Welcome to Asian Psychotherapy
I have a special expertise in working with Asian Americans and their families. My identity as an Asian Psychotherapist has helped me better understand and appreciate the challenges Asians in the United States face.
Non-Asian clients often also seek my service because of my unique worldview that helps them realize their inner resources.
It is my goal to provide the most effective therapy service for people in need, regardless of cultural background, Asian and non-Asian alike.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, my specialty is in helping people repair relationships that have been unsatisfying for them. It can be a couple battling with trust issues while trying to recover from an affair. It can be a parent desperately trying to figure out why his/her child keeps making the same poor decisions. Or it can be an intimate relationship that has simply lost its spark over the years. My ultimate goal is to help you become the happy person that you deserve to be.
Arrange an initial consultation, I look forward to speaking with you.
I help people understand the dynamics of their relationships
I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, with a special expertise working with Asian American families, couples, and individuals practicing in Burlingame, CA.
I also have over a decade of experience working with adolescents and their families as a psychotherapist and supervisor in the San Francisco and Peninsula area. Originally from Hong Kong and bilingual in Cantonese, I have the personal experience of living in 2 very different cultures and understand the struggles many Asian American families go through. It is my goal and dedication to provide therapy service that is suitable for each family in need.
The Way We Work:
Stereotypically speaking, the Western therapist is more “laid back” and “passive”. The goal is to create a supportive atmosphere where clients can find their own answers. On the other hand, in our experience working with many clients, we find ourselves being able to work more effectively when we provide more direct guidance for their issues. Although we can be more directive when we see appropriate, we never lose sight of each client’s uniqueness, so that we can strike the right balance between respecting their values and challenging them to deeper exploration. Even though we specialize in providing therapy for Asian Americans, we work comfortably in a variety of cultures.
As stated above, I work with people from from all cultures. The fact that I am Asian and speak Cantonese has allowed me to reach the Asian population very successfully. On the other hand, cultural diversity is not just about working within one’s own culture. In that regard, I am very fortunate to have worked with people from all walks of life, including clients of different ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, sexual orientations, life experiences, etc. Through my privileged experience of working with such vast backgrounds of people, I have learned to develop a cultural awareness that is conducive to the positive change that clients come to my office for.
I consider myself a Psychodynamic and Relational Therapist in that I help people understand the dynamics of their families and interpersonal relationships with others. Therapy is a microcosm and direct reflection of your life in which many of your behavior patterns and attitudes will emerge. Instead of allowing them to cause dysfunction in your life, in the context of therapy, you will feel the safety where you can take a genuine look at your struggles, and we can then work together to examine those patterns and explore constructive alternatives to replace them.
Couple’s Therapy –
If you’re in a struggling relationship, it’s likely there are times when you feel trapped. How often do you feel like giving up, or just telling yourself the relationship is doomed, no matter what? On top of it all, there are plenty of myths and stereotypes surrounding couple’s therapy. Unfortunately, these cliches have gotten into the heads of many couples who could work things out with the right techniques and resources.
No one ever wants to see a relationship end, when it could thrive with just a few changes. It’s time to look at couple’s therapy in a new light, without all the old lingering stereotypes. There are many benefits to learning these skills, both individually, and in a relationship. It doesn’t matter whether you’re young, old, in a long-term relationship or just starting, gay, straight, etc. It can be beneficial for everyone! Let’s cover a few of the biggest benefits you’ll be able to receive when you give couple’s therapy a chance.
It Can Change Your Perspective
Oftentimes, arguments and problems that occur in a relationship are a matter of perspective. We all see things differently – that’s what makes us unique. Frequently, it’s also what allows us to complement one another in relationships. However, when you don’t attempt to see things the way your partner does, it becomes nearly impossible for a disagreement to get sorted out. Instead, you get stuck playing “the blame game.”
Couple’s therapy can help you to change the way you see things, and listen to what your partner has to say from an objective standpoint. Assuming they are automatically attacking you, or that they always have a completely different opinion is a recipe for disaster. Instead, learning the tools and resources that can help to shift your perspective can make a huge difference in the way you disagree.
You’ll Learn Correct Behaviors
None of us are perfect, and couple’s therapy can’t make you or your partner that way, either. However, it does teach you to modify destructive behaviors within your relationship. Therapists will try to change the way you behave around your partner for the better. This includes everything from your daily interactions, to making sure you don’t cause harm to one another (emotionally or physically).
