Tag Archives: therapy

Vers??

Throughout most of my PhD program, I provided therapy two days a week. I liked this setup: I enjoyed the empathy, compassion, and interpersonal acuity of therapy, then on the other days I found satisfaction conducting research, teaching, or engaging in some form of mentorship or advocacy. The flexibility of my schedule helped me avoid getting stressed; I could go on a jog at 2pm on a weekday and work on my research during the weekends instead of dating and settling for a mediocre man, reading multiple books by mediocre white male authors, knowing how to put together furniture, etc.

Now, on residency, I provide therapy for more than two days a week. I still love the therapy and want to keep at it after I get my PhD, and at the same time I want to go back to a more research and teaching-focused schedule after this year – which aligns with how I have applied for a ton of academic and research positions starting in summer or fall of 2023. While I feel comfortable with my path, over the past few weeks I have talked with my friends and supervisors about the question: does not wanting to do therapy full time make me a bad person?

It’s obvious that this question is a cognitive distortion for many reasons. Continue reading

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Disappointment

A couple of weeks ago I went on a coffee date with a queer Chinese man from my local gay tennis league. This guy loved talking about tennis, so I let him steer the conversation into topics such as: how long we had been playing tennis, how we felt about our performance in the summer challenge ladder, and tennis tournaments taking place in nearby cities. Somehow the conversation shifted into talking about racialized dating preferences. This man proceeded to tell me that he does not find it problematic for queer Asian men to prefer white men over men of other races *and* that he finds white and Asian men more attractive than Black and Latinx men. I felt triggered when he made these racist comments; my body tensed and I felt my heart rate increase. Later in the day I emailed him my recently published peer-reviewed paper on the topic and checked his name off on my mental list of men who I will not associate with in the future.

I talked about this encounter with one of my best friends Bri. Continue reading

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Men

I went on three dates with three different guys in the past two weeks. The most recent date took place in a bar in Cambridge with the first white guy I had gone out with in a few years. He graduated from Harvard, worked as a political consultant, and bored the heck out of me. The date itself had been pleasant enough and I got him to pay for my drink, though I still felt disappointed as I left the bar and walked back to my apartment.

A few years ago, I think I would have experienced a more extreme reaction to this mediocre date. Continue reading

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The End (?)

In my most recent session with my therapist, she and I decided that we would stop seeing each other after two more meetings. Logistics initiated this shift – my residency starts on June 30 and I will have far less free time then in my schedule for a weekly therapy session. The choice to end therapy, for now, feels quite emotional though, in large part because of how I have attended therapy for six of the past seven years.

I remember at one point in undergrad talking with one of my favorite mentors on the phone while sitting on the floor of a bathroom in the main campus library. Continue reading

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The Revolution Out There

I remember sitting at the kitchen table of my childhood home, sometime in middle school or high school, listening to my mom talk about two college-aged Vietnamese kids she knew through her friend circle. They had been dating – a young woman who went to Virginia Tech and a young man who turned down Cornell to follow her. They had broken up, and my mom shared the news in an excited yet hushed tone, even though only she and I occupied the kitchen. I wonder if he regrets turning down the Ivy League, I recall my mom saying. What a waste, she said, to follow someone to a school like Virginia Tech and for it not to even work out.

Whenever my mom praised prestigious colleges and the people who attended them, I always rolled my eyes on the inside. Continue reading

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Once in a Lifetime

Growing up, I told my grandmother that I wish she had been my mother instead of my actual biological mother. I said this to my grandmother because she gave me everything my bio mother did not: unconditional acceptance, a safe space to cry, and a celebration of my more femme qualities. When I said this to my grandmother, she would give me a look of fake sternness before laughing and smiling with me about it.

When my grandmother died in 2017, I felt sad though also prepared. Continue reading

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Idealization

I had stopped seeing my therapist L in 2017. After two years of therapy then, I felt I had grown a lot, such as learning to communicate more directly instead of passive aggressively, to tolerate my more intense emotions, and to process my traumatic childhood. However, elements of our work together still felt unresolved. In particular, I still questioned at times whether L cared for me. Though a skilled therapist, he had not been a particularly nurturing one – which he himself said multiple times – and I wondered what that meant for our therapeutic relationship.

When I saw him last week, I made a comment about how I write about him on this blog. Continue reading

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My Turn

This week I visited my old undergraduate college. I decided to go see my little cousin who attends that school now; at one point I promised her I would, and I figured better to do it now than when I live a ten hour drive away in the Boston area. About a week prior visiting I reached out to my former therapist L to see if we could meet to catch up and talk a bit about our therapy work together.

I had talked with my current therapist about whether I should reach out to L. Some of my old concerns about L and I emerged – would this come across as too needy, will he think of me as annoying – though I also felt that as a 26-year-old with almost 900 clinical hours under my belt, I was more prepared than ever before to talk about our therapeutic relationship and to address some of my unresolved questions about it. When I reached out, he replied soon after and said that it was good to hear from me and that he would be happy to talk.

It felt surreal stepping into L’s office, the same office I had seen him in five years ago. Continue reading

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Wanting

A desire I felt ashamed of: I had wanted my first long-term therapist L to attend my college graduation. When I stood on the auditorium stage receiving an award in 2017, I thought less about the work I had put into my academics over the past few years and more about the effort I had spent in my therapy with him. I felt fine that L had not attended, though I had always perceived my desire to see him there as too needy or too much in some way.

“I totally get why he couldn’t attend, because of ethics and stuff,” I said to my current therapist over Zoom a few weeks ago. I had never told anyone about wanting to see L at my college graduation before this. “I feel some shame though that I had wanted him there at all.”

“Thomas, it’s completely normal and makes sense that you wanted L to be there,” she said. “You two really cared for each other.”

When my therapist shared this, I started to tear up a bit. Continue reading

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What Matters

Oh my goodness screaming: I matched at H*rvard Medical School for my final year of my Psychology PhD program! The email arrived in my inbox at 5:06AM yesterday, right after I rolled out of bed and brushed my teeth in my Seattle hotel room. I feel excited because this position focuses on conducting therapy and research related to serving marginalized and vulnerable populations in the Boston area, which aligns so well with my values.

I visited Seattle so I could spend the days before and after match with my bff Bri! Here is the fantastic dinner we had the night before the Match results.
Also omfg there’s a cafe that sells acai bowls within walking distance of my hotel room and I’m LIVING. I’m fruity and so are these bowls and that’s why we stan (feat. a random meat bun).

In some ways this match process reminds me of when I graduated from undergrad in 2017. Continue reading

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