His father's death sent Jeff Yeom to see his school counselor, where he felt comforted and seen despite undergoing immense trauma. After he decided to share, he couldn’t stop. Speaking openly, and forgiving abundantly allowed Jeff Yeom to find people and understand his own desire to become a therapist.
[00:00:00] Helen Garcia: Hello, and welcome to the think weird podcast. I'm Helen. Thank weird is a safe place to rest your head, but you get to know the brain with less woo and less complication. Now, this episode is really special to me because Jeff Hume has taught me a lot about forgiveness, internal racism and advocacy, and social advocacy in the way that you show up for your clients as a highly sensitive person, and as someone who has gone through.
[00:00:40] Warning this episode does have remnants of death dying and murder when it comes to Jeff's story. So just as a heads up, if you're looking for something, that's going to give you a little hope in humanity. This is one of those episodes. I really love this interview. It's probably one of my top two favorites.
[00:00:59] So I hope you enjoy the disclaimer, not intended to be a replacement for therapeutic. And or advice that will overrule your medical doctor, please consult a medical professional for your individual needs. This is for entertainment purposes only. Now a word from our sponsors. Riverside is used by me alongside more than 70,000 people ranging from individual creators.
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[00:02:22] Or the interview Jeff was talking about how he took a major fall on the right side of his cheek?
[00:02:29] Jeff Yeom: Yeah. Oh my gosh.
[00:02:32] Helen Garcia: Yup. Yup. Did you feel the impact
[00:02:34] Jeff Yeom: right away? I didn't actually, I was just left wondering what just happened. I felt something on my face right after. And I was like, oh no, it's probably gushing blood.
[00:02:49] And then some person yelled from across the street. Hey, do you want me to call an ambulance? And I said, no, I'm fine. And then I didn't have a ride. And I was like, oh no, I have to ride back. And then eventually I got a ride, but oh, my hip was bruised and. I like clenched out on my teeth over the backside of my jaw kind of hurts.
[00:03:12] And I was like, what if I broke my face? But
[00:03:16] Helen Garcia: was it like gushing blood? Was it gushing blood? Like,
[00:03:19] Jeff Yeom: it was just like a little bit, it was just a little bit. I am on tech talk a little bit so I immediately start recording and I was like, oh, everyone's like, oh my gosh, are you okay? I'm that's why I have this big old bandaid.
[00:03:40] Helen Garcia: I wanted to ask you Jeff, like, are you a first-generation immigrant?
[00:03:47] Jeff Yeom: Okay. You know, I pride myself on being raised in a very Korean home. And I feel like the majority of my life, or at least now half of my life. Sort of feel like a 1.5 gym, but I'm actually the second I'm
[00:04:04] Helen Garcia: a half-day I came here when I was fast.
[00:04:07] Yeah. Yeah. And then I was raised here, but like Filipino, very Filipino home, like listen to your parents and like, and, and don't go beyond like what's being talked about. And I guess like, my question for you is like, was it hard to go into private practice, their peak. There's a lot behind that. Isn't there,
[00:04:30] Jeff Yeom: there is.
[00:04:30] Okay. So my journey to mental health is a little bit, probably different than most therapists. Like, I didn't know. I didn't know I wanted to do this. The thing that I can think about was probably my high school guidance counselor, who played a big role in my life. He didn't do therapy or anything like that.
[00:04:49] He was just a constant presence when I was going through some trauma and. That's something that I had thought about, which I went into psychology, but the possibility of a therapist was not something that crossed my mind. When I talked to a lot of therapists now yes, there are some that came from other careers, but a lot of them were like, oh, I was in behavior health.
[00:05:14] I was in suicide prevention a, a, B is it behavior behavioral? I was like I didn't do any of that. Retail. I wasn't, I was coaching tennis. I was doing all these things that were not really related to therapy in some ways. And so I've just heard horror stories about community mental health and like government agencies.
[00:05:38] And so I said, okay, for my own mental health, let's just try for private practice and see what happens. And so I had never. When I found yellow char collective, which is where I work as an associate marriage and family therapist. I didn't know. It would be predominantly Asian therapists. I was shook. I was like, whoa, this is something new because I've never encountered Asian therapists before.
