My Special Interests
The following are populations that I tend to specifically work with clinically.
I believe that "trauma" is a relative term, because whether something is traumatic depends on the perception of the person who experienced it. My approach to working with trauma involves the pursuit of safety, understanding, empowerment, and healing. The journey is unique to each person, and I adapt to your needs. I address trauma through multiple modalities of expression beyond speech, including expressive arts, sandtray thearpy, and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapy (EMDR). Trauma can be debilitating, and I want to help you find some peace and/or relief.
I am here to listen, guide, and support you in whatever obstacle(s) you may face as someone who is a part of the LGBTQ+ community: Whether you are coming out (though coming out can be a constant, never ending occurrence,) you are experiencing relationship issues, you are feeling conflicted about your sexuality/gender/identity, you are feeling conflicted about your religion and sexuality/gender identity, or all/none of the above. I also want to acknowledge that being LGBTQ+ doesn't mean that the driving force of you seeking counseling focuses solely on the fact that you are lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer/questioning/intersex/asexual/however you choose to define/label yourself. I get that. LGBTQ-related issues or not, I am here for you.
As stated in my About Me section, I am multiracial, specifically half-Korean and half-Caucasian. I don't think that means I understand all Asians, Koreans, or multiracial people; however, I do have some insight from my personal experiences that can enhance my therapeutic relationship with you if you are Asian, Korean, and/or multiracial. Growing up among mixed cultures can fuel personal insecurities and/or inner conflicts that follow you beyond your childhood. It can seem like no amount of acculturation or adapting is enough as there isn't just one culture that is significant in your life. It can feel as if there isn't one place where you fully "belong." Many identify Southern California as a "melting pot;" however, for some it may not feel like all the cultures have melted into one, but have remained separate like oil and water. This can be stressful, especially when you're not sure where you fit in.
For some of you, race and ethnicity are not important parts of your identity. Whether you struggle with the issues I described above or not, I am here for you.
My Message Directly to Youth:
My plan when I work with you is to attempt to create an environment where you feel comfortable to speak your mind, even if you think it's the "wrong" thing to say. As your therapist, I wouldn't be just another adult in your life trying to tell you what to do or feel. Whether you are seeking counseling for your own motivations, your parents'/guardians' wishes, or a combination of the two, my approach and goals are the same: To empower you by helping you realize the areas in your life that you do have control over, to explore with you the positive and negative consequences of the choices you make, and to be someone who will listen to you without judgment or an agenda.
My Message for Adults of Youth:
When I work with teenagers, my focus is helping them feel empowered and understood, and help them learn how to take personal responsibility and control in their lives. My somewhat casual, down-to-earth approach with teens has been and continues to seem to be well-received by the youth I have worked with, including my almost four years at Casa Youth Shelter. Knowing that some teens may find typical "talk-therapy" boring or unmotivating, I use other modalities like art and sand tray therapy to help them gain insight and learn about themselves. Also, I welcome and seek collaboration with you: Their parents/guardians, teachers, and other professionals and significant adults in their lives.
When I work with families/couples, the main focus tends to be improving communication. When I work with you, I strive to maintain balance so that each member of the family feels heard and understood. My goals are to help you and your family practice and learn new communication skills so that eventually you will no longer need me to help mediate or hear one another. Also, I offer you observations of the patterns and roles that each member of the family appear to do and take on. Together, we can find understanding, compassion, and some resolutions.