in Chicago before applying to grad school for my Master’s in Counseling. While the work is important to expand resources for survivors, I didn’t enjoy seeing someone’s story become a debate because it didn’t show how that person made sense of their experience. It was pretty disempowering and disheartening. Since a lot of this work involved law and policy, the issues are black-and-white, and when we see things in black-and-white, we neglect nuance and human emotion. I want to hold a private space free from judgment, speculation, and black-and-white thinking, and for people to come to their own conclusions to decide what is best for them.
What should someone know about working with you?
There’s no quick fix. Yes, there are tools to cope with depression and anxiety, but what works for someone else, may not work for you, and that’s okay too. We come to therapy to get a sense of the chaos within ourselves, within the world, and see what we can do about it. But the real skill is sitting with discomfort of the things we cannot control. There is no magic wand. There is no magic cure. Therapy is you and another human supporting you with narrating your story. We’re talking about 20+ chapters in one book that is your life in a 45-60 minute session, and life happens between sessions too. That takes time. So finding what works for you is also going to take time. To support you with being heard and addressing areas to work on, I provide CBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) skills, and EMDR in our work together. To follow the natural flow of conversation, some days we may work on something, and some days we may not, to empower you with identifying what you need day-to-day.
What do you do to continue learning and building competencies as a provider?
I am currently in training to become certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. I have completed basic training with the EMDR Institute and I am taking active steps to receive certification with the EMDR International Association. In addition to learning a new approach to therapy, I engage in cultural competency training, eating disorder training, and additional training for licensure in other states to expand my scope of practice. I also receive supervision from other clinicians regularly to make sure I’m being effective in my care.
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
I recently finished, Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown, which made me realize that we are afraid of being honest or doing things that align with our own values instead of others’ values, because we fear rejection, confrontation, and losing people in our circle. It can be a blow to our self-esteem and self-worth when people are mad at us or disagree with our choices, especially when they are people closest to us. We end up doing things that make them satisfied or content in the hopes of not losing them from our lives. When we do things that appease others’ instead of what brings us joy, it is no wonder we struggle with anxiety and depression. I’ve never truly “belonged”, and that’s because I grew up defying others’ expectations of what a South Asian American woman is supposed to be, both to people within and outside the cultural diaspora. By standing in my truth, I made the decision to not be a caricature of a stereotype. Fundamentally, I am responsible for my own happiness, other people are not. Likewise, I am not responsible for others’ happiness either. I can still honor my culture and do things that make me happy. I encourage my clients to do the same. When we belong to ourselves, we don’t belong to one community, we belong to the world.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
I’m most excited about the growing intersection between mental health and social issues because it’s a little known secret within the therapist community that they’ve always been connected to each other. Now that more people are coming to seek help, we are raising consciousness about how these broader issues are real issues that affect real people.
What do you enjoy most about being a therapist?
I’m blessed to be trusted with the stories of people whose lives are vastly different from mine. Being in this field has taught me that no one exists in a vacuum. We don’t know what we don’t experience. Clients are the storytellers. It’s important that we get to narrate our own story on our own terms. As a therapist, I’m in a position of knowing the complexity of the human experience, and this is a knowledge that many who are not in this profession do not have. It’s a privilege, and with great power comes great responsibility to give everyone ethical care.
“I enjoy working with women of color who are navigating workplace trauma and self-worth as well as clients who are struggling with eating disorders or disordered eating.”