[00:06:08] Like you don't see very many of them. But then I thought it was a little bit weird at first. As, at least in my experience, we don't talk about mental health. And so to find other fellow Asian, east Asian Asian-American therapist, I was like, okay, I don't hate this, but I feel weird about
[00:06:32] it was weird because, okay. So I grew up in Oregon and. If people may know or may not know, but it's predominantly like a white suburbia state and there's like pockets of communities or minorities. But for me, I felt very much, and I became aware of this maybe late or after college that I was in very many white spaces.
[00:06:58] And at first I felt more comfortable being in white spaces. So I had a bit of a what was it? Self racism. What's the word again? Internalized racism. There we go. Where, if I was in more Asian spaces, I felt very uncomfortable because I was so used to seeing white people all the time.
[00:07:22] Helen Garcia: Yeah. Yeah. I share that.
[00:07:26] It's interesting, Jeff, because I, I relate to you a lot. I actually do. I was a biochemistry major, never grew up learning about mental health and my family. And then therapy was open in my college and I just started going, but the therapist was horrible and like, I, you don't have anything for me to talk about, so just leave, but it was an interesting it was an interesting journey because I worked in retail.
[00:07:52] I was also doing like tutoring. I kind of did like every little thing. And then. My mom was like, Hey, you're really good at talking to people. And I ran into this person at my job. My mom's a nurse in social work. Do you know what that is? Social work. I was like, what the heck is that?
[00:08:10] Jeff Yeom: Right. So I was like, we don't rely on services.
[00:08:15] Helen Garcia: Yeah, exactly. And I feel like one of the things that I grew up with as like a [00:08:20] Southeast, is it, is it no Southwest, I guess you can call us Southwest or Southeast
[00:08:25] Jeff Yeom: Philadelphia. Or maybe Southwest, where is that? Compass is my question.
[00:08:32] Helen Garcia: I have, no, I have no idea. I feel like the United States is usually like the center. So I guess like, if you look at Asia, like if you're east Asian, then I must be, I have no idea. Let's just I'll fact check it later, but like, Yeah, well, my, my family still thinks it's thinks they still think it's a weird idea that I'm in mental health and they don't understand it.
[00:09:00] And so I feel like does your family understand. Your job.
[00:09:06] Jeff Yeom: So my grandmother doesn't really know what I do. My aunts and uncles, I'm not too close with them. We have a very small family. Unfortunately. My mom at first, she was like, what's their view? Why are you going into it? What's wrong. And it's, it's taken a really long time for me to.
[00:09:27] Or for her to get comfortable with the idea because feelings and emotions were never something that she talked about. And then, and then my dad, he unfortunately passed away when I was in my early teens. And so I didn't have to really explain anything to that. My sister was very understanding.
[00:09:47] She's like, oh, I could see why you're going into therapy. And I actually talked to her. Looking into therapy as well. My former pastor, he, I don't think he was unaware of therapy, but when I told him about what I was, the jobs I was applying for, he's like, oh, I'm sure that's really important because like, spirituality is important.
[00:10:09] So why wouldn't mental health be any different? And so I was like, oh, well he always gets it. But other Korean. Psychology sociology. Why don't you just go into biology? What is that? So it wasn't really a recognized field.
[00:10:28] Helen Garcia: Yeah. I graduated with a sociology degree cause I hated science, which is such a huge, it's such the opposite of like an Asian.
[00:10:39] What's the word stereotype because oh yeah. People think, well, I am pretty good at like mental math, but like fifth grade addition, like multiplication type of math. But when it comes to like calculus, I was like one of those students that just like showed up to class and just like prayed for a good grade.
[00:10:58] And it's like, let's just hope to God that this is like, at least a C. And then I passed the class.
[00:11:05] Jeff Yeom: Okay. Okay. I think my trauma for allowing me to drop out of my pre-calculus class, I was like, I can't handle this with what I'm going through. You can drop,
[00:11:18] Helen Garcia: I want to be sensitive to that. Like how did, how did your dad die?
