Dr. Andres Chou on Addressing Mental Health Needs Among Asian-Americans | FP 96

What are some things you should know as a clinician about the Asian-American community? How can you best support your Asian-American clients who are new to therapy?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks with Dr. Andres Chou about addressing mental health needs among the Asian-American community.

Meet Dr. Andres Chou

Dr. Andres Chou is a clinical psychologist and private practice owner in Pasadena, CA, where he provides therapy and psychological assessment services. He is passionate about Asian-American mental health and working with people from a faith-based background. Outside of psychology, he prides himself in sharing dad jokes, much to the dismay of his poor wife and son.

Dr. Andres Chou is a clinical psychologist and private practice owner in Pasadena, CA, where he provides therapy and psychological assessment services. He is passionate about Asian-American mental health and working with people from a faith-based background. Outside of psychology, he prides himself in sharing dad jokes, much to the dismay of his poor wife and son.

Visit his website.

In This Podcast

  • How can therapists meet the needs of the Asian-American community?
  • The Asian-American community is not a monolith

How can therapists meet the needs of the Asian-American community?

I think what’s important to think about here is that a lot of the Asian-American community doesn’t know what to do with what’s going on. (Dr. Andres Chou)

It is important to recognize that for the Asian-American community, there is a tendency to keep quiet and avoid rocking the boat.

Some Asian-American communities and families will downplay the violence or strife in order to keep it under wraps and in doing so, rid themselves of the opportunity to express their anger or frustration.

The first thing as clinicians is to think about is that if you’re working with an Asian-American client is thinking about the fact that this person has their own unique and individual experience and there might be a tendency to minimize that experience as an Asian-American. Be mindful of that and give space for secondary conversations. (Dr. Andres Chou)

The Asian-American community is not a monolith

The Asian-American community in the United States is incredibly broad. There are many families and communities that came from different countries across Asia at different periods of time and for different reasons.

Therefore, it is important that you do not treat the Asian-American community as one entity. It is an umbrella term that collects and describes a wide range of experiences, cultures, and communities.

When you are working with an Asian-American client, it is important not to treat their experience like the experiences of others: get to know them and their unique circumstances without comparing them to other Asian-American people.

Be curious. I think that’s really important when it comes to working with the Asian-American community. Just be curious and try to understand, engage and be intentional, and I think that happens outside of our practices too. I am challenged … [to consider] what I am doing to engage with people [that are] not like me? (Dr. Andres Chou)

Be intentional and guide your Asian-American clients through their therapy, especially if they are new to therapy, or have not before had such an open space to discuss themselves and what they feel.

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Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian therapist Whitney Owens. Whitney helps other christian counselors grow faith based private practices!Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Thanks For Listening!

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Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY OWENS] Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.

Hi, and welcome back to the Faith in Practice podcast. If this is your first time joining me, I’m excited. I love being with you guys and doing this podcast. And if you’ve been listening to me for a while, I appreciate you so much. Thank you for taking the time because there are so many other podcasts out there. I want you to go and tell somebody about the podcast. If you found it beneficial, please share it with other faith-based practice owners or go in and write a review on whatever platform you’re listening to. It will totally help me get the word out and bring in more business to different faith-based practices.

So that’s a good thing. I would love to continue to connect with you. The podcast is a great way for you to get information, but there’s so many other ways that we can connect. I do have an email list and I’ll tell you, I pride myself on offering only really great content that’s really going to help your business. In fact, I just did an email series on connecting with referral sources, like a step-by-step what to say, who to connect with, how to make your list, who’s your ideal client. That just went out. I did another series on how to hire an assistant, if you need one, or if not. I’ve done some on creating your practice, branding, marketing, everything. And when you get to the end of each email, you have a really specific tip on things that you can do right now in your practice to take the needle forward.

So if you’re not on my email list, I want you to go to practicethepractice.com/faithinpracticeresources. There you can download a flyer, Five Common Pitfalls Between Churches and Counselors, and you can also sign up for the email list, or you could also look for the Faith in Practice Facebook group. And I lead that group. I just went in there and did a lot yesterday. I go in there and answer people’s questions with Facebook Lives or comments. I’m super active. So we’d love for you to be in there. If you’re a faith-based practice owner and you love the podcast, join that group. That will also help put you on my email list and you can opt into that and you can enjoy those resources. And of course you can unsubscribe at any time.

