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Huilin Lai, LCSW-R,CST

She/ Her

Founder & Executive Director

Tier IV Therapist/Coach

With a deep passion for psychology, I embarked on a transformative journey from China to the US, where I enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. Fast forward over a decade, and I have devoted myself to empowering and supporting the Asian mental health communities. As an experienced therapist with expertise in cross-cultural issues, Asian sexuality, and complex traumas, I hold a license as an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), allowing me to practice psychotherapy in New York, New Jersey, California, Florida and Vermont. Additionally, I am recognized as an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist (CST) and an EMDRIA certified EMDR therapist. Furthermore, I am a licensed psychotherapist in China, enabling me to provide therapeutic services across different cultural contexts.

 

With over ten years of clinical experience, I firmly believe in the significance of the therapeutic relationship and the importance of honing professional skills. I have unwavering faith in the potential and strength of each individual, and through counseling, my goal is to assist clients in discovering their own ability and motivation to overcome challenges. Ultimately, my aim is to empower them to share the power of healing with others in need. In my practice, I integrate evidence-based interventions that have been proven effective in clinical settings. I strive to translate complex psychological theories into everyday language or warm and humorous stories, enabling clients to engage with their bodies, absorb, and internalize the concepts on a deeper level.

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My goal is to assist clients in discovering their own ability and motivation to overcome challenges.

My Story

Beyond my primary role as a therapist, I am deeply involved in education, research, and community outreach. My commitment to fostering understanding and healing has led me to facilitate numerous psycho-educational workshops and therapeutic groups, focusing on relationships, sexuality education, and trauma healing, across a variety of clinical and community settings. As a field instructor at New York University, I mentor master-level social work and mental health counseling students, guiding them through their clinical practice. In founding Ally Counseling and Therapy, I not only supervise emerging therapists but also provide consultations to experienced psychotherapists, aiming to create an inclusive environment for individuals of all backgrounds.

 

A significant personal and professional milestone for me in 2024 has been embracing motherhood. This new chapter has reintroduced me to the essence of being a humble learner, despite nearly two decades of experience in psychology and psychotherapy. The arrival of this little, nonverbal being has challenged me in unprecedented ways, pushing me into a realm of confusion, guilt, and physical exhaustion, all while trying to be present for this new life. Venturing into this daunting, yet supposedly beautiful journey, which I am still learning to see as such, has been incredibly humbling. It has enriched my understanding of my clients' experiences in a deeply intimate and relational manner. Often, we encourage our clients to bravely explore unknown and frightening aspects of their lives with the promise of eventual beauty, a perspective they might not yet share. Recognizing the enormity of what we ask from them has been a profound realization, grounded in my own journey into motherhood. This personal growth has not only challenged me but also deepened my empathy and connection with those I aim to support, reminding me of the courage it takes to face the unknown and the transformative power of embracing every step of the journey.

Therapeutic Approaches 

My personal approach is warm, flexible and interactive. I also bring my multicultural perspectives into work. I have expertise in several therapeutic approaches and can work flexibly with you to figure out what works best. Some of the specific scientifically supported treatments in which I have expertise include: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, Sex therapy, Sexuality education, Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP), Internal Family System (IFS), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Attachment Based, Solution Focused, Mindfulness based, Psychoeducational, Life Coaching, Couples therapy, Family System and Spirituality.

Specialties

Developmental Trauma

Navigating through the hardships of developmental trauma together, we delve into the complexities of family abuse, emotional neglect, significant losses, and the unique pressures within LGBTQIA+ communities and society at large. These experiences, often leading to feelings of inferiority and unworthiness, impact not just our relationships and self-esteem but also our professional journeys. Our therapeutic journey is centered on overcoming the profound sense of "aloneness" that accompanies such trauma. By collaboratively addressing and healing from these deep-seated wounds, we aim to rediscover and learn the life lessons missed during childhood, enhancing both emotional and physical well-being. This process is about reconnecting with yourself and others, bolstering a renewed sense of self-belief and inner strength.

 

Emotional Disturbance

In the realm of emotional disturbances, we understand that symptoms like anxiety, depression, and procrastination are often the smoke rather than the fire itself. Together, in a nurturing environment, we'll explore these emotional signals, recognizing them as attempts at self-protection, albeit painful ones. By differentiating these emotions from their root causes with empathy and compassion, we embark on a journey toward emotional mastery. This path fosters a deep, meaningful connection with your emotions, empowering you to navigate and utilize them with greater effectiveness and self-awareness.

 

Personal Growth

Your personal growth journey is a collaborative exploration of your deepest values, self-esteem, and confidence, as well as your sexual orientation, gender identity, and cross-cultural experiences. Together, we'll set meaningful goals to steer through these challenges, supporting your evolution into the person you're meant to be. This journey is about harnessing courage, insight, and perseverance to discover and pursue your goals, overcome obstacles, and flourish into your ideal self.

 

Sex Therapy

 

In addressing sexual concerns and dissatisfaction through sex therapy, we take a specialized, psychotherapeutic approach that is unique to sexual well-being. Understanding that sexual issues rarely resolve on their own or within the confines of a healthy relationship, we delve into each individual's comprehensive biopsychosocial and sexual background. From addressing maladaptive sexual beliefs and behaviors to enhancing communication about sex, exploring sexual orientation and gender identity, and navigating open relationships and sexual trauma, our sessions are safe, supportive, and growth-oriented, all while maintaining professional boundaries.