[00:11:23] Jeff Yeom: Oh, man. He was a victim of a shooting robbery. Actually. I know it shocks people every time. They're like Jeff, you're such a, happy-go-lucky kind of guy, so youthful, but when you really get to know me, I have a deeper history of trauma and yeah, she was shot in the head and I just want to be sensitive for all the people who are listening to yeah.
[00:11:49] He was paralyzed for a year and a half, and then he passed away due to a blood infection because you know, your body just shut down. And that was something that has kept my spirituality alive and has given me a heart for social justice, because I wrote a letter to the guy who the suspect, and we ended up having a couple of letters exchanged and.
[00:12:16] I heard a bit more about where his story was, and that changed the world for me, I could no longer discount the experiences that he was going through and he lost his community. He was caught up in drugs and alcohol. I mean, it was, it was rough for him and he was really young. And I actually got in contact with the designated driver of that crime.
[00:12:41] And he also had told me, yeah, How he was lost from his community and they're both, I believe, Japanese or Chamorro. And so that changed my whole perspective on how we should see people as humans and not as like a, you're a bad behavior type situation, you know, it's beautiful. That's
[00:13:07] Helen Garcia: how you get to that point to like, watch your dad die and then to like, get to a place like what's the middle of the story to like write a letter to someone who killed.
[00:13:18] The people who killed him, actually.
[00:13:20] Jeff Yeom: Yeah. So I remember we grew up Christian and I know that was important for us. And now would you, if you asked me, am I Christian? I'd be like, well, I still hold on to the teachings of Jesus, but oh, the church has a, somewhat of a love, hate relationship. But my mother. I remember her opening up the Bible and she was like reading something out of scripture saying like, we will forgive those that hurt us.
[00:13:51] And I was just thinking, how do, how do we do that? If somebody did something so horribly to us. And that's something that I wrestled for years. And then I was talking to one of my coworkers at Lula. Shout out Glenda, Lulu lemon. I was working there and one of my coworkers said, you should listen to this podcast.
[00:14:12] It's called cereal or something like that. And I was like, okay,
[00:14:18] Helen Garcia: was it the season with OD non or what, what season was that one?
[00:14:22] Jeff Yeom: I don't remember. It was so long ago. It was so long ago. And I remember listening to a story of a father who had adopted a daughter and I believe somebody had wrote. And murdered her.
[00:14:37] And he was like, what happened? Like I wanna know. So he wrote a letter and I was like, do I really want to do this? Like, this is really triggering. And I decided, you know what? I want to know what was going on. And so I did, and this is not something that anyone should try to follow. I wanted to know more.
[00:15:02] And at the time I had this like savior complex where I could rescue people and help people. But then that was really unhealthy at the time. So I took a break. So it's not for everyone. Everyone has their own path. It's okay. If you want justice for that person it's really your journey. But a part like spirituality influences like podcasts.
[00:15:29] Helen Garcia: How old were you at that point when you heard about serial and decided to write a letter?
[00:15:35] Jeff Yeom: So my dad passed away when I was around 16 and then I heard that podcast. Like maybe 22, 23. Yeah. It was a while long before I decided, so don't think I was like the next day I'm going to write this letter.
[00:15:55] It's grief as such a long process. It is.
[00:15:58] Helen Garcia: And it never stops. I think, I think it's just, usually, it's just like a cycle that continues to go on. Yeah, thanks for sharing that. I feel like it takes a really special person to open up about their story and to be able to, to really go there. So I was thinking about this while you were saying that story of the road to becoming a therapist.
[00:16:21] Isn't easy, especially with like intersecting identities like that. It's, it's not, and I feel like to, to show. Even to a podcast with like a bandaid on your left cheek and then to also like talk vulnerably. Yeah. To talk vulnerably about your [00:16:40] dad. I feel like in the work that we do, I feel like you have to be vulnerable.
[00:16:45] You have to understand yourself at such a deep level. And so walk me through it. You're 22, you write a letter to the part to the people that killed your dad and. From 22 to where you are now, how did you get to a place where you said, I want to help other people get the same freedom that I got?
