My Philosophy and Approach to Therapy
My orientation to therapy can best be described as contextual, creative critical, and connectional. I like to look at the "big picture" without ignoring critical details and see how seemingly unrelated facts, stories and theories can connect together in creative, meaningful ways. I see therapy as a collaborative art-form rooted in contextual behavioral science.
In psychotherapy, there are those who believe that "relationships" are key to the therapeutic process. I agree. I believe that we are part of an interconnected web of relationships. And so our sessions become a microcosm of this interconnected world in which we all live. Through the therapist and client relationship, you can test out your thoughts and express your emotions and receive support and valuable feedback which you can take back into the world.
As the relationship grows and issues emerge, I selectively use "evidence-based" (or scientifically supported) approaches to help my clients cope with specific concerns. Depending on the problem, these might involve learning a specific set of skills such as mindfulness and breathing techniques to cope with anxiety, monitoring and recording one's thoughts on the weekly mood log, or taking some "bold risks" such as asking someone out on a date. Among the many evidence-based therapies out there such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Behavioral Activation, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, my favorite is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
East & West
The beauty of ACT is that it is based on rigorous scientific studies while being wonderfully flexible and holistic. It uses elements of Eastern philosophy to promote acceptance and mindful awareness along with Western behavioral change strategies. All this to promote psychological flexibility. As a Korean American therapist, I have always lived in an "in-between" space between the American way of life versus the Korean way, often choosing and discarding elements of both worlds. So in doing psychotherapy, I find it natural to combine the best elements of both "Eastern" and "Western" psychological resources to assist you in finding your path.
Finally, being an Asian American therapist puts me in a unique position to be sensitive to the ways in which the broader socio-cultural and religious/spiritual systems might impact our clinical work together. It is very important for me to honor your own personal values and your social and cultural background regardless of your race, gender, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background. To help minimize potential conflicts in these matters, I draw from a wide range of experiences, trainings, and ongoing consultations to ensure that my own cultural/social biases do not serve as a barrier to your own growth and transformation.
PHILLIP CHA, LMFT
310 3rd Avenue
San Francisco, California 94118