 

Support for Cancer and Other Illnesses

Facing a diagnosis of cancer or another serious illness brings a torrent of fear, grief, and uncertainty, alongside the overwhelming nature of treatments and medical terms. This journey can disrupt life's rhythm, creating financial and emotional strain. Yet, even beyond treatment, the challenge of returning to "normal" can feel isolating. In our sessions, we offer support to embrace life's vulnerabilities and crises, transforming a diagnosis into a chance for self-reflection, personal exploration, and growth. This process is about living in the present, releasing past regrets, and facing the future with peace, joy, and clarity, finding tranquility and fulfillment amidst adversity.

Credentials 

  • Degree: University of Pittsburgh/Master of Social Work

  • License: New York State/LCSW-R081942

  • License: New Jersey State/LCSW-44SC06116900

  • License: California State/LCSW-120134

  • Registration: Florida Out of State Telehealth Provider

  • Registration: Vermont Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker - Interim Telehealth Registration

  • Certificate: University of Michigan / Sex Therapy and Sexuality Education

  • Certificate: The EMDR International Association/Certified EMDR Therapist

  • ​Certificate: American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) /Certified Sex Therapist

  • Certificate: New York Milton H. Erikson Society for Psychotherapy and Hypnosis (NYSEPH)/ Clinical Ericksonian Hypnosis​

  • Certificate: School of Social Work at New York University/SIFI Certified Field Instructor 

  • Advanced Training: Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy ( AEDP)  Immersion Course

  • Advanced Training: Internal Family System (IFS) Circle 

  • Advanced Training: At the Crossroads of Trauma Therapy: Integrating EMDR, Structural Dissociation, Attachment Repair and Parts Work with Rachel Walker

  • Advanced EMDR Training: The EMDR Toolbox: AIP Methods for Treating Complex PTSD & Dissociative Personality Structure with Jim Snipe

  • Advanced EMDR Training: Healing the Heart of Complex Trauma and Dissociation with EMDR and Ego State Therapy with Carol Forgash 

  • Advanced EMDR Training: EMDR Training for Real-World Challenges with Deany Laliotis

  • Advanced EMDR Training: At War with Food: Trauma-Informed Clinical Skills for Treating the Spectrum of Eating Disorders with Andrew Seubert & Pam Virdi

  • Advanced EMDR Training: Dissociation Made Simple: An Inside Look for EMDR & Trauma Therapist with Jamie Marich

  • Advanced EMDR Training: The Soul of Dissociation with Amy Wagner

  • Advanced EMDR Training: Healing the Wounds of Attachment and Rebuilding Self with Deany Laliotis

  • Advanced EMDR Training: The Craft of EMDR Therapy: Taking it to the Next Level with Deany Laliotis

  • Advanced EMDR Training: The Dance of Attachment:An Advanced EMDR Clinical Course with Deany Laliotis

More About Me

Interesting Q & A with clients and supervisees over the years

 

Q: Why do you become a therapist?

A: "Well, when I was a kid, I had this intense curiosity about the human mind. I even considered becoming a spy, but secret service training wasn't readily available, so I settled for psychology instead. Turns out, being a therapist is just as rewarding!"


Q: What do you think about the diagnosis?
A:  " It doesn't matter. You matter more, You Are More Than Your Diagnosis. Diagnosis only matters to insurance companies! No matter whether you’ve been given a diagnosis and regardless of what you’ve been diagnosed with, to me, you are much more than your diagnosis. I’m not interested in labeling you, and I would encourage you to begin seeing yourself beyond any labels too "


Q: Do therapists just sit there and nod?
A: "Haha! Well, yes, I do sit and listen, but I promise it's with genuine interest. I'm not just a 'nodding robot.' I actively participate in our work together. So, no worries, it won't feel like you're talking to a programmed professional."


Q: Is hypnotherapy the same as mindfulness? I'm a newbie
A:  That's a really good question. Hypnotherapy and mindfulness are both incredibly therapeutic and helpful in their own ways. Mindfulness, as described by Kabat-Zinn, involves paying attention in a particular way, with no specific goal in mind, fully present in the moment, and without judgment. It teaches you to slow down and engage with your experiences, fostering a sense of stillness and clarity that is vital for healing and problem-solving. Mindfulness is all about being present and not actively trying to change anything.

 

On the other hand, hypnotherapy is a similar experiential process but doesn't necessarily focus on the present moment. It can be more goal-oriented and directed toward specific outcomes. In hypnotherapy, I often guide clients to explore their past experiences by metaphorically traveling through time or even to a different imaginative realm. It involves being receptive to suggestions, which allows us to work towards specific goals and desired behaviors. So while there are similarities between hypnotherapy and mindfulness, they have distinct approaches and purposes.


Q: What about homework?
A: Yes, I firmly believe that doing work outside of therapy will help you to build up emotional wellness muscles, expand your comfort zone, and solidify the gains made during our sessions together. Of course, with permission from every single part of you, you may leave therapy sessions with a homework assignment(s) tailored to you based on the great work you’ve done. You might be asked to work on self-care, connect with more supportive beings or tighten up your social circles to allow more time and space for yourself, reinforce an old skill, experiment with something new, write a poem, take a cooking lesson, etc…

Q: What is the most important part of being a therapist and coach?

A: "Humility. I really appreciate the diversity of my clients.  They are my best teachers. "


Q: What will you do when you retire?

A:  "Ah, retirement dreams! Well, I've always had a fascination with farming. So, I've been toying with the idea of purchasing a therapeutic farm. Imagine using it for farming, as a therapeutic retreat, and even for animal rescue. The possibilities are endless!"

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