[00:17:06] Jeff Yeom: Wow. You came prepared with lots of great questions.
[00:17:09] No. Good on you. So I, so I wrote a letter to just the suspect who had shot my bad And how I got there from working at Lula and listen to podcasts. So for awhile, I was definitely wrestling with what is it that I want to do with my life? I don't think there was a direct correlation as to, oh, I've gone through this and now I want to be able to help people.
[00:17:44] I much like many people in their early twenties. I was just trying to figure out what am I supposed to do with my life. I had gone through some big traumas and I don't really know what to do. Like some of my friends already knew what they wanted to do, and they just went off into the business world or whatever.
[00:18:03] And I was still just left. Wondering what do I do? And I, I called up my high school guidance counselor. And I still am friends with him today. He's I met up with them after 15 years. So several months ago, and I started crying because just the nostalgia of his hug and his, like, it sounds weird, but whatever, it's only weird if you make it weird.
[00:18:28] His scent, I still remember it from high school and just this sheer comfort and I just started crying. I was like, I really missed. He's like, you know, you're one of the ones students that I still stay in contact with them. But I thought back to him and I asked him, Hey, what do you think about going to psychology?
[00:18:46] No, I'm looking at MFT or social work. He's like, those are great pathways. You can still be a high school counselor. If you've wanted to just know that there are maybe as one other certification or credential, I was like, okay. Asked around and people had told me, Hey, like you have a very comforting presence.
[00:19:05] Your voice is really soothing. I was like, okay, okay. Shut up, whatever. And then I started to think back to all the people that I interacted with. And it was very much like a therapist in a chair type situation, like older elders talking about spirituality and prayer or talking to high school kids. How one of them was adopted and just found out before going to college.
[00:19:28] I'm like, what the heck? Or coaching high school girls and boys tennis, where I was just a really calming presence for them to call them out when they are being negative on themselves or when they're going through drama. I just wanted to remind you that you're awesome. And that you don't have to like go through with a nose job or have to change yourself to be, I just, that was very, that was something that I was really good at.
[00:19:56] And so I was like, okay, let's look into therapy, mental or marriage and family therapy or social work. Funny story. I was going to apply to both and then I forgot the deadline for the sauce. And so I was like, well, okay, I guess I'm going with, so that's how we got here. Honestly.
[00:20:22] Helen Garcia: That's so awesome. I, I didn't know that MFT existed until I started grad school.
[00:20:27] To be honest with you. It was what I knew about social work, which is interesting because there's different paths to becoming a therapist. You can either get a PhD and then realize you want to be a therapist, or you can, you can go your route society, MFT, P H, D there's different paths. But I feel like it's just what comes to you in the moment and how did you get to a place where you kind of just like, got into private practice?
[00:20:55] Cause you mentioned before that you wanted to be a high school counselor.
[00:20:59] Jeff Yeom: Okay. Yeah. So that is still something that I would like to do. I've even had thoughts about what would it be like to do maybe private practice during the day and early or late afternoon, and then go coach tennis afterwards? So I still would like to do that.
[00:21:15] But I was working, my internship was at a community mental health and it felt more like a private practice. Where there wasn't a whole lot of pressure. We still have to turn in our notes, you know, in a certain amount of time, but it felt comfortable for me to set my own schedule. And I also know that I don't like to feel rushed with diagnosis.
[00:21:39] I want to be very conscientious of the client's full story before I make a judgment like that. That's how I see it. How do you know somebody in one session before you write a diagnosis? I just don't think that's fair. I don't think it's culturally sensitive. And how can you be that aware after one session?
[00:22:02] So, and I've just heard horror stories about government mental health, where they're just like so many clients on you per week, and you're have to turn in your notes right away. Oh, my gosh, I don't, that wouldn't serve me well. There are probably maybe more other more fitting therapists who can do that respect.
[00:22:25] But that's just not me. I like to take my time in therapy. So for those of you are who are wondering, and for yourself, I took the longest track possible to complete my grad school because I wanted to work and not pay. I worked and like they covered tuition. And then I took a year off because my mentors said, Hey, we think you're a great therapist, but we feel that you are going to burn out if you go in right away.
