I was born in war-torn Vietnam and escaped to Europe as a refugee of Communism. After the refugee camp and then France, I emigrated to the United States for my higher education.
I bring to my work all that this range of life experiences has taught me. I bring to it a multi-cultural, multi-lingual sensibility. I bring to it the perspective of one who stands outside, who has witnessed devastations and known unspeakable loss, who understands that there exist no borders or special opportunities in the domain of human suffering. And I bring to it the passionate conviction that every life is worth cherishing, every mind is worth knowing, and every being is worth loving. This dedication has taken me from acute-care psychiatric wards, to community health clinics, to refugee camps and detention centers. It has welcomed into my private office patients from all over the world, of all means, faith, and sexuality.
The passion toward human existence has compelled me to study psychopathology in all its forms and contexts and to seek out the most intensive and sophisticated training. This has included psychoanalysis, mindfulness, Buddhist psychology, and life coaching. I follow the training that enables me to make a real, actual difference in people’s lives. And I commit to ideas and techniques that allow for the most authentic, mutually respectful and effective engagement with clients. My effectiveness is proven by the variety of clients who have sought my services as well as the range of successful results that I have achieved for them.
For over 20 years of studies and practice, I have been in wonder and in awe about what people struggle with. Next to nurturing my children, I consider this calling my highest mission: It is to make deep contact with the desires and fears of fellow human beings and to honor and celebrate the human condition in all its contradictions and promises.
Education and Training:
B.A. in Psychology (University of California, Los Angeles, 1991), with minor in French Literature. Graduated with Highest Departmental Honor, Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude.
Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology (New York University, 1999). Multi-year Research Fellowship, Mental Health Research Fund Award, Best Dissertation Award.
Postdoctoral Training in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (New York University, 2002-2012). Harris Foundation awards for Diversity, Wolstein Scholar Fellowship, the Bernie Kalinkowitz scholarship.
The Institute for Life Coaching (Board Certification, 2018).
As a clinical psychologist trained in psychoanalysis, I have specialized in helping people who struggle with traumatic loss, difficult life transitions, forced displacement, or cultural-political conflicts. This has brought me in contact with people who suffer from chronic mental illness, the elderly who deal with end-of-life issues, 2nd-generation immigrants who live in the shadow of their parents’ trauma, activists who struggle with burn-out, victims of persecution and abuse, and “regular” people who break under the weight of depression and anxiety.
In the past 5 years I have shifted my focus away from the mentally ill toward the spiritually striving and the existentially lost. From treating anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress, I now have been working with people who are struggling with life issues such as aging, divorce, retirement, career change, life purpose and death.
As my attention has shifted away from treating “mental disorder” to life coaching, I am still in deep conversation with people from all walks of life, from all over the world.
But rather than focusing on relieving people of pathological symptoms, I now focus on facilitating growth and building lives. In this mission I now join with my clients in listening to the questions of how to live fully and how to truly connect with one’s purpose. My clients now are those who want to enlist my experience and knowledge toward the goal of claiming the life that they wish to live.
My practice does not offer the easy quick fix or the promise of a solution for “happiness.” I have built it as a space for my clients to discover their own definitions and aspirations. And I fashion it as a call for my clients to wake up to their most urgent desire and find the courage to live creatively and fully.
When you retain my services, you are saying yes to the skills and commitment which enable you to ask the questions that need to be asked about your life’s choices and to step into new answers.
My work is about helping people discover and own their true purpose and desire, unravel the obstacles that have kept them from achieving what they want, and find the skills and courage to go toward the choices that reflect their deep values and that realize their true nature. It is trained to engage you in examining, exploring, and experiencing new ways to live.
My approach can be encapsulated in two key principles:
Knowledge is Power
Experience brings Change
To know yourself –and what your life is about—is to have the power to live it on your terms.
And change requires work and courage –to step into new experiences that then bring you to new knowledge and closer to your truth. It also requires faith in the validity and sacredness of your own truth about your own, unique life.
My “expertise” is to activate a process that facilitates curiosity, emotional freedom, ambition for the better, and the courage for change. My professional commitment is to help the client discover her own wisdom and find her own strength to take charge of her life. This commitment has been forged over years of dealing with fear, self-sabotage, and oppression. It has been validated by witnessing people successfully overcome demons and naysayers. And it is justified by what we all know but need tremendous support to live out: That Life is precious and ruthless, and the only life you can save is your own.