“Have you had counseling in the past and felt misunderstood because your counselor could not identify or appreciate your upbringing, values, or experiences?”
“Have you or your family been on the receiving end of painful stereotypical comments or discrimination practices?”
You are not alone. Asking for help is not easy. Asking for help, as an Asian-American, can feel very daunting. Asian culture, unlike Western culture, is generally a non-expressive culture and is often rooted in guilt and shame. You may fear seeking support (or talking to someone outside the family) because you worry it will burden your family with guilt and shame, causing them to “lose face.” The stigma associated with mental health issues is very real and remains strong within the Asian-American community. Many Asian-Americans often deny or deal with mental health issues by keeping silent and suppressing their emotions. Asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness, bringing shame to the individual and the family. This way of coping may work initially for the short term but often comes at a greater cost in the long run.
It does not have to be this way. If you have found yourself nodding your head and answering “yes” to any of the above questions, consider professional counseling. As a first generation child of Taiwanese immigrants, supporting my clients as they navigate the complexities of living between two cultures is something very near and dear to me. I grew up like many first generation children of immigrants – speaking the native tongue (Mandarin) at home, attending Chinese Language School on Sundays, shunning my Chinese background to fit in with my peers at school, and trying to act more “American” while also trying to please my Chinese family. As I often have said to my colleagues or friends, “When I visit my family’s home, I often feel like I have to take off my American shoes and put on my Chinese slippers before going inside.”
Not every client’s experience is the exactly the same, but because of the largely communal nature of how Asian Americans live and interact with each other and the high value Asian-American families place upon certain structures (e.g., interdependence, family, education, marriage, hierarchy, obedience, and filial piety), many common themes emerge in our ability to cope and find acceptance and understanding, thus resulting in much guilt and shame.
Over the past several years, as my practice has evolved, it has become increasingly evident to me that there is a great need for culturally-competent counseling to serve the Asian-American community here in Seattle. To do my part, I now devote a specific portion of my practice to serving the Asian-American community. This has truly become one of my passions and priorities. It would be a great honor to welcome you, to listen to your story, and to support you on your path to wellness and healing.