Surviving the Holidays

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

SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS

a Brief Group

December 18th, 2015

1100 Sanchez Street

San Francisco, CA 94114

4:30-7pm
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

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.

(more…)

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.

Finding Strength Amidst Our Thorns

8th February, 2013 - Posted by Marie Fang - No Comments

Sometimes in our culture it’s easy to talk about our strengths but shy away from any talk of our weaknesses or struggles, even in Christian contexts. We’re supposed to look like we have it all together, and even though everyone knows we all have difficulties, somehow we convince ourselves that if we hide them then it will seem like we have fewer problems than other people.

But that’s just it, we all have problems. What does this mean though? Sometimes when we realize the extent of our own issues we can sulk in our own self-pity or self-hatred. Some even find themselves in a stupor of darkness that makes life seem not worth living anymore.

What does God have to say about this? I encountered this passage recently and I think it offers insights about God’s perspective of our weaknesses that may differ from what you might expect. Here Paul shares about himself in a letter to the Corinthians:

“…In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

-2 Corinthians 12:7b-10

Those final words ring so powerfully – “When I am weak, then I am strong.” The concept of depending on someone else for strength is so countercultural, yet it’s inherent in our imperfections that we need help in order to survive. God redeems us by being our strength and support amidst our brokenness, such that our weaknesses only help point us to our need for Him. Some food for thought for the next time you find yourself feeling badly for being less than perfect.

-Marie Fang, Psy.D.

First Impressions

30th January, 2013 - Posted by Marie Fang - No Comments

We’re all familiar with what it feels like when we’re in a new environment, maybe after starting at a new school, job, or church where you’re surrounded by unknown faces. Often we’re concerned about how we should act around other people to make a good impression. If we’re at a  new school, we may be considering what kind of “persona” we want to give off to others to appear cool or interesting. If we’re at a new job, we may want others to see how productive and talented we are. If we’re at a church, we may want to somehow exude our “holiness” to others (whatever that looks like exactly).

If you’re like most people, you may spend a sizable amount of time considering how you appear to others in these situations, and may even be worried or anxious about it. Somehow we can get so caught up in these concerns that we often forget that the very people we are trying to impress may also be having similar anxieties about what you may be thinking about them.

Sometimes I wonder what sort of effect this universal sense of self-consciousness may have on first impressions. Is it possible that we spend so much time worrying about what others think that we actually miss opportunities to meet new friends?

What if we saw ourselves the way God sees us? How does God see us, anyway? I think it’s easy to forget, so here are some reminders: God’s word says “God created man in His own image” (Gen 1:27), and that “you are God’s temple” (1 Cor 3:16). Imagine if instead of focusing so much on what other people think, you truly believed that God sees you as His temple. Do you think people might notice that and, in turn, be more likely to find you likable?

Try it! You may be pleasantly surprised. You may also find that others may be more genuine when they see that you aren’t putting up a front.

-Marie Fang, Psy.D.

“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

Renew Your Mind – One Thought At A Time

30th July, 2011 - Posted by Christine - No Comments

What do I mean when I say – “Renew your mind” ?

I mean a few things, but I’ll start by sharing one concrete suggestion: Renew your mind by focusing on changing one thought at a time (removing a destructive one, while replacing it with a constructive one).

Why even try?

Because what you think about daily matters.  It affects your body, your spirit, your heart – and it affects those around you.  Your thoughts can lift you up and energize you, or they can drag you down and paralyze you.

So, how do we start?

Start small and start simple.  Take a look at what fills your mind each day – what are you thinking about? where do your thoughts originate and where do they end? Perhaps most importantly, where do they lead you – mentally and behaviorally – as you relate to yourself and others? Are your thoughts mostly negative? positive? reasonable? delusional? real? destructive or constructive? healthy or unhealthy? life-producing or self-defeating? self-sabotaging? Are you constantly thinking about what OTHERS are thinking? Are you constantly frustrated or annoyed at someone else, at yourself, at the world?

Our well-being is often determined by what our thoughts are filled with – so try it out for today.

(more…)

Secret to Authentic Relationships – Workshop 11/8

30th September, 2010 - Posted by Colleen - No Comments

Why Therapy?

28th July, 2010 - Posted by Myrna - No Comments

What does therapy do that your friends, family, pastor, or others can’t do for you?

Therapy can provide objectivity. Often the people who are close to you, even if they see the issues clearly, are not able to give you the feedback you need in a candid or helpful manner.

Therapy can help you see what’s going on in the hidden places in your life that you can’t seem to access on your own. It makes the unconscious conscious. Once that happens, you can decide how to proceed with the new information.

Therapy can be a safe place to say many things which you have been afraid to voice to anyone else. Sometimes these hidden thoughts keep you stuck.

Therapy can be a safe place to discuss areas of hurt or abuse that seem too hard for others to hear. Therapists are trained to “handle” those difficult or painful issues.

Therapy can be as open-ended as needed for you to heal or make the changes desired in your life. Friends sometimes weary of hearing your problems and are at a loss as to how to help you. Pastors often cannot realistically devote the time needed for the support you need for your particular recovery.

Therapy can be a place to learn some skills for communicating better and to resolve conflict. Many people do not learn these skills growing up.