So those are some ways that we can connect. If you are also thinking, “Hey, I love listening to the podcast. I want to connect with Whitney more, or you just want to give me some feedback, shows that you’d like to see, or maybe you want to be a guest on the show, you can shoot me an email whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. I always love hearing from you guys, what helps and doesn’t help because podcasting is a funny thing. I’m sure some of you podcast and you’re listening, but I sit here and wonder who’s listening, who’s not, and when this will come out. It’s just such a funny way that we connect with people, but such a cool way at the same time. I know that podcasts I’ve listened to, I can remember moments and stories that some of my favorite people have shared and how I felt so connected to them. So I hope that you feel that way listening to this show, but would also love to hear back from you guys.

Anyway, I am excited about this episode. I try to bring lots of different people onto the show, different backgrounds, different offerings. And I also like to connect with people who connect me to people. So I was able to connect with Andres Chou because Jeremy Sharp, who is the testing psychologist, I was on his show, and by the way, if you’re a psychologist wanting to do some of your business growth and surrounding testing and those kinds of things, Jeremy Sharp is totally the guy for that. I had him on a podcast interview a while back and I was on his show, The Testing Psychologist. So check him out.

So anyway, at the end of our interview, I can’t remember if it was me on his or him on mine, we talked about Andres, because he does assessments for people going into the ministry, or he had done that prior. So he’s such an interesting guy and he brings such a peace and he has such a presence about him. And that’s the other thing about podcasting. I love doing the interviews because I can really get a sense for people sitting on the video and talking to one another. It’s a beautiful thing. And I really enjoyed this interview and it was very timely. And when you hear the interview, you’ll understand what I mean. Because it was at the time around when the shooting happened in Atlanta. So we actually had scheduled the interview prior to that, and then it happened and then we did the interview afterwards.

So this was the shooting of some Asian-Americans. So we’re going to talk about that in the interview as well. So he has a lot to offer and has some experience on both sides of the coast, on the east and west coast and I really enjoyed having him on the show. So we’re going to jump into this episode. He’s going to talk with you about how to address mental health needs among Asian-Americans. I know that this is an important issue, not only from the shooting, but from other reasons. And even here in Savannah, we get a lot of students from the SCAD that are international students and Asian-Americans and how do I help them in being here and how do I work with their mental health needs? So this episode will help you do just that. So we’re going to jump right into the episode today.
[WHITNEY] Today on the Faith in Practice podcast I have Dr. Andres Chou. He’s a clinical psychologist in private practice center in Pasadena, California, where he provides therapy and psychological assessment services. He’s passionate about the Asian-American mental health and working with people from a faith-based background. Outside of psychology he prides himself in sharing dad jokes much to the dismay of his poor wife and son. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.
[ANDRES CHOU] I’m really glad to be here and just excited about this.
[WHITNEY] Yes, me too. Me too. When Dr. Jeremy Sharp told me a little bit about you after I had him on my podcast, I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to get this guy on my show. We have way too much in common.” And the more we’ve talked, the more we found more things in common.
[ANDRES] Yes. Yes, I understand you and your husband are at one point from Atlanta or that area?
[WHITNEY] Yes, we did live in the Atlanta area when I went to graduate school. We were in Marietta and then my husband’s actually from the Roswell area.
[ANDRES] Yes. Where my wife is from. So I love Atlanta. It’s just such a boom in city and just lots of stuff going on. I don’t like the humidity, that much though in California.
[WHITNEY] Well, Savannah is even worse for humanity. My husband always said, “Atlanta is the place you want to live and New York’s a place you want to visit.” You know how everybody says, just visit New York. Don’t live there. Atlanta is live there. Don’t just visit.
[ANDRES] Yes, it’s tempting. I would be lying if I say we haven’t entertained the idea of like moving there, so we’ll see. We’ll see.
[WHITNEY] Well, why don’t you share a little bit of your journey into kind of starting your practice and more about what your practice is all about?
[ANDRES] Yes, so I’m a clinical psychologist and I initially started, I did my post doc, let’s go back a little bit further. My pre-doctoral internship, I did in Chicago where I met my wife and I did it at the Chicago area training consortium. It’s a training program with a bunch of different Christian faith-based organizations in the area. And while I was there, I did a lot of psychological assessment therapy within the city, outside of the city, kind of all over the place. It was a pretty, pretty diverse experience in every sense of the word. And after that, well, part of my work there was I did assessments for individuals getting ready to go onto the mission field, international aid workers, that kind of thing. And I love those so much because it was just seeing people live out their calling and helping them to kind of affirm them.