You Can Open Up Freely
Some people have a harder time being vulnerable than others. Unfortunately, if someone (or both people) in a relationship is keeping things bottled up inside, It’s only a matter of time before it explodes. This can either cause huge arguments, or keep couples at a distance. Not openly expressing your feelings is one of the biggest reasons couples tend to ‘grow apart.’
I will use techniques and tools designed to help you and your partner showcase your feelings, in general, and toward one another. The more open you learn to be, the easier the lines of communication can flow freely.
You Will Focus on Your Strengths
When you’re in a tight spot within your relationship, it may be impossible to see the light at all. You may think that there are no ‘good’ parts of your relationship, but that is rarely the case. Sometimes, it just takes the right person and resources to bring those good aspects to the surface. A qualified couple’s therapist will bring the strengths of your relationship to the surface, and teach you how to focus on them, instead of your weaknesses.
It’s easy to fall into despair when your relationship isn’t where you want it to be. However, it doesn’t have to crumble completely. Take a long look at your relationship, and consider what you really want before giving up on it completely. The benefits of couple’s therapy are greater than most people realize, and well worth the experience.
Why do we keep arguing over the same things day after day? Why does he/she seem not to care anymore? How did we drift so far apart? Where is the person that I was so in love with before? Is it going to just end here?
These are very common questions for people to ask before they enter Couples Therapy. Your marriage is a commitment and an enormous emotional investment that is worth fighting for. With the eminent divorce rate in the United States, it is normal for people to question whether they have what it takes to stay together in the long run.
Couples Therapy + Marriage Counseling Burlingame
Some common concerns that people bring to Couples Therapy include:
- Extramarital affairs
- Ongoing arguments
- Role distribution
- Need for personal space
- Emotional emptiness/distance
- Parenting issues
- Empty nest
In Couples Therapy, you will learn skills to restore clarity, trust, and intimacy in the relationship; I will teach you to get what you want in your marriage; by the same token, you will also learn to meet your partner’s needs, so it will become a mutually satisfying relationship again.
Therapy is a microcosm and direct reflection of your life.
Finding yourself in the same kind of hurtful relationship time after time? Not being able to move on from the past? The fear of failure is keeping you from pursuing the life that you deserve? Feeling uncertain how you’ll ever get out of this depression?
Although many people with mental disorders go to therapy to get help, the majority of the people in therapy are not diagnosable with an emotional disorder. They are simply people who have problems, just like you and me, and need a place where they can talk about their thoughts and feelings, so they can regain some clarity and perspective in life. Some common problems that people come to therapy for are:
- Going through a painful break up
- Lacking a sense of direction in life
- Worries that won’t go away
- Losing a loved one
- Working through excessive and unhealthy “habits” (e.g. alcohol/substance and eating)
- Issues with family of origin
With over a decade of experience as a psychotherapist, I have to say that therapy is not for everyone. However, those who choose to give themselves a chance to experience the process of therapy tend to come out with a better understanding of what they have to do to solve their problems and to get more satisfaction out of life.
Is it impossible for your child to listen to you although you have their best interest at heart? Does your teenager keep making the same bad mistakes over and over? Wondering what happened to the little angels they used to be? Feeling like you have exhausted all the options in terms of parenting?
Adolescence is a period marked by the desire to become independent and self-sufficient. It is a dramatic transition for both the parents and the teenagers because the needs of the teens have become more confusing and unpredictable, even for themselves. Naturally, parents want to help by trying to be more involved in their child’s life, but it is often met by resistance and rebellion. Some common problems in adolescence include:
- Unexplainable outbursts of emotions
- High risk behaviors (e.g. drugs/alcohol and being sexually active)
- Losing a sense of direction in life
- Isolating behavior (e.g. refusing to participate in family activities or running away)
During a time of transition, adolescent psychotherapy can be immensely helpful because it allows the teens to express themselves without feeling judged and to learn to make responsible decisions. By having a safe and trusting place that is outside of home, many teenagers can sort through their own problems while becoming more respectful and independent.
You may ask: “Why can’t my kid talk to me directly?” That is a fair question because it is often a painful reality for parents to realize that their kids are growing up and may not need as much of their guidance. The trick in better understanding your kids is to learn when to pull and when to let go. Once your kids understand that you are not trying to dominate their lives, they would feel more comfortable sharing their problems with you and accepting your support.
Do you feel out of touch with your family? Does your partner seem too busy or occupied in his/her own world? Your kids no longer interested in spending time with you?Wondering where the communication and understanding have gone in the family?
