‘Inside Out’ – Perspectives from 3 Christian Therapists

2nd March, 2016 - Posted by Stephanie - No Comments

After Inside Out won Best Animated Feature at the Oscar’s on Sunday, we’d like to share with you a resource from a few of our therapists. Last summer, our staff took a field trip to view this movie together, and it really moved us! So much so that a few of us decided to put our thoughts in writing. As Christian therapists, we provide insights into a few significant areas from the movie that resonate with the struggles of our clients: sadness, anger, and attachment with early caregivers. We hope these writings and reflections allow you to grow spiritually and emotionally… and hopefully laugh a little too! Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, we hope you’ll read on!


~Shared by Stephanie Gluch, Marriage & Family Therapist Intern
~Writings by Dr. Sam Leong (Clinical Psychologist), Dr. Alex Wang (Clinical Psychologist), and Stephanie Gluch (Marriage & Family Therapist Intern)


To view this ebook on Apple IPad devices, download the file here and open it and transfer it to your device: EPUB3 file (.epub)
To view this ebook on Kindle devices and reader apps, download it here and open it up on your device: KF8 file (.mobi)


Surviving the Holidays

9th December, 2015 - Posted by admin - No Comments


a Brief Group

December 18th, 2015

1100 Sanchez Street

San Francisco, CA 94114

Fee: $30
Medicare accepted

The Holidays can be a difficult time for many. Come join us for a group to process and learn tools and skills on how you can survive and thrive during the holidays.

If interested contact: alex@alexwangphd.com or colleen.mft@gmail.com

Co-facilitators: Alex Wang, PhD &

Colleen Lam Nguyen, MFT Intern, supervised by Gracia Wiarda, LMFT

Affiliated with Christian Psychotherapy Services 

click on this link Holiday Group Dec 2015 for pdf version of flyer

Inside Out

23rd August, 2015 - Posted by Sam - No Comments

As is common with most therapists, the opening question at the start of the therapy hour is usually: “what’s on your mind?” This has become more intriguing given the increase in the general public’s understanding of what goes on inside our minds. Some credit goes to this summer’s blockbuster production from Pixar – the “neuroscience rich movie – “Inside Out”. This is a rather cleverly conceived and delightfully delivered movie about Riley, an 11-year-old girl who relocates with her family from Minnesota to San Francisco. The heart of the story is the personification of this girl’s five core emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust), which are colorfully depicted as “live” animated characters.

The movie does an excellent job of increasing the audience’s emotional intelligence in learning how to identify each core emotion and its role in daily life. But it goes further to show the complex interplay of emotions and thoughts and behavior within an individual. Furthermore, viewers gets to see the role that emotions play in organizing one’s life and the impact of core memories in shaping one’s personality. Riley’s dominant emotion from childhood was Joy but as the movie unfolds, the reality of sadness (and loss) plays a bigger role. By the end of the movie there is a greater integration between joy and sadness (as well as other emotions) as portrayed in a vulnerable and intimate family scene where Riley is finally able to share her sad feelings of missing her life and friends in Minnesota.

In our lives, learning how to manage ones emotions is a daily challenge. A good starting point is to know what you are feeling and reflecting on what these feelings are teaching you about what is important to you. How are you doing in identifying your emotions and learning from them?

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

14th April, 2015 - Posted by admin - No Comments

Everyday we are faced with events – ripe for our interpretation.

From the moment we wake to our first hello to a fellow human – we take in information. Our brains work at lightening speed to process meaning to help inform our next step, next word, feelings and behaviors.

Objectivity is rarely a lone ingredient in this process. We all have unique beginnings and environments from which we developed. As a result, we process all these daily events through our individual lens, for better or for worse.

What if we slowed down our day and played it in slow motion? What if we challenged our interpretations and self statements? Could we inject just a little more analysis, logic, and objectivity and alter the narrative that may lead us toward emotional health and freedom?

There is definite power in the stories we tell ourselves.

 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8

-Colleen Lam Nguyen, MFT Intern

10 Reasons Why You’ll Find Pre-marital (or Pre-Engagement) Counseling Helpful

13th March, 2015 - Posted by admin - No Comments

During the spring season, it’s common for couples that are planning weddings to consider their relationship health and search for a pre-marital therapist at our therapy group. Thankfully, my caseload is the fullest it’s been due to this season! So here are some reasons why I think you might consider partnering with a therapist when you’ve decided to commit to your current relationship, or maybe when you’re trying to decide IF to commit!

