Taking the first step to seek help and get counseling is the most important and often challenging for those of us who are Asian or Asian American. Asian Americans are the least likely racial group to take actions on their mental health and are more likely to reach out to friends and family. Asian Americans are almost three times less likely than white adults to seek mental health services for unmet needs.
Allow me to speak from my personal experiences, as someone who has lived with a diagnosed mental health disorder for 22 years now (here’s my testimony), and didn’t get Christian counseling until the age of 35, delayed due to the shame and stigma that’s common in our cultural background. Here are the first steps that many Asian Americans, like myself, take to get started on the process of healing, treatment, and recovery.
Talking with a Pastor or Church Leader
People often go to their pastor or clergy first, even before a mental health professional, like a therapist or counselor; in part, because it’s free, more accessible, and available. Faith and community leaders are often the first point of contact when individuals and families face mental health problems or traumatic events. In fact, in times of crisis, many will turn to trusted leaders in their communities before they turn to mental health professionals.
This is a great start. Pastors can provide prayer support and some spiritiual counsel, and that is valuable. However, it may not be enough, depending on your symptoms and situation. Pastors sometimes are prepared to refer you to a mental health professional, then you’re good to go. But sometimes they’re not. It’s okay to get a second or third opinion.
We are multi-faceted human beings. Often the mental health challenges that we experience is more than merely a spiritual issue; it may involve other dimensions, like biological (medical or hereditary), psychological (mental & emotional), social (relational or familal), situational, trauma (abuse or harm), or other things that may have happened.
Finding an Asian Christian Counselor or Therapist
Typically, it’s most helpful to get a personal referral from your church, pastor, a caring family member or friend. But when that’s not available, for whatever reason, here are directories that can supplement your search beyond what your health insurance may cover or provide.
It’s particularly helpful to find a counselor who is Asian American, or the same ethnic background as yourself, because that would mean you spend less time explaining your experiences, and you could get quicker understanding to your specific situation.
But, sometimes it can take weeks or months to get an appointment scheduled with a mental health professional. Plus, when you’re seeking a counselor or therapist who is in-network with your health insurance provider, that can be daunting.
Christian Asian Mental Health seeks to encourage the health and well-being of everyone. We recognize there are many different denominations and theological convictions in the Christian world, with different approaches to faith, spirituality, and psychology.
Our role at Christian Asian Mental Health is to compassionately care for the dignity of the individual who is hurting and suffering, and defer the doctrinal matters to ecclesial bodies. Just as pharmaceutical medications are helpful to many, but have side effects that are harmful to some, in the same way, faith is helpful to many, but could be harmful to some when malpracticed.
To help people who are seeking help from mental health professionals, allow me to freely share this listing of directories for Christian Asian therapists and counselors, as well as lists of Asian American counselors and therapists without a faith background specified. (note: this list a reference to help you get started; it is not vetted, nor does an inclusion mean an endorsement or recommendation.)
Directories of Asian American Christian Counselors
CAMH’s Directory Listing of Asian American Counselors and Therapists
Korean American Christian counselors directory (Mustard Seed Generation, in English and Korean 한국어)
Asian American Christian Therapists in Southern California – former AACCS staff and other Christian therapists, psychiatrists, and agencies
a short list of Christian counselors in California (multiasian.church)
Lighthouse Counseling Network—accessible Christian counseling services to the greater Northern New Jersey area
progressive Asian American Christian therapists (crowdsourced, queer-affirming)
Christian counseling services with Asian American therapists
- Lifeologie Institute https://wefixbrains.com (locations in multiple states)
- Oak & Stone Therapy https://www.oakandstonetherapy.com (Los Angeles)
- Fully Health Clinic https://www.fullyhealth.org (Orange County & Los Angeles County, California)
- Feeling Good Whole Health https://www.fgwholehealth.com (Fremont, CA)
- Align Psychology https://www.alignpsych.com
- Asian Christian Counseling & Educational Seminar Services http://asianchristiancounseling.org (Atlanta)
Directories of Asian American Counselors and Therapists
Asian American Therapist Directory in US and Canada (Asian Mental Health Collective) ~ with over 1,600 entries
Asians for Mental Health Directory ~ with over 250 entries
Find an Asian Therapist (Psychology Today) ~ use the search filter to select Christian faith
AAPA Provider Directory (Asian American Psychological Association)
Mental Health Provider Directory (SAMHIN—South Asian Mental Health Initiative & Network)
Bridges Clinician Directory features NYC-based mental health professionals for Asian Pacific Islander South Asian Americans
Asian Mental Health Directory for the New York City area (Asian American Foundation)
AAPI therapists in Chicagoland (CAATCH—Community of Asian American Therapists in Chicagoland)
Directory of South Asian Therapists from around the world (southasiantherapists.org)
TIP: Also, you can use PsychologyToday.com’s Find a Therapist to filter for “Asian” and “Christian” plus “Language” that could fit your needs
Making Mental Health More Available and Affordable for Asian Americans
CAMH recognizes that professional mental health services are expensive and not readily accessible, affordable, or available to everyone. And that’s why we exist, to collaborate with churches, nonprofit ministries, and mental health professionals to develop a customized circle of care at Asian and Asian American churches.
There are many things that a local church can provide to compassionate care and support the healing and recovery of people who are struggling with mental health challenges. Encourage your church leader to contact CAMH so we can partner together and advance mental health in your community.
Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash