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: or

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

Friends with the “Monsters”

16th November, 2013 - Posted by Colleen - Comments Off

With Halloween in our rearview mirror, I am reminded that for children, “monsters” are those creepy things that reside under the bed or in the closet when lights go out.
But what about for adults? Who or what are these monsters?
For adults, I sometimes like to think of them as creatures that are called by other names: Mr. Fear and Mrs. Doubt.
They are those painful feelings that humans hate to feel. Yet, we know are inevitable and the more we resist and deny the more they persist. The truth is, they just are, neither “bad” nor “good,” they won’t kill you, and they don’t really last forever.
What if we became friends with these “monsters?” What would it look like to “get along” with the painful feelings?
It would mean successfully coping with very difficult feelings. Not avoiding, denying, or dodging but facing. Now, I know there are some kinds of pain that are too difficult to face alone. For the person of faith, Jesus is faithful and true to walk with us*. For others, this may be a time to tap into their resources and a safe support system.
In any case, facing and addressing the monsters of fear and doubt could leave you feeling empowered and confident. And perhaps the monster’s fearsomeness will be a bit less scary each time you face it. A funny thing could happen: a friendship might develop and the monsters may not really be monsters after all.
*“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV)
-Colleen Lam Nguyen, M.A., MFT Intern

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.


Hearing God’s Voice

22nd February, 2013 - Posted by Marie Fang - No Comments

“…I keep praying for God to answer, but He’s being completely silent.”

How many of you have found yourselves saying these words or something similar? It seems nearly all Christians find themselves asking this question at some point in their faith, if not repeatedly throughout their faith journey. The Psalms reference several instances of experiencing God being silent (Psalms 83, 109). It’s also a common question in the therapy office. Why is it that so many times when we try so hard to reach out to God He seems to be so silent? Wouldn’t God want to always respond valiantly with a loud voice for us to be reassured by His love?

This is not the first time someone has asked this question. A quick Google search reveals infinite ideas regarding why God might be silent. By no means do I hope to even attempt to answer this question within the confines of a blog post. However, it does seem to happen frequently that people experience God as being silent during times of hardship, especially when we are in need of healing.

God hears our cries. Psalms 34:17 says, “God hears his people when they call to Him for help” (NLT). When you cry out to Him and feel like He isn’t responding, rather than ask why God is being silent, I wonder what shift might happen if we instead examined ourselves and looked at what part of us needs healing. Where is that place inside of us that’s hoping to hear from Him? Where do we need Him to come in and rescue us? Give that little voice inside of you a chance to speak up, and invite God into that space. God just might show up.

However, some of you may be reading this and thinking, “I’ve already tried all of that, and I still don’t hear God.” If this is you, I urge you to seek counsel from someone you trust, like a mentor or pastor. Sometimes this may also be an opportunity when the counsel of a therapist may allow you to find light in these times of silence.

-Marie Fang, Psy.D.

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

“Being Fully Yourself…”

4th July, 2012 - Posted by Sam - No Comments

I read something from Psychology Today recently that really intrigued me: “marriage can’t succeed unless we claim our sense of self in the presence of another.” As it made intuitive sense to me, I began to share this definition with some couples that I work with and in some talks that I’ve given in the past month. The phrase comes from an interview with marital therapist Dr. David Schnarch who spoke about how to have a passionate marriage. Let’s ponder about the meaning of “being fully yourself in the presence of another.”

Being fully yourself seems like the most natural way to behave and live. Yet the truth is that some people spend much of their awake time being anything but their true selves. I think the real challenge is how to be ourselves in the presence of another. In some relationships, the individual is caught up in seeking the approval of the partner and fearing the partner’s rejection so that he or she stops being authentic and open. Being fully yourself requires a freedom to express who you are and what you are thinking and feeling at a particular moment. This freedom requires the presence of safety and true acceptance.

The origin of being ourselves fully in the presence of another comes from the Genesis account in the phrase: “and they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:24). God’s original design for the most intimate relationship for humankind is captured in the above account of the first marriage where there is this freedom to be vulnerable and authentic. The nakedness between man and his wife represents more than the absence of any physical covering but also the absence of any psychological or emotional defensiveness.

The entrance of sin into human existence also brought shame about nakedness, guilt and fear, blaming and defensiveness. The phenomenon of hiding first entered the scene between humans nonverbally and then was expressed verbally between man and God. Genesis 3:7 – Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. And then in verse eight and ten: “and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden…I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

It is in the marriage relationship that we can clearly see one of the opportunities for humanity to experience a reversal of this need to hide from each other. Though this may seem like an ideal for some, it is the rich union that some couples are able to experience, if not for long periods of time, at least in moments. The key is learning that you can be exactly and completely who you are while allowing your partner also to be exactly and completely who he or she is.

As a way to gauge whether you are moving towards this ideal in your relationship, ask yourself the following:

  • Do I experience my partner as a safe person? Do I feel a freedom to be fully myself in my partner’s presence?
  • Do I share my opinions and thoughts with my partner?
  • Do I share my preferences, wants, wishes, and deep desires with my partner? Or do I fear rejection and keep most of this to myself?
  • Does my partner experience me as I a safe person? Does my partner feel a freedom to be fully himself or herself in my presence? Or am I someone who is quick to be critical and to judge my partner?

Written by Dr. Sam B. Leong, Psychologist and Marital Therapist