[00:22:52] Oh man. I went to Korea. I went to Korea. I, sorry, go ahead. So it took me some times to finally quit my job and I was working at Azusa Pacific university. And long story short, there was a, it was a complicated relationship and it was the end of my grad school science that, you know what, this is the best time for me to leave.
[00:23:20] And I had decided, you know what, I think it's my time to do what I need to do. Forget everyone else's expectations of me. So I quit and I gave him my comfort. Everyone's like Jeff, so type, Hey, what is he doing? He doesn't do stuff without a plan. And I said, I'm going to go live in Korea for at least a year.
[00:23:43] So I got my long-term visa. I got everything ready and I left and I said, all right, friends, I'll see you when I see you. And I wanted to go because of the internalized racism that I had experienced. And I said, this is not a. I'm going to Korea to immerse myself fully and try to make friends, try to speak my native tongue and figure out all the government documents and just see how it goes.
[00:24:14] And eventually I wasn't able to find a job. And so I said, unfortunately, okay, let's go back and let's try again another time. So I was there for just over four months. What I was expecting, I did work for a little bit, but it wasn't long-term and I tried to teach English, but at the time everything was remote.
[00:24:36] So I would still be home and not interacting with people. And so I said, all right, let's just go back for now. So I applied,
[00:24:47] Helen Garcia: I applied to yellow chair and that's what
[00:24:50] Jeff Yeom: I did. Yeah. Yeah. I do. I would love to go back. I still feel like there's business unsettled or unfinished, [00:25:00] so I will be planning on going back.
[00:25:03] Helen Garcia: pretty awesome. Your story is interesting.
[00:25:06] Jeff Yeom: There's a lot of ups and downs but that's the beautiful messiness of the human story.
[00:25:15] Yeah. And then for anyone listening to the podcast, my friend told me, look, you can always make money. You can always get a job, but you can never get time back. So don't regret not doing something that you've always thought about.
[00:25:29] So I, I think my friends for really pushing me and encouraging me to search for that part of me I give him a lot of credit for investing in me that way.
[00:25:43] Helen Garcia: There are a lot of themes in your life. One of them being like you kind of finding yourself and finding who you are, do you think you would have gotten to where you are if your dad didn't die at when you were 15, 16?
[00:25:58] Jeff Yeom: Great question again. I've thought about this and I don't think I would have left Oregon. I think. I don't. Yeah. Maybe I would still be living this life of, you know, on the weekends going to a Korean church and interacting with Korean people. But then on the weekends I'm like, okay, I still don't enjoy being Korean.
[00:26:22] But I think that was just one of those, again, I wouldn't say this stuff was planned or ordained by a higher power. Sometimes life is just really sucky and people get caught up in sucky situations and we make the decisions based upon what our needs are and what our circumstances are. But man, I don't, I don't think I would be who I am if I didn't go through.
[00:26:50] And I went through and I w I don't think I, I don't, I won't take it back, even though I did lose somebody in the process.
[00:26:59] Helen Garcia: How do you deal with the grief process, like for people listening and, and can relate to your story of like a parent dying so young, what advice would you give to your younger self?
[00:27:09] Jeff Yeom: Oh, feel how you want to feel?
[00:27:14] My culture told me to not cry and to be stoic, but I cried anyways. In fact I'm very highly sensitive and so. Yeah, I, I have to feel how I'm feeling. And I had to be very vulnerable to get the support that I needed. For a lot of Asian Americans and maybe Asian immigrants, we were taught to not show our emotions because then we will be a social liability or that we will be losing phase and allowing, or making other people lose face because then they have to go through the burden of caring for you.
[00:27:50] And. I realized the squeaky wheel gets the grease, you know, and I don't, I don't mean that in a disrespectful way. I don't. I think if I wasn't as highly sensitive, I was, I wouldn't have went to my teachers and said, I need help. I wouldn't have went to my guidance counselor and said, I'm struggling. And my guidance counselor said that he gathered all my teachers and he said, look, Jeff is struggling.