And occasionally those evaluations are addressing some real concerns for people who maybe were hiding or running away from some of their pain to go into ministry. So that was amazing to kind of just work with some people through that. And then I guess it’s, God’s Providence, I found a postdoc in Pasadena where we live now and at Fuller Seminary, their school of psychology. And when I met the director who’s not the, he’s the COO of the school, but when I met the director at the time, we just hit it off and he found out that I was doing easy evaluations with clergy and he on the spot said, “Hey, why don’t you come here and do that?” You know, it kind of, sort of, he had the idea already, but didn’t, it kind of solidified it for him that, “Hey, maybe we need to do these here.”

So I did that for a good five years training graduate students on psychological evaluations with clergy and helping the seminary there, like the students there do psychological assessments so they can better fulfill their calling. And then the pandemic came and then at the time my son was a little bit under one and just I loved my job. I love working with graduate students and the integration but just my wife and I talked and it was getting hard to balance that work and life. So I decided to go into private practice and just to prioritize a little bit of my family more. But it’s just impossible to separate that part of me. So sure enough a lot of my clients that came calling wanted to talk about their faith. So here I am. So I’m pretty new into private practice. So that’s why your podcast for me has been really interesting, like, “Oh, okay. This is such a great tool for myself personally.”
[WHITNEY] Well, thank you. I’m happy to hear that and happy to help. How long have you had your private practice?
[ANDRES] Oh, gosh, technically full-time. What are we? April now? It’s hard to tell yet. Happy Tax Day everyone. Well, I guess it’s delayed now for people, but business tax day, four months. Yes, I just started technically at the beginning of the year, but I part-timed for a little bit of last year.
[WHITNEY] Congratulations. Yes and growing a practice during this time, it’s just even different than it ever was before.
[ANDRES] Oh gosh. Yes.
[WHITNEY] Are you still doing the psychological evaluations for clergy through your practice?
[ANDRES] I am. I am, not as, the quantities definitely decrease. I mean, I just started, so who knows? Yes, so I still am. I still do those but because the school I was working at, they had a lot of contracts with agreements with different organizations, I tend to just direct them that way, because I don’t know, I’m passionate about these students, graduate students, learning them. So occasionally they get overwhelmed with referrals and then they’ll call me up.
[WHITNEY] I mean, I think that’s such a special niche to have, and then especially when you do the evaluations of people who need further therapy. Sometimes they want to keep working with the person that did their evaluation but I just want to say, I think for anyone who’s listening that does testing that this is a really important area to be able to serve. My husband is a pastor and had to go through the psychological evaluation with the Methodist church and they had someone that they contract out down in Macon that he’d have to drive there and get the testing done. But yes, it’s a really important community to serve.
[ANDRES] Yes. I just think about, I know just a little bit of my faith background. I grew up pretty much in the church and went to all different types of churches, mostly kind of nondenominational evangelical churches, but small ones, mega churches and some in the city, some in the suburbs and my experience has been just a lot. I mean, my faith has been tremendously important and a huge part of my life. And at the same time my journey through ministry and I even I worked at a church for a little bit, so there’s a lot of pain behind that too. And so that’s why I’m passionate about this because just realizing that just because you’re a pastor, I’m sure we all know that now, but just because you’re a pastor is by no means mean you got it all together.

