Helping Couples and Parents of American Born Chinese
Winnis Chiang, MA, LMFT (California License # LMFT 39732)
Frequently Asked Questions About Counseling and Coaching
1. What are some of the benefits of play therapy, parent coaching,
couples therapy, or family counseling?
Benefits are tied to your expectations and goals. In this busy world, many people seek my help
to sort out what they really feel, think, believe, need, want, and wish when they have mixed
feelings about someone and/or something they love. Recognizing our own feelings allow us to
share without blaming or withdrawing. I believe families (including family of origin, church
family and the workplace) is the most important context in which we learn and grow. Our
interactive dynamics affect our functioning and emotional well-being. Here are some possible
- Your child's or teenager's behavior or emotional problems are reduced or eliminated.
- You feel understood by your spouse, kids, co-workers, and vice versa.
- You feel accepted and being supported in a team rather than toughing it out on your own.
- Your relationships with yourself, others, and God will be renewed.
2. Do you exclusively work with OBC couples and parents of ABCs?
Not at all. However, because of my own culture, language, and family background, I am most
sought after by Chinese Americans (OBC and ABCs). There are other sub-cultures that I serve
best. For example, because I was an engineer and manager in the Silicon Valley for 19 years, I
attract high-functioning professionals (men and women) who are managers, engineers,
accountants, and doctors but are unhappy with their relationships. Since I have made many
tough decisions as a wife and mother, I work well with stay-at-home moms who are highly
educated and capable yet want to put their families first. I also work with parents who are
separated and divorced, and those with blended family with co-parenting issues.
I was born in Hong Kong and I married someone from Taiwan, and we raised a son who is an
American Born Chinese. Even though we are all Chinese Americans, I have realized how
different we are from each other. I consider it my calling to bridge gaps and help hurting people
to experience authentic love and restoration that transcends barriers of gender, age, language,
ethnicity, culture, education, socio-economic status, and life experience. I have integrated my
East-West heritage to help Asian Americans born in the United States or came from Far East
and South East Asia. I am especially passionate about counseling girls adopted from China by
I worked in High-tech industries until 1995 in the Silicon Valley. As a manager, I was leading,
coaching, and mentoring people from around the world. As a counseling intern, there was a
time that I worked primarily with Caucasians, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans
because it was uncommon for Chinese and Asians to seek help outside of their families. Since
then, my clients include Asian Americans who (or their parents) are from Hong Kong, Taiwan,
China, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, and
3. What is your approach to understanding people's problems and helping
them grow and change through counseling? Please describe this
I believe every human being has problems and growing pains. There will be no growth unless
we face our fears and anxieties. Growth comes from self-discovery, deep sharing, and the
willingness to explore change and take risks. I listen attentively and actively for understanding
and acceptance without judging my clients. I listen to their pains, struggles, and needs to
assess their situations. I help them clarify their goals and sort out their mixed feelings. I help
them to (re-)discover self and learn how to assertively communicate with people they care
about. When someone commits to some short- or long-term goal, I provide strategies, practical
tips, tools, small steps, encouragement, and support for them to get there. I believe everyone is
unique and special, so I always start with their strengths as the basis to improve other areas.
For pre-marital counseling and couple therapy, we often start with an on-line couple inventory
called PREPARE/ENRICH. The computerized result identifies areas of strength and areas of
improvements in terms of couple relationships. Significant issues for couples include
communication, conflict resolution, personality issues, financial management, leisure
activities, spiritual beliefs, children and parenting, family and friends, marriage expectations,
and sexual expectation. I conduct feedback sessions that include sharing and exercises
designed to help two people to be separate individuals living together as a couple in healthy
and fulfilling relationship.
I also help individual adults, children and adolescents with strategies and tools to better
communicate, resolve conflicts, and build relationships. In the case of parenting, depending on
your situation, I may focus on helping the parents individually or as a couple, working with a
particular child or teenager using Play Therapy, or bringing the whole family together in
4. What are books or other resources that you recommend on a regular
basis or that have most influenced you in your approach to counseling?
I believe in a growth (instead of mental illness) model in counseling. Therefore, I do a little bit of
education in each session. Books that influenced my approach include the Bible and "How
People Grow" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I believe every human being needs love,
acceptance, forgiveness, and reconciliation as well as practical ways to relate to self, others,
I believe couple and parent-child relationship has great impact from generation to generation,
and something has to be done in order to break unhealthy patterns and vicious cycles. I believe
individuals are unique and special. When two different people live or work together, the
accumulation of anxiety and tension of being together and being separate is inevitable. With
unhealthy coping mechanisms, these anxieties will create misunderstandings and hurt
feelings. There are ways to interact so that others will feel loved, cared for, accepted, respected
and valued instead of feeling frustrated, anxious, disappointed or hurt. Often times people are
stuck because they don't know what to do, or they know what to do but do not want to make the
first move out of self protection. Therefore I focus on helping couples to listen for underlying
pain and stop triggering each other.
There are too many books to list. For couples, I often recommend books like "The Five Love
Languages" by Gary Chapman and "Tell Me No Lies" by Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson
because I believe every couple needs to learn how to continuously express and maintain their
love, care and trust for each other even when the honeymoon is over. My goal is to help couples
to figure out how to enjoy one another all life long in spite of differences.
5. Are you a Christian? How does your faith affect your view and practice
I am a born-again Christian since January 1989. Because of my faith, I see people as God's
creation who are worthy of love, acceptance and respect. I celebrate our differences and
diversities! Counseling helps people deal with their emotional pains and grow into maturity. I
believe people can help each other heal but only God cures. I believe God loves the world and
that he gives people freedom of choices and second (and multiple) chances.
Because my hope is in God, I accept people just as they are without forcing them to change
before they are ready. I believe God takes personal interest in each person and reaches out to
us. Therefore, I gently reach, train and lead people. Also, my faith helps me not to over-burden
myself with everyone's problems even though I empathize with their feelings.
6. Do you bring Christian truth into your counseling and coaching
practice? How? What role does the Scripture play?
I believe all truths are God's truth. In my practice, I expose people to all truth (including spiritual
matters and issues of faith) but I never impose my personal belief on my clients. As a Christian,
I pray for all my clients outside of the counseling and coaching room because I care about them
as human beings. Since my clients may or may not be Christians, I use Scriptures only when it
is called for by the situational and personal needs of my clients. I read the Bible daily for His
7. Do you pray with those you counsel?
Similar to the above answer, I pray with someone only when it is appropriate for that person's
specific circumstances. I know individuals who have been hurt by others who claimed to be
Christians. My objective is to do no harm and I am very sensitive to the needs of my clients.
8. Do you go to church? If so, where and how long have you been a
I have attended Chinese Christian churches ever since January 1989. My first church is in
South Bay. I was baptized there in April 1989 and became a deaconess there in 1994 in charge
of ministry to children. It was during that time that I decided to become a stay-at-home mom
and (by the grace of God) attend a seminary to study counseling. When I graduated in 1998, my
home church offered me to serve as a full-time staff ministering to children and their families. (It
was during that time that I counseled kids at public schools for a community agency to
accumulate my 3,000 hours of internship. I was licensed in April 2003.) Since January 2005, I
have been attending a church in the East Bay where my husband started his pastoral ministry
in July 2004 after receiving his Masters of Divinity degree from Western Seminary. We stayed
there until end of March 2010. He is currently pastoring another church in the South Bay.
9. What is your educational and professional background? What role does
it play in your counseling practice?
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from U.C.
Berkeley (1976) and a Masters of Arts degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling from
Western Seminary (1998). A life long learner, I love learning from seminars and workshops as
a software professional, teacher, minister and counselor. My ongoing interests in learning have
allowed me to work with people in both the high-tech and the high-touch world. I integrate my
education, training and experience into my life and practice.
Since 1997, I have been counseling clients in clinical settings but I have been mentoring and
coaching people in various capacities from 1976. Helping people grow is what I love to do and
best at, whether I was leading software development teams, pastoring children and families, or
counseling clients. Because of the these experiences, I am very comfortable working with men,
women, children, and adolescents as individuals, couples and families. Because I am fluent in
English, Mandarin and Cantonese and understand multiple Asian sub-cultures, I specialize in
working with Chinese and Asian Americans (born overseas or in the United States).
10. Are you married? Do you have children? Have you ever been
divorced? How does your marriage and family situation affect how you
I have been married to my husband since July 1975 and we have one adult son (who got
married in August 2007). I have never been divorced but I know the pain of marital conflicts and
unhappiness from my family of origin and my own marriage. If interested, you may read my
personal story and relationship articles for more details.
I have first-hand understanding working through marital and parenting struggles, especially
those caused by human differences (e.g. my husband is an analytical thinker and I am an
intuitive feeler). We have worked through our developmental stages as individual, a couple, and
a family. By the grace of God and a brief period of therapy, we are still lovers, best friends, and
partners after entering our empty nest in 2001. My personal experience is why I believe in
marital counseling and parent coaching. I bring hope to people who don't know what to do or
cannot do what they know. I understand their pains.
11. How often you see clients? How do you schedule appointments?
Most clients see me regularly every week for 3-8 times although some people need longer term
treatments. Some clients request intensive services or working with a group, depending on
their situation and desire. When we meet, I will assess your needs and goals and give further
information. Contact me to schedule.
12. How much do you charge for your services? Do you take insurance?
I provide consultation, coaching and counseling to individuals, couples and families for 50-
minute session at $180. I accept check or cash at each session. For coaching, I have prepaid
packages. Some clients prefer group programs at lower cost so please contact me.
I know counseling and coaching are not inexpensive. However, considering the high cost of
broken relationship (such as divorce, misbehaved kids, runaway teens)and the life time values
of improving their health, wealth, relationship and spirituality, my clients are willing to pay out of
I am not a network provider for any insurance company yet I provide monthly receipts for you to
be reimbursed if you have PPO. Given my language, culture and Christian faith specialty, some
clients who have found me their "best fit" have successfully convinced their HMO and EAP to set
up single case agreements to pay me full fee as an out-of-network provider.
I don't offer sliding scales. However, I allocate a percentage of my practice for pro bono services
when I see certain clients at highly discounted rate as a way of giving back to my profession
and community. Sometimes in my newsletter, I offer one FREE 50-minute face-to-face
consultation by drawing. Through my referral source and website, I offer FREE 15-minute
phone interview and consultation.
If you have financial difficulty, I may be able to help you get assistance from your church or
some Christian organizations so that you can work with me. Alternatively, there are low cost
agencies or professionals with sliding scales I know and can refer you to.
13. If I want to refer someone, what should I do?
It is best for me to talk with that person(s) directly to find out their specific needs. If that person
is a minor (under 18), I need to have written consent from his/her parents or guardians before
In any case, I will be glad to help them or refer them to proper care once I know a little bit more
about their circumstances. When someone signs up as my client, I will no longer talk with their
referral source concerning them without obtaining a signed written release so to protect client
confidentiality (except for certain mandatory reporting issues such as child abuse).eap
Winnis Chiang 蔣吳蘊蘭