What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I have distinct memories of talking to my parents and significant others in my childhood, teenage and formative years. These conversations lay the foundation for feeling heard, supported, and validated. I always want to be a good listener and an empathic partner in self-discovery and growth.
My love of learning and traveling opens my life to the wonders of studying psychology, spirituality, and culture. Further education and experiences have deepened my understanding of mind-body connection. Becoming a therapist is a natural progression. I can genuinely say, “My work is fun and enriching. I treasure the opportunities to journey with my clients in their self-discovery and growth.”
How have your personal experiences helped your work with your clients?
My journey through losses and pain uncovers meanings and purposes. It gives me the motivation and energy to pursue my dreams. Life’s uncertainties teach me humility and compassion, especially towards myself. With a deeper appreciation of life, my client and I discover broader perspectives and try out tools to live a fuller life. Clients notice my capacity to hold their painful experiences and be present to celebrate their triumphs and milestones. It is a collaborative process and a joint project indeed.
What is your specialty, and how did you choose it?
My specialty is in the areas of trauma transformation and post-traumatic growth. Whether it is a one-time traumatic event that troubles us or a longer-term relational problem we struggle with, there is always a way out. According to the World Health Organization 2013 guidelines for effective mental health care for adults and children exposed to trauma and loss, there are evidence-based treatment approaches that will help people reduce vivid and unwanted recollections of traumatic memories.
I developed this specialty by working with immigrants, third-culture kids, multinational corporation executives and their globe-trotting families, Olympic athletes, and community leaders. I gain motivation and satisfaction in seeing my clients rediscover their passion and performances.
What does a typical session with you look like?
The client is encouraged to participate in sessions actively. We will create room for explorations and new perspectives. I will ask my client about their expectations and experiences of therapy. They are encouraged to ask me questions about our work together. We will collaborate and decide on the course of treatment by setting goals and modifying them along the way. I will give feedback upon hearing their stories. There are moments of silence where we reflect and review what we listened to and learned. Sometimes the sessions are free-flowing, while other times may be more structured. Clients appreciate the whole-person emphasis: a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach to therapy. We find resources, identify strengths and take small steps. We will laugh, cry and experience transformation together as a team.
Please visit my website www.drlawchen.com for further information.
Short Term (Solution-focused, etc.)
Ideal for those who are coming in with a specific problem they’d like to address and gain clarity on. Typically, short term therapies are present focused and do not dive deep into your past.
Structured therapies are goal and progress oriented. Therapists may incorporate psychoeducation and a specific “curriculum.” In order to stay on track, therapists may provide worksheets and homework.
Insight-oriented (Psychodynamic, Existential, etc.)
Exploring the past and making connections to present issues can help clients gain insight. Getting to the root of the issue and finding deeper self-awareness can help with long-term change.
Non-directive (Humanistic, Person-centered, etc.)
Going with the flow and seeing where it leads.
Behavioral (CBT, DBT, etc.)
Focuses on changing potentially unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors by addressing problematic thought patterns and specific providing coping skills.
Trauma Focused (EMDR, TF-CBT, etc.)
Recognizing the connection between trauma experiences and your emotional and behavioral responses, trauma focused therapy seeks to help you heal from traumas.