And if anything, like we talked about a little bit, oftentimes a ministry can be a place of escape for people. You know, I think about how many of my clients, they went to youth group and just really felt that they finally fit in. This is my experience too. Like it didn’t really fit in at school because I became a Christian and then, so now I’m into all of this stuff that other kids at school aren’t into. And then youth group suddenly everyone gets me, they welcome me. It doesn’t matter that I’m a little bit different and whatever. And then you feel so much that you belong, so much. And then you start to grow up and start to figure out career and you know what, this ministry thing. I really click with everyone. They want likes me. It doesn’t matter if you’re like nerdy or cool or whatever.

By default, you have to accept everyone and then suddenly you have another colder pastor go, “Hey you ever thought about seminary or something like that?” And you know, if you’re an 18 year old kid, why not? And then, so a lot of these pastors kind of go in without really delineating what is calling, what is just community, what is, all those things are, it’s hard to separate but a lot of stuff gets mixed in there. And I think that’s really important in our work as clinicians working with people of faith is that trying to tease out what is the pain and what is actual calling. And that could be really hard.
[WHITNEY] You spoke to that so well. That’s so actually similar to my husband’s journey. When he was in high school, he was bullied and his youth group was where he found the Lord Knight. He was not a Christian and someone invited him and everyone was friendly and loved him. And then he was like, yes, what more of this Jesus stuff? Now he’s a youth pastor helping kids and he really connects super well with the ones that feel rejected and he’s doing a really great ministry there.
[ANDRES] Yes, it also speaks to the redemptive power of salvation and God’s grace. But that’s tricky because it’s a fine balance between okay, what part of our growth and healing is our own work, our own job and what part is God’s? And some parts of what our society has, I would say is problematic is that, okay, let’s just, Jesus, take the wheel, everything. It’s all Him. And then we don’t, we just kind of sit back and then that becomes a problem when it, when you have a lot of pain that’s not dealt with and you enter into ministry. So yes, amen to what you’re saying right there.
[WHITNEY] Most definitely. Well, we could talk about lots of great things today, but I know we specifically discussed the idea of how do we, as clinicians better meet the needs of the Asian-American communities around us. So we’d love to, we can address the issue that happened in Atlanta, or we could kind of just talk about things you’ve noticed, so tips that you have, kind of wherever you think would be best to start with this.
[ANDRES] Yes. You know, this is, for those that don’t know I’m Asian-American and my parents are from Taiwan. They immigrated when, initially we moved to Argentina, that’s why my name is Andres, but then I came here when I was like four. So I’m pretty much American. My brother was born in New York and anyway yes, just, I think there is some kind of, it’s interesting when we agreed to do this episode on the shootings in Atlanta that had just happened. Let me give you an example of what kind of captures this experience for a lot of the Asian-American community. After the shootings happened, I didn’t know what to think of it. I didn’t like it. I thought it was terrible and then my reaction was I don’t know what to think about it.

That’s bad, but that’s, my initial thought was that’s one thing that happened and then my other thought was like, whoa, is that really an Asian, like hate crime and all those kind of internalized kind of, I would say like internalized, racism is a strong word, but just internalized like messages of like, “Okay, let’s just let this pass.” Which is very much an Asian-American experience. A lot of Asian cultures tend to be more collateral or collectivistic. It’s all about the betterment of the family, betterment of the benefit of the community over the individual. You’re in the south and I think a lot of people have told me this, that it feels very much like military families. Like you got to do your duty, kind of forsake your own individual needs for the sake of the greater good.

So maybe people like, I know Georgia has a big military kind of community there, and maybe some of your listeners can identify with that. In terms of, so I think what’s important to think about here is that a lot of the Asian-American community doesn’t know what to do with what’s going on. And this is just one, this is by far the most violent one, the event that’s happened, but last year has been really terrible for Asian-American community, especially kind of the big cities. A lot of violence against, we’re seeing more and more of it by violence against kind of the older Asian people and like just getting beat up and things like that. It’s really terrible. And I think it’s important, I guess my first initial thought is that it’s important to kind of recognize that for a lot of the Asian-American community.

