Christine Luu specializes in helping those struggling with life transitions, grief, anxiety, relationship issues, and work-life balance. As an Asian American therapist, Christine enjoys serving Asian American Millennials and young adults—particularly those interested in managing their life, balancing relationships, and gaining more self-awareness and confidence.
What was one of your most challenging experiences during your training to become a therapist, how did you overcome the challenge, and what did you learn from it?
One of the most challenging parts of my training, particularly during the clinical supervision phase, was becoming more self-aware.
Prior to degree-related work and internships, I’d never received feedback about my gestures, body postures, the tone and cadence of my voice, or the connotation of some of my word choices.
Clinical supervision was instrumental in helping me become more aware of how I represented myself to clients and those I interacted with. It changed my own practice and, to this day, impacts how I speak to everyone I interact with.
What is the one thing that you have learned through your own therapy?
One thing that my own therapy has taught me is that there’s no right or wrong way to do something, as it relates to myself or other people.
This allows me to have less judgment toward others because I’ve come to learn that everyone has their own way of doing things. Everyone holds their own values, beliefs, ways to approach things and solve problems. We all have different coping mechanisms, it’s all individualistic.
So, whether it’s looking at myself or when working with a client, I experience less judgment as a result of understanding we’re all different and that’s okay.
What inspired you to choose this profession?
I always knew I wanted to help people and that I always enjoyed counseling, listening to others, and being supportive in some way.
My path toward working with young adults and professionals, in their 20s and 30s, was very organic. I enjoy supporting people of color, Asian Americans, and those struggling with life transitions, grief, loss, change; learning how to build their confidence and trust themselves more.
It’s really nice to be able to choose the people I work with, so I can ensure my strengths match up with what they need as well.
How have your personal experiences helped your work with clients?
Personally, my experiences connecting and interacting with friends, family, and others have helped me work with clients because I’ve developed better listening skills, empathy, and learning to take constructive criticism well.
Professionally, as a medical social worker for hospice and home health, or so much of my career, I’ve had a lot of experience in counseling people with grief and loss, people who have had a lot of chronic pain, family loss, and struggles related to transitions in their life; decision-making, setting goals and addressing conflict. These experiences have deepened my empathy with those I work with and have taught me to meet people emotionally where they are today.
What does a typical session with you look like?
After the initial intake session, a normal session is a combination of me asking questions about how my client wants to work, what they want to focus on, while also meeting them where they are.
Sometimes sessions are about venting frustrations, reframing thoughts, or looking at things through different perspectives. Other sessions are more about goal-setting or solutions-focused. I like to be a listening ear, hearing them, validating them, and being available and receptive to any feedback about what is or isn’t working for them.
I’m very client-centered and take a collaborative, organic approach to work with my clients in order to focus on what will help them most, each time we meet.
If you could pick one or two books that have influenced your approach to therapy, what would they be and why?
I really like the book Attached, by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. This book talks about different attachment styles like avoidant, anxious, secure, etc. I like this book because it’s helped me understand the different perspectives related to these attachment styles, which helps me better support my clients.
I also like Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. This book is about a young person who is intersexed and trying to find their way in their identity throughout their adolescence and into adulthood. I like that it portrays a vulnerable, humanistic perspective of a person who is struggling. As an LGBTQIA+ ally, I find it interesting and helpful in understanding some ways in which someone may be struggling with their identity.
Is there any example from your daily life where you practice what you preach?
Definitely! I like to practice and preach the concept of ‘starting before you’re ready.’ That is something I do within my own personal life. I don’t believe there’s ever necessarily a “right time” to start something. Or, that you’re ever truly going to feel ready so you just have to jump in and get going. That’s something I’ve come to value about myself, my willingness to take a leap of faith and jump into things before ever feeling fully ready to do so.
I also preach and practice the idea of ‘finish not perfect.’ Which is about accomplishing and doing something even if it’s not totally perfect. This of course ties into ‘start before you’re ready’ as well.
If you hadn’t become a therapist what profession would you have chosen and why?
Well, right now, on the side, I do have a ceramics business. I’m a ceramist in my free time! But, if I’m not doing therapy and not doing ceramics and not being a dog mom my alternative profession would probably have been as a fashion designer seamstress. I really enjoy making things with my hand and seeing things come to life in a tangible way. There’s also a world where I could have gotten into UX/UI design or graphic design because those creative outlets seem very interesting to me.
Christine Luu is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Education from UCLA. She received her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California and has been a practicing therapist for eight years.