1. The wedding is just one wonderful day, but the marriage is years filled with both wonderful and hard days

2. Issues are easier to deal with when you’ve made a plan and communicated in advance

3. Couples who are willing to learn and grow together have a much better chance at having a happy relationship

4. A neutral third party can help to best explore different aspects of your relationship

5. Sex doesn’t happen like it does in Hollywood

6. It’s more natural to always tell your spouse what they’re not doing versus learning to communicate your relationships needs and desires

7. Unfinished business is brought to your relationship from your nuclear family and previous romantic relationships

8. Merging 2 different people’s cash, debt, and spending habits is not a straightforward process

9. Often opposites attract which leads to different perspectives and approaches

10. It’s like getting a preventative check-up from a doctor versus receiving medicine when there’s already a problem.

~Our therapy group also works with pre-engagement couples since that can be an even more beneficial time to explore a couple’s developing relationship. In other words, it’s before wedding contracts and deposits have been made. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you feel like you could benefit from this support.

by Stephanie Gluch, Marriage & Family Therapist Intern

SEMINAR: Surviving the Holidays 12/5 @ 6:30pm

2nd December, 2014 - Posted by admin - No Comments

SEMINAR: Surviving the Holidays

Date & Time: Friday, December 5th 6:30-9:00pm

Help for the divorced and separated during the holidays.

If you’re separated or divorced, the holidays can be a lonely, stressful, depressing time. But there’s hope. Join us for an encouraging seminar that will help you survive the holidays and discover new ways to enjoy them again.

Facilitated by Stephanie Gluch, Marriage & Family Therapist Intern
P: (415) 814-0024 | E: stephanie.gluch@gmail.com

Registration is $5/person, but the first 10 people to register will receive a complimentary registration. Contact Stephanie as registration is required.

Space is limited so register early. We hope you can join us!

What lies underneath

13th November, 2014 - Posted by admin - No Comments

I recently heard a yoga teacher say: “The practice of yoga is knowing your body and your unconscious habits. In knowing yourself, you welcome opportunity for changes.”

In other words, knowing yourself and your unconscious habits allows you to identify patterns that may not be helpful in your life. It opens the door for opportunity to make changes. In yoga, knowing your poor posture allows you to strengthen those muscles you need to walk around the world with more flexibility and confidence.

There is a parallel with one’s emotional and spiritual life.

Knowing yourself, your thought processes, core beliefs, and emotions can offer an opportunity for lasting change.

In our fast paced society with smartphones and twitter feeds, it can be difficult to slow down enough to understand and know yourself better. As a Christian, it takes discipline and trust to slow down, look inward and then upward towards the vertical. When we look to God and spend time listening, we can enter His rest. It is here that we can allow the word of God to do its work. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

One simple way to slow down and be open to this process is journaling. It could be a traditional notebook or even your smartphone. There are apps out there to help you!

Journaling can be an invaluable way to know yourself by processing your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings and how they affect your everyday life and major life decisions. You can start out by stating what mood you’re in and chart what thought, person or event triggered it. Ask yourself questions like: When have you felt this way before? Never? Often? As an adult or a child? What thought is attached to this feeling? Is the thought rational or irrational? How can you rewrite that inaccurate recurring thought to make it more rational or accurate? How then does it feel? How does this all relate and connect with your spiritual life? What might God be saying to you in truth and love? After all, He knows all our thoughts before they come to be.

What if I told you, that one hour a week to slow down and process holds the possibility to change the course of your life?

“Great events, we often find, on little things depend, and from very small beginnings, have oft a mighty end.” -From “The Power of the Littles” Anonymous

-Colleen Lam Nguyen, MFT Intern

Vacation Fantasies for Couples

14th July, 2013 - Posted by Myrna - No Comments

Have you ever started your vacation filled with hope for some totally relaxing, do nothing downtime?  Or had hopes of a great travel adventure?  Only to end up deeply disappointed or in a fight with your spouse (or travel partner) over unmet expectations or unfilled fantasies?  If not, you probably don’t take many vacations!

I would like to share some hard-earned wisdom for fulfilling vacation fantasies.

1.  Be clear with yourself about your hopes, dreams and expectations for the vacation.  Do you want to sit by a pool all day and have someone bring you food and drink while you barely stir?  Do you want to go dancing every night?  Do you want to hike in a remote area?  Do you want to explore a new city?  What do you need to happen on this vacation to be able to come home and feel that you actually had a vacation?  You will not be able to talk about this with your traveling partner until your ideas are clear to you.

2.  Share your thoughts (from #1 above) with your traveling partner.

3.  Elicit the same hopes, dreams, and expectations from your traveling partner.  Do not proceed until you know clearly what he or she would like to make it a fulfilled vacation.  If you cannot communicate at this point, you are setting up the perfect storm for conflict over what was not made explicit prior to the vacation.

4.  Discuss budget with your companion.  You may have an expectation of eating in fine restaurants and splurging while your companion may be uncomfortable with such splurges or may be unable to match your budget.

5.  Expect the unexpected. Your flight may be delayed, your hotel room not ready, your campsite reservation lost, your luggage lost, the Grand Canyon is closed for the day (just kidding), or one of a thousand other glitches.  No matter how well you plan, things go wrong.  Your attitude at this point can ruin the vacation or you can make lemonade out of a lemon.

6.  Be realistic about having all of your fantasies come true. Your hotel room may not live up to the photos you saw on the website, the pool may be closed for resurfacing, your neighbors at the next campsite may fight all night or their baby cries all night, your flight may be cancelled or delayed, your luggage may be lost, the museum may be closed on the only day you are in Florence, or your forgot to pack your swimsuit.  Once you lower your expectations to something closer to reality, there is less chance that you will fall apart when these situations occur.