The tendency is to kind of, let’s keep quiet. Let’s not talk about this or like, this is not that bad. What’s going on in the black and Latino community is way worse, so we don’t have to talk about that. But what I like to say is that it’s not a competition. It’s not a competition, like violence against any people is violence against all of us. We can be against all these different things. We can advocate for all these different communities at the same time. It’s not either or. Our world right now, especially with social media, it’s so divided. It’s like you have to be on this side or that side. There’s no in-between which none of us really believes that. We’re all just pushed to such extremes. So I think that’s the first thing as clinicians is to think about is that if you’re working with Asian-American clients, thinking about, okay, this person has their own unique individual experience, and there might be a tendency to kind of minimize that experience as an Asian-American and just being mindful of that and giving space for kind of secondary con conversations.

Yes. And like, I was on the podcast with Jeremy and my initial response when he asked me about the Atlanta shootings was like, oh, no big deal kind of thing. I mean, big deal, but it doesn’t really affect me. I don’t know how they feel. And then he gave me an opportunity to come back and talk about it some more. And that’s, I think that’s a lot of the Asian-American experience. Sometimes it might involve another conversation. Because the initial conversations, oh, let’s not look at me. Let’s point the attention somewhere else. So that’s my initial kind of thought about what’s going on there.
[WHITNEY] Well, and I’m sure therapists can understand that because even in all clients, all of us act that way sometimes and some of us more than others that we look to the needs of others over our own. I was actually talking to my husband about how I was going to be interviewing you today and we were just discussing, like, that’s something about the Asian-American community that we value is that they tend to, people tend to care more for their family and for others, as opposed to sometimes, I’m not really sure how to say this the right way, individuals can be self-centered and it’s all about me or all about my opinion. And we need to be more central on caring for others and the needs of our family and being more open-minded? So it’s that idea that our biggest gift is our biggest curse. We know that when we say, oh, that’s not a big deal. We’re like caring for others, but then we really realize, wait, I should pay attention to what I need right now.
[ANDRES] And it’s hard. I mean, I think that’s why we struggle as Americans to read some of the Bible. It’s because the Bible comes from a more collectivistic communal kind of perspective. That culture. So we struggle with like some of the passages in there. Wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense and, or we try to interpret with the American mindset. So that can be tricky. So I get it too because I’m kind of in between. Like I understand that Asian communal kind of mindset, but I’m very much individualistic. Like I’m thinking about okay, well my practice, how do I keep my business going, and things like that.
[WHITNEY] This is what you were saying earlier about, we’re so divided. I’ve actually been thinking about that the past few weeks in particular and like this need for us to come together and feeling a lot of loss and heartbreak over the faith community, because there’s such a division, honestly, like I’ve never seen before and it’s just so disheartening. So finding ways to bring Christians together instead of having so much separation.
[ANDRES] It’s a weird time. I think the church is really being challenged right now. Yes, we could get into that for hours.
[WHITNEY] But what other advice do you have for therapists?
[ANDRES] Well, it’s always tricky because the Asian-American community is so broad. So I would say it starts with really being intentional about kind of stepping outside of our own comfort zones. And I put myself in there, too. My parents are from Taiwan. So technically I’m considered like East Asian, like Japanese, Korean, that kind of thing. But then it’s vastly different from just like subtle nuances from like Southeast Asian communities or even South Asian, like Indian. And I’m probably excluding all kinds of different areas and regions, so pardon me with that but just a lot of differences. Like for most like east Asian immigrants we’ve come here, like my parents came here with visas and green cards and with sponsors but a lot of the Asian-American community came as refugees, like from Cambodia, from the Camaro Rouge and from Vietnam after the war.

So that’s a very different experience. So just first being able to understand that the Asian-American community is not a monolith. It’s just really diverse. And it’s so easy to get into that Asian-American myth, like, I mean, sorry the model minority myth. But a good chunk of the Asian-American community actually lives in poverty. And like where I’m from in California, Long Beach is one of the biggest Cambodian populations. And talk about trauma. Like it’s a whole generation, the estimated two or 3 million people wiped out in the Camaro Rouge. And then their parents, like they were kids at the time and now they’re parents now grandparents, and they’re carrying that trauma. They don’t talk about it, passing it onto their kids. We know about the intergenerational kind of effects of trauma now.