[00:28:17] This is what has happened. We need to support. So all the teachers like, yeah, if you need extension or anything like that, please let us know if she needs to drop this class. Please let me know. And so man asking for help is a huge thing. Please don't think that you're a burden to anybody. We all need help.
[00:28:36] It's just a matter of like, you can't assume somebody's gonna know that we need help. Cause, that's just mind reading and nobody can do that. But also people are willing to be there for you. You got to reach out and know that grief does take a while. I'm at a point where I can sometimes make jokes about it.
[00:28:54] Holidays are not easy. I'm reminded of what people don't have. And social media is just another smack in the face reminder that I've lost somebody very important. So surround yourself around good people who are willing to listen. That might be hard to come by, but please don't withhold yourself from building community.
[00:29:16] Like, I think that's the biggest thing that I can share.
[00:29:20] Helen Garcia: You are the example of somebody who is just like, not willing to quit, but also, like, I think that one of the biggest misconceptions about therapists. Is that we're stoic people who can't show emotion. It's very much like the psychodynamic, like white therapists that's being shown on TV.
[00:29:39] But I think one of the most underrepresented examples are people who have done the work themselves and have also gone through their own like internal racism, because that's real, I've gone through that too. And it's hard. Like it's hard because. Why am I always the other in the room? Like, I know how I come off.
[00:30:00] I know how I'm presented, but one of the things that I don't want people to miss who are listening right now is that Jeff just admitted that he's a highly sensitive person. And he saw that as a strength, you know? And like, what was your journey to that, Jeff, of knowing that you were highly sensitive and you couldn't conform to what your culture told you that you had to be?
[00:30:22] Jeff Yeom: It was so hard. Korean Korean males, at least the ones that I've encountered. So don't cancel me. If I say something, I just, haven't seen very many Korean males like me who are highly sensitive. Like for me in the evening times, sensory is really loud like music. When people are talking, it's really loud for me.
[00:30:47] I love Disneyland, but I'm so exhausted when I come back because I'm taking in people's faces. I remember what they went. Like eight hours later. I'm like, Hey, we pass that person by that ride. And my friends, like I never pay attention to that. How do you do that? I'm like, I don't know. I don't know. My brain is tired all the time.
[00:31:08] Being surrounded by a lot of Asian males when I was younger was really hard because I remember sobbing at my uncle's funeral, but every other male. Stone face. And I was like, a man just died. What the heck is wrong with you? And they're telling me, wipe your tears, boys. Don't cry. And I'm like, I'm going to cry anyways.
[00:31:32] That's where my, I think I said that when I was nine years old, I'm going to cry anyways. And I left the, the limo behind the hearse and I just started wailing. I don't know, I feel so deeply and it's sucks. I wish I could get rid of it sometimes, but like even sensory, like if I'm going through a really painful, emotional experience, my palms hurt.
[00:31:57] So I have to like clench my finger down on my Palm. At first I was like, why am I so sensitive? But then again, this is why you need good friends. Like, again, my friends are very. Next black, Asian, white. And they've just reminded me. Look, we love you for who you are. Don't stop because you've challenged our guy friend group that we need to tap into this more.
[00:32:26] I always felt like the thumb of our friend group, it's different from all the other ones. And all my friends are like, guys, guys, they don't show their emotions as much. And so I was like, ah, I feel like. I don't want to gender stereotype here, so I'll be sensitive to that. But I was like, I don't feel like a man sometimes.
[00:32:46] And again, my friends are like, dude, you're fine. You are perfect the way you are. And that's why we love you. It's just, you have to be more comfortable with who you are. And I've had to come to terms with that on my own. And it took years, but it's helped me in a lot of ways. So. Good friends, a lot of realities facing now, and maybe a little bit of courage to go against the grain of what your culture and ethnicity sense
[00:33:19] Helen Garcia: [00:33:20] Talking to you is so.
[00:33:22] Because I relate to you in a really visceral level. It was the opposite for me. So the women in my family were really strong. We had to be, cause my grandpa died when I was four and then my dad so my parents immigrated here, but my mom was the first to get a job. She worked around three to four jobs until I was around like 11 or 12.
