P.S: If you are not Asian American, but belong to a minority group (ie: immigrant or children of immigrants, person of color, female, marginalized) , my work can be effective for you too.
There are specific reasons for why and how Asian Americans experience their mental health issues.There’s a reason why those memes on Subtle Asian Traits seem so universal among such a diverse group as Asian Americans.
Asian Americans trace their heritage back to cultures with strong hierarchies for social structure, such as Confucianism, a caste system, or plain old patriarchy. These are enduring, collective societies where people are expected to care for others first before attending to their own needs. These social structures tend to involve one category of people (think: young people or women) sacrificing their wants and needs to fulfill those of others with the assumption that those who give will be paid back for their sacrifice later. We can assume this system worked reasonably well back then for it to last so long.
However, Asian Americans find themselves in a different context. We live in an individualistic society, growing up with the promises that we will find ourselves and have the ability to pursue our own happiness. We learn in American culture, that we will not achieve our goals if we do not advocate for ourselves. What worked before, does not work anymore.
What happens when these two different cultures collide? There exists a schism in Asian Americans: one that creates guilt for feeling that we’ve turned our back on our heritage, yet at the same time hints that we can have more.
In our therapy work, we will unpack this complex dynamic that is pervasive among most Asian cultures and ask the big question: How can my identity as an Asian American empower me rather than hold me back? We will examine how intergenerational trauma has affected your parents’ and grandparents’ capacity to teach you healthy emotional and communication skills. I’m thinking about big events such as the Chinese Communist Revolution, the Vietnam War, the India- Pakistan Partition, and others like those that have majorly impacted the emotional lives of your family.
That’s some heavy stuff to inherit. These issues can manifest in us as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, people pleasing, co-dependency, and difficulty managing healthy relationships or social interactions. These are some examples, but you have your own unique story. This is powerful work we will do, but by addressing these issues stemming from your cultural identity, many aspects of your life can be greatly improved.