So just being able to kind of be curious, I think it’s really important when it comes to working with the Asian-American community. It’s just being curious and trying to understand and engage, be intentional. And I think that happens outside of our practices too. I’m challenged so much now more than ever, and that, okay, what am I doing to engage with people not like me? And it’s so hard. 90% of my friends are Asian, not just Asian, East Asian, highly educated. And it’s so hard. I’ve said this before that, thank goodness for my wife, she’s so intentional about these things. Like when we were in Chicago, she lived in the community and she did work in the community and thank goodness for her, because if it weren’t for her, our wedding would have been like 99% Asian?

She brought a lot of diversity, but she’s intentional about it, but it takes work. She had to like sacrifice. She had to go live and in a community that she wasn’t necessarily comfortable and work, and really love these people and get to know them. That takes commitment, persistence. It’s not just, “Oh, I tried and okay they don’t seem to want to accept me.” But it takes persistence, trying and showing up, being there on a regular basis. And that’s going to come out inside of our clinical work, I think, because then it doesn’t feel like, okay, this is just a person, a clinician who’s just, oh you know, just trying to treat me like anybody else. They really care, want to understand my community and who I am. So that would be my one thing I would suggest to a lot of therapists and clinicians working with the Asian-American community.
[WHITNEY] Well, you mentioned earlier, it kind of the difficulty with the community acknowledging their needs and being able to say this is difficult for me. Do you find that it’s harder for them to go to therapy? And if that’s the case, like what can we do as clinicians to better reach the Asian-American population and say we welcome you to therapy. We accept you, even when it’s maybe a little against the way you’ve been raised or culture.
[ANDRES] So, and this is really tricky because it depends on where you are. So if you’re in a place where there’s a lot of, kind of, especially in America, like in the US, a lot of the Korean American kind of community is very religious, like Korea has the biggest Christian Church in the world. So in that case engaging churches. And I think that’s actually a really great way to engage a lot of the Asian-American communities through their communities of faith, because even if, I mean, I guess this works for anybody even outside of the Asian-American community, but then there’s a lot of trust in religious leaders. So a person might not go to a therapist or a counselor, but they will go to their pastors.

My parents went to our pastor for marital counseling, like early on. I don’t know how good of a job he did, but yes, that’s their first line. So being engaging kind of ethnic churches, and I think it would be a really important way to kind of start with that. And speaking to that, too, say now the kind of the generations that are born here and grew up here are second, third generation Asian-Americans. It’s a little bit different, but much more open to mental health. But there’s still an element of like that, the backdrop as a culture. So that’d be my look a little bit different. And I’m adjusting with this too. I have more of a psychodynamic background and I welcome free association and that kind of stuff. But for my Asian-American clients, I might have to be more directive. I might have to kind of give them some more guidance because there’s that backdrop of the culture of, okay, I’m going to take a step back. So free association might be really hard for some Asian clients.
[WHITNEY] Yes. That’s a really good point that you made. I love the psychodynamic work too. We, here in Savannah, half the Savannah College of Art and Design, you might be familiar SCAD. They have a campus in Atlanta. They also have a campus in Hong Kong. And we have a lot of students that come, not only from there, but all over Asia and then obviously other places too, because it’s an art school and it’s well-known. So when the Asian-American students come in, and I could check to see the Asian students come in and I got so used to saying that, when they come in, it has been a challenge in several ways. And it’s really heartbreaking. First of all, I can think of a few clients right now, a lot of anxiety, a lot of pressure, but then they don’t feel like they can tell their families that they’re coming for counseling.