[00:33:44] And she would like have to drive home exhausted, but she would have to do it the next day. And growing up, my mom was like, you have to have your own job. You have to be strong. And I, I was exactly like you growing up where instead of knowing what was going on, I would just get angry of like, oh, I can't be sad.
[00:34:05] I can't show emotion. So I struggled so much with like depression and self harm growing up because I didn't understand. And it wasn't until I started therapy at like eight from 18. And I still go to therapy. I've had the same therapist for like four years.
[00:34:18] Jeff Yeom: Five years. Yes. Therapists have their own therapist,
[00:34:23] Helen Garcia: therapists have their own therapist. And it doesn't mean that we're weak. It means that we're brave enough to seek help ourselves. And that's why we're so effective at our jobs. You know? And I remember like even last night I was like crying. Cause I w I was exhausted.
[00:34:39] You know, you go a whole day spending time with like the same people. And every, every little comment is like, you feel the person's emotion. Have you ever felt that way of like, you understand that, that that was more of a job than it was a, like a word of praise and you're like, oh, I know where that's coming from.
[00:34:59] But if I have this conversation with them, I know they're going to act like this. And if they act like this, then you play it out in your head. Yeah. How do you deal with that?
[00:35:10] Jeff Yeom: Oh, my gosh. When you say that, it reminds me of like conversations with family members. Okay. So the, this took a lot of inner healing where my therapist helped me realize that my inner child was still needing his needs met.
[00:35:30] And again, my friends and my therapist, we talked. Okay. We came to the conclusion that our parents are probably not going to go to therapy. And it's up to us to realize that we have to self-soothe even though, and reconciling the fact that we didn't get the needs met from our parents in the way that we needed.
[00:35:55] And it's, I mean, it's really up to me, at least in my family to bridge that gap. If my mom says something that triggers me in a certain way, I have to regulate because she doesn't know the extent of what she said or that how I'm interpreting that. And so I've had to tell myself, look, mom is coming from probably a survival place, so just remind her everything's going to be okay.
[00:36:24] And then you don't get mad at her for looking out for her needs. That's what we have to do or else we're just going to be yelling at each other and then we might hate each other and not talk to me. And then she's probably left. Wondering what did I do?
[00:36:38] Helen Garcia: Yeah. I love what you said of like, you have to understand that people don't have the same amount of self-awareness that you do. And so knowing that unfortunately you have to self-sooth because you can't expect people to care for you in the way that you. Wish that you needed, especially in the culture that we grew up in.
[00:36:58] It's like parents, it's not normal for them to go to therapy. Unfortunately.
[00:37:04] Jeff Yeom: Yeah. I see a lot of Asian and Asian-American clients and every single one of them, I'm thinking just to make sure I don't leave out anybody. Every single.
[00:37:17] Have not received the emotional support that they needed growing up. And the common theme is that all their parents came from a very survival mentality household where they didn't have time for that. And this goes with a lot of. Clients too, like I have not worked with black clients, but in the same regard, I've talked to black families and they're like, Jeff, we don't seek out therapy because one people won't understand like our oppression and our like story of slavery.
[00:37:54] And until people understand that it's going to be really hard for us to go to therapy. I respect that 100%. Thank you for being so honest, because I want it to present like a anxiety cycle to them, just to see what their feedback was. And it's not the same experience, but similar outcome where we don't seek out therapy because we don't have time to deal with it.
[00:38:24] It's all we're just trying to survive.
[00:38:26] Helen Garcia: It is tough. It is tough, but I think that you're talking about. Cultural experience that's not discussed. And I just, I want to acknowledge you for a second because you're so aware of the social justice piece. And I think that it's, it's the type of scope and lens that I was taught. I went to CSUN for grad school and I'm really proud that I went there because there's a specific like lens and scope of like Asian American, Latin X, black experience, indigenous experiences.
[00:38:58] Aren't discussed and you're right. A lot of, a lot of people who grew up in like minority backgrounds, you just had to survive and you didn't have time to reach a level of emotional health. And so, you know, this podcast serves therapists and people who don't want to burn out. And so like, what would your advice be for people who are listening now?
[00:39:19] Who, who say like, oh my gosh, Jess, Incredible because he's done his own work with that. No, I'm serious. I'm serious. I will. I know me either. It's, it's a work in progress. It's a work in progress, but. I know that this is the feedback that I will be getting as someone who's presenting this episode. And I also know that for listeners, like people want the same level of self-awareness that you have.
[00:39:48] And so two part question, how do you, how do you begin to understand your client's cultural experience? How do you stay sensitive to their culture experience and how do you begin to do that? Internal work as a therapist? So those two.
[00:40:03] Jeff Yeom: Okay. So it was, how do I become aware of my client's cultural experiences be culturally sensitive and do that for myself.
[00:40:15] Okay. You might have to remind me of the questions when I get through. Okay. So the first thing that I have to remind myself is that everybody's story is different. Even if. I'm east Asian and somebody else's east Asian. We don't know the plots and twists and the characters that I've entered into our stories.
[00:40:36] Just because we've gone through a lack of emotional support doesn't mean the outcomes, the thing this is something that I don't, maybe a lot of grad schools can improve on as being culturally sensitive, competent. And if you don't know. Do the work to know? I, I just ask questions like, Hey, or I don't make assumptions.
[00:40:58] Hey, this is something that I've gone through myself. So a little bit of self-disclosure for the sake of improving the therapeutic rapport and also like helping them grasp so that they can add onto it. But sometimes I will share my experience and they're like, oh yeah, I relate to that. Or. I will ask questions about their family dynamic.
[00:41:20] I have a lot next client and I said, Hey, I don't, I want to make sure that I am being sensitive to your culture and as an evaluator. So how does your family dynamic impact maybe your behaviors now? And he was like, no. [00:41:40] My grandmother raised my dad very traditionally where men can go out and women have to stay in.
[00:41:47] And for this person, they said that was a very interesting dynamic to see. And I see that playing through me now. And so that's really important to just simply ask, like, how does your. For the way that you were raised inform, you know I didn't want to go into too much details because someone's out there may recognize what's going on inside and include much.
[00:42:14] How do I be culturally sensitive? I think just to take, taking a posture to learn I know that's being tossed around a lot, but just ask questions. It's better to cover a place of curiosity than to assume. Like even between us, like, I wouldn't say, oh, you're so and so, or you gone through this, right?
[00:42:35] And it's like, well, no, but okay. But it's like, well, tell me about your experience. That's a different approach. And then how do I do that for myself? Like the self-awareness piece? Oh gosh. So I mean, I try I think going to therapy honestly has gotten me out of my own head to see another person's perspective.
[00:43:03] Some people may think I see a minority therapist. I see a white therapist and she's been so phenomenal to my own healing that I can't thank her enough. Like she has put aside her pride and was very humble about certain mistakes that she had made or assumptions, and that made the relationship that much more stronger.
[00:43:30] So I'm not here to say that. Certain groups where people need to learn and whatnot. I think we all can learn which is why I don't want to become an oppressed to an oppressor. I think that's such a big deal is like my therapist set that example for me. And like, I think my white teachers and my white counselors.
[00:43:59] Recognizing me and asking me, what is it that you need? Because I think a lot of minority clients haven't experienced that maybe, I don't know. But there are safe people out there. And so having a therapist has gotten me out of my head. She's challenged me in a lot of ways. Like, how does your trauma informed this?
[00:44:19] Where does that voice come from? And I'm like, oh my gosh, it's my family. Who's talking. Good friends again, like you don't have to have a lot of friends just find the ones that are courageous enough to call you out on your bull crap. To challenge you. If you are internally racist towards yourself, again, they're like great friends.
[00:44:41] I'm like, oh my gosh, you're right. I am doing this crap. And I need to snap out of it. Just know that we're always growing. Like there's no destination that we need to get to. Even when it's like spirituality, there's no end point. We just, in that, I think that's life and it might seem endless, but then I don't know. What would life be if we didn't have like this growing process? I don't know.
[00:45:08] I don't know.
Here are some great episodes to start with.