7.  Remember that disappointments listed in #5 and #6 are first-world problems.  Two-thirds of the people in the world don’t even have a concept of a vacation.  They are trying to figure out how to get food for the next meal for their families.  Thank God that you are so blessed that you have a job or finances that provides such a luxury.

8.  Sometimes the best memories of a vacation – the ones that provide great stories or big laughs – are from things gone wrong and how you coped.

9.  After back from vacation, take time to debrief with your traveling companion, what went well, what was most fun or refreshing or fulfilling, and what you learned about vacations and what you would do differently next time.  Be sure to celebrate all that went well.

Bon voyage!

Myrna L. Klassen, MFT

Keeping an eternal perspective

9th June, 2013 - Posted by Christine - No Comments

Once a month, our group practice gets together to share a devotional with one another for encouragement and support.  This month was my turn to facilitate our discussion.  After much thought and prayer, I was reminded of the topic of Eternity as a thought I love contemplating over.

Pastor Tim Keller says:

“Human beings are hope-shaped creatures. How you live today is completely shaped by what you believe about your future.

I really agree with that line – what we believe about our future directly impacts how we view our current circumstances and how we live each day.  In fact, it directly affects my daily work as well.  I firmly believe that my clients were created for freedom, intimacy, and wholeness.  I believe God is in the business of redemption, and will redeem their lives.  I believe God has a story of redemption written into all of our lives.  I believe even before we experienced pain and suffering, he already knew in his mind how he would redeem us.  We need only to respond willingly and openly to his pursuit of us.

During this devotional time with my colleagues, we contemplated over the following passages (and various versions of the same text) and shared our perspectives on how having an eternal perspective can really encourage ourselves and our clients in the here and now.  We laughed as we tried with our little minds to envision what the new heavens and new earth might look like.  One colleague referenced an author who said something to the effect of how we don’t even have half the alphabet to describe how glorious and majestic and beautiful it will be.  This is so true.  Our restored world, our resurrected new earth, is going to be more beautiful and captivating than we could ever conjure up in our own minds.

Until that day, I know God still asks us to pray for that kingdom to come here on earth so I pray that we would all look forward to eternity, but also trust and hope for that perfect intimacy, the way God intended us to be, to come into fruition even now.  I pray we would walk in light of our true identities in him, as his beloved children, having the legal rights as his sons and daughters.  This is the gospel! We are not only forgiven because of Jesus, we have been credited his perfection and his resume.  I pray we would walk in freedom knowing we are secure, worthy, acceptable, because when he looks at us, He sees Christ’s past and present, not our own.  We are defined by what God says about us, not our own thoughts of ourselves, and God says we are secure, significant, precious, safe in him, because he has clothed us with his son’s identity.

May we always reflect upon this amazing truth about how God views us and what he has secured for our future (perfect intimacy with him), and let it seep into our bones to transform the way we view him, ourselves, our circumstances.  I pray we would keep an eternal perspective: that we would remember God’s future grace of promised peace and joy, and I pray we would let this hope and belief about our future transform the way we live today.

Please feel free to click below to read our devotional passages and discussion questions.


Counseling & the Gospel

28th August, 2012 - Posted by Christine - No Comments

“The fruit of wise counseling is spiritually mature people who increasingly reflect Christ (relationally, rationally, volitionally, and emotionally)” -Bob Kellemen, The Gospel Coalition

“The aim of wise counseling is intentional and intensive discipleship.” -Biblical Counseling Coalition

I recently came across the above two quotes which reminded me of a post I wrote on my blog a few months ago.  I’d like to share a portion of it here as well:

“We are part of God’s larger story of redemption.  Why else would the Bible be full of stories of individuals & families and what God has done in and through them, so powerfully and actively?  It is full of stories of His redemption in specific people’s lives.  The Bible’s foundation is rooted in the gospel:

The gospel is the good news of the new world coming. The plot-line of the Bible is:

1) God created the world,
2) The world and humanity fell into sin and decay (brokenness),
3) But God sends his Son to redeem the world and create a new humanity, and
4) Eventually the whole world will be renewed. Death, decay, injustice, and suffering will be all removed.

(above definition from Tim Keller)

When people come to counseling, they are confessing their brokenness and need for help, and God is revealing what His plan of redemption is in the lives of these individuals he loves.  Counseling is not selfish, self-focused, or self-centered.  We are looking to God for help, dependent on His holy spirit to intervene, and partaking in His greater story of redemption.  People come to seek freedom, to live into who He made them to be.  God gets the glory.  And His children experience restoration and transformation.  New life.  It’s not overnight.  It takes time.  But I believe that God’s plan for redemption and restoration is completely connected to counseling.  Counseling, then, becomes a picture of the gospel in many ways.”

For the original post, please visit: Vision, Redemption, Counseling.

Written by: Christine Chiu, MFT

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