So then it’s hard for them to afford counseling. So this has caused this dynamic of how do we support you in your therapy, but also give you this privacy, but also you need your parents to be okay with this. It’s a really difficult dynamic. I didn’t know if you had anything to kind of say to that, but most of these students that come in, they never make it past two or three sessions because they don’t have that extra support that they need to encourage them into therapy.
[ANDRES] Oh gosh, that’s really tough. I mean, we encounter that quite a bit here in Pasadena because in the San Gabriel Valley where we are, it is a pretty big Asian-American community. And that’s a long-term process. I’m thinking it’s about educating. It is helpful though for those who are psychologists and that being a doctor is helpful. So you can go to your doctor, but going to a therapist, what is that? Like, my parents still don’t understand. I mean, I’m sure it is the experience for a lot of therapists, but my parents were like, “What do you do for work? You talk to people? What is that?” But then if you go to a doctor, oh yes, the doctor is just helping me with … and I think like, one way to explain is that I don’t like how our textbooks talk about this, like somaticizing like symptoms. Because I think we all do that.

I think what those textbooks are trying to say in the Asian community is that that’s more acceptable to talk about mental health symptoms in a somatic way. So sometimes that’s helpful to explain to clients like, okay, we’re trying to help with how you’re feeling tired, depression. We’re trying to help with how it’s hard for you to sleep, anxiety or help with your concentration, which is another symptom of anxiety. So things like that I think might be helpful. Again everyone’s different but I think trying to explain it in a way could be helpful. But that’s tricky. I have to think about that some more because I don’t have an answer for it. So yes.
[WHITNEY] It’s been hard for us and we want to help, but I love how you just explained, like, being really tangible about these are the goals, this is what it’s about, instead of so psychoanalytical, I guess, getting more like these are behaviors that we’re going to improve. And a lot of it is school, being able to concentrate in school and not have to leave class because of panic attacks. So it’s heartbreaking to think about.
[ANDRES] Yes, part of it might be, we have to be intentional about, and this is really hard. This is by no means easy, is hiring clinicians that have an Asian background. There’s just a comfort and an ease when some things don’t have to be explained, but that’s really tricky because it depends on where you are and you want to hire people who fit the culture of your practice. But that’s why the outside of our practices, that intentionality of engaging in different communities is really important because that’s where we’re going to find people to bring on board.
[WHITNEY] Is there anything that we haven’t addressed that you wanted to make sure that you kind of got in here today?
[ANDRES] Yes. I mean, gosh, well, I have a lot of thoughts, but let’s try to kind of just bring it home. I think it’s, with any kind of diverse community, it’s just really important to just keep questioning, being curious, just learning and just thinking about, well, let me, let me say this. I think it’s just important to be open to making mistakes. And I think as therapists, we need to be able to put that out there. Like I’m going to make mistakes and that’s actually the best part of therapy that we make mistakes as therapists and we repair them with our clients. So even addressing that with our clients is going to be really important, especially in the Asian-American community where the tendency might be to not point out things that they don’t like in therapy and welcoming that and saying “I might not know enough about your culture, so I’m going to make mistakes and let’s work through this together. I’m not asking you to educate me but if I mess up, please share them with me and let’s work through it together.” So I think that might be important just to have that kind of open mind and willingness to stumble a little bit.
[WHITNEY] Definitely. Well, wonderful. If somebody was listening to the show and they wanted to get in touch with you or just to connect, what would be the best thing for them to do?
[ANDRES] Yes. The easiest way is to jump on my website. Do you want me to say it on the air?
[WHITNEY] Yes, and we’ll have it on the show notes too.
[ANDRES] Sure. It’s just andreschou.com. That’s [A N D R E S C H O U].com. My information is there and you can email me, send me a text, whatever.
[WHITNEY] Yes. That’s great. Wonderful. Well, I’m going to ask you what I ask everyone at the end of the show. What do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?
[ANDRES] Yes, that’s a really great question. And I think what I’ve been learning is that just to live out of abundance of grace. That’s what we need to really understand, really embrace. That allows us to give freely and at the same time, be bold in terms of how we run our practices and do our interventions and even talking about difficult conversations. So just knowing that we live in abundance, not out of scarcity.
[WHITNEY] That’s wonderful. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show. This has been enlightening for me and I’m sure for the audience as well. So thank you.
[ANDRES] Yes, it’s been my pleasure. Thank you.
[WHITNEY] Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also there, you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. Would love to hear from you.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.

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