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Sapphire (YuehChun) Chao, LCAT, ATR-BC

She / Her

Tier III Therapist 

Life is a journey, a continuous process. Some processes can be difficult to deal with. Maybe it is a struggle with a relationship or maybe it is about a life transition. We may feel confused, anxious, stuck, or even have difficulty breathing. Allowing someone to support this challenging process can be a great relief and insightful. 

 

Partnering with me, we can gain better insight into your feelings, emotions, and thoughts and how you adapted them to your roles in relationships and to your perspectives on your surroundings. When we have unprocessed feelings and emotions, we may experience repetitive patterns and find it difficult to pinpoint the reason. With your permission, we will pay close attention to your physical sensations, embodied emotions, and internal world. The process of feeling “feelings” sometimes can be uncomfortable. You may find it difficult to verbalize your internal world. We can use a combination of art, and creativity, and talk to work through it with new perspectives. 

 

I speak Mandarin, Taiwanese, and English.

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Partnering with me, we can gain better insight into your feelings, emotions, and thoughts and how you adapted them to your roles in relationships and to your perspectives on your surroundings.

My Story

Moving from Taiwan to the States, with many years of experience working with Asian communities, I have gained a profound understanding of the various challenges faced by international students, professionals, and first or second-generation immigrant families in the United States. These challenges encompass the hardships of language and cultural adjustment, as well as the friction experienced in cross-cultural identity. 

In addition, I regularly pursue professional development to provide more holistic support. I firmly believe that differences in race, culture, occupation, sexual orientation, and more are sources of individual uniqueness. This diversity fosters tolerance and compassion within humanity. I'm committed to respecting every person's life story, and I look forward to collaborating with you on your journey to a healthier, more meaningful life.

 

Furthermore, I am dedicated to supporting young professional growth. Currently, I am a site supervisor for art therapy interns from NYU and SVA. Additionally, I firmly believe that healing can also be integrated into our daily lives. Therefore, from time to time, I share professional knowledge and insights on my social media platforms, whether through artistic creations or written content.

Therapeutic Approaches

As an integrative therapist, I believe that establishing a strong therapeutic relationship and possessing counseling skills are equally important. Through my own journey of self-healing, I have come to deeply understand that sharing one's innermost concerns with a stranger (that's me, your therapist) can be quite a challenge. Therefore, I aim to showcase my professional skills in a warm, creative, and even playful manner. Despite being a professional counselor, I'm just someone who has a profound passion for both art and psychology, which is why I emphasize that you are the master of your own life.

I am a certified Trauma Focused -Cognitive Behavior Therapist. This approach can assist you in understanding your challenges from a trauma-informed perspective. I'll assist you in externalizing the issues, recognizing that 'I have a problem, but I am not the problem.' This helps you reframe your cognitions, skillfully address issues, and identify irrational beliefs, ultimately leading to behavioral changes. I incorporate art therapy and MBSR to convey these concepts in a more effective and creative way.

Of course, there are times when we all feel like we understand the logic, but somehow, we just can't put it into practice. In such situations, I draw on art therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and Internal Family Systems (IFS). I excel in exploring individuals from an attachment and emotion-focused perspective, gradually integrating emotions, mental and physical feelings, and spirit. From the inside out, from the individual to the broader societal and cultural context, the ultimate goal is to guide you toward self-integration.
 

Specialties

Seeing a therapist may sound intimidating, but sharing your story with a supportive professional allows your story to be heard and seen. I believe with holistic support throughout the sessions, you are able to embrace your own resilience which motivates you to take the lead in your journey.

Art Therapy

In art therapy, making pretty things is not a priority. Art therapy is more about how we use art to express ourselves and our perspectives. Art-making is a mindful and fun process in a contained space to engage in your internal world with sensations and somatic experiences. As we explore your artwork, we gain deeper insights into the story behind your art. Once we allow those discomforts to speak to us, we are able to make sense of it and eventually have compassion for ourselves. I will hold a safe space for you to trust our therapeutic alliance so you will connect your creativity and curiosity through art. 

Emotional Disturbance

Many people did not have a chance to learn how to regulate emotions effectively, often suppressing "negative emotions" like anxiety, depression, worry, anger, and jealousy. Yet, these emotions carry valuable insights; healthy anxiety can prepare us for the future, and suppressed anger serves as a self-defense mechanism in response to unfair treatment, albeit with the concern that it may harm others if unleashed. Suppressed emotions don't vanish; they manifest in our bodies, sometimes leaving us emotionally numb with physical symptoms like stomachaches or chest tightness. Over time, this suppression forms defense mechanisms like self-criticism, victimhood narratives, perfectionism, and dissociation.

I'm here to help you to understand why specific emotions surface at certain moments. For those struggling to feel emotions, art therapy provides a secure outlet, allowing the release of suppressed feelings non-verbally. By learning to acknowledge emotions and their physical cues, we naturally find ways to accept and manage them.
 

Developmental Trauma

Developmental trauma refers to the accumulation of chronic and multiple events during the growth process, such as trauma within the family, childhood trauma, long-term emotional neglect, cross-generational trauma, trauma within LGBTQIA+ communities, or social and