A family goes through many phases that require constant adjusting; from the honeymoon period between a couple to planning to have children; from deciding ways to discipline their teenagers to dealing with in-law issues. During adjustments like that, families can get caught in the mundane logistics of life and start developing problems in their relationships with each other, such as:
- Parenting a child with a learning disability or behavior problems
- Hostile or lack of communication between parents and children
- Extended family issues (e.g. In-laws)
- Constant misunderstanding between family members
- Clash of values between mainstream and Asian cultures
Communication is key in building strong relationships within a family. Sometimes people mistakenly think that communication is about WHAT is said; rather, it is HOW it is said that determines if a message gets across. Therefore, in Family Therapy, you and your family will learn to communicate in an honest, effective, and accepting manner that enables understanding and love to show.
Therapy for Asians
There is a Chinese saying that says:
“A man who is to be able to embrace the bitterness of life is an honorable man.”
It is considered a virtue to be able to endure pain and suffering in the Asian culture. So when emotional issues come up, Asians’ instinctual reaction is to internalize the pain instead of expressing it. However, over-suppressing our emotions can lead to a breakdown of our functioning, creating more severe and ongoing problems. In therapy, you will have a private and non-judgmental space where you will learn to compartmentalize your thoughts and feelings and find a balance in life again.
For Asian Couples
Family takes on a very different meaning for Asians, and it is a concept that is often misunderstood by the mainstream culture. After all, culture plays a critical role in how we live, behave, and relate to each other in the marriage and family. With my bicultural background, I believe I have the experience and skills to understand and help with the struggles you are going through.
For Asian Parents
Many Asian parents have high expectations for their kids because they understand that being a minority in the U.S. means challenges. Parents are willing to do whatever it takes to maximize their kids’ chances of success. But sometimes they forget to ask the important question: “What does my kid really need?” I imagine many parents would like to think they have the answer to that question, but in my experience working with teenagers, I learned that in order to have a happy-ending, the answer needs to be explored in collaboration with your kid. My job as your child’s therapist, in part, is to help him/her learn to better understand their own needs and to communicate those needs to their loved ones…You.
For Asian Families
Asian families have many values and traditions that make them unique and proud; on the other hand, living in the United States can create conflicts within the family because of the fundamental cultural differences such as discipline, expectations, relationships with extended family, etc. Without attending to those sensitive issues, relationships in the family are likely to suffer. That is why it’s important for Asian families to learn to communicate with each other in a way that makes CULTURAL sense.
I offer a free 30-minute consultation (either on the phone or in my office), so you can get a sense of whether we have a good match. It is also an opportunity for me to decide whether or not I will be able to help you.
My current fee is $250.00 for each 50-minute session.
Cash or check accepted for payment at the time of service.
If you do not attend your scheduled therapy appointment, and you have not notified me at least 24 hours in advance, you will be required to pay the full cost of the session.
It is only fair for anyone to want to use their insurance for their health care. However, when it comes to therapy, I’d like you to be aware of the pros and cons of the decision. The pros are obvious: if you are eligible and qualified, insurance companies will pay for part of the sessions if they decide that it is a medical necessity.
On the other hand, the cons are not so obvious: In order for insurance companies to pay for your therapy, they require an official Mental Health Disorder Diagnosis. Like I mentioned earlier, many people in therapy are simply struggling with day-to-day issues and do not fit any diagnostic labeling. For example, an unhappy couple without any mental health history is not going to qualify for coverage.
For those that are more heavily impacted by their emotional issues and are diagnosable with a mental health disorder diagnosis, it is still tricky to decide whether or not using their insurance would be in their best interest.
First, usually there is a limited number of therapists you can choose from within the network and the number of sessions allowed in a year is very low (3-12 sessions).
Second, it is understandable that many people feel uncomfortable with being labeled as mentally ill because it is something that will stay on one’s medical record which is likely to make it very difficult and expensive to purchase future medical and life insurance policies.
Third, to qualify for coverage, insurance companies often require therapists to delineate intimate details of the client’s problems and circumstances. In other words, therapy is overseen and scrutinized by insurance companies to determine necessity and the therapist would have to prove that one is “sick” enough to warrant therapy.
In contrast, when therapy does not involve insurance, it remains confidential between you and your therapist. Not only that, you have the option of choosing the right therapist with whom you feel there is a connection. After all, finding a therapist is similar to finding a confidant; trust and connection are key to the success of the therapy.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether you’d like to use insurance for your therapy, but I’d be happy to address any questions you may have and assist you in making that important and personal decision. You can have a free consultation or make an appointment.
Kin Leung, MFT
Bay Area Marriage and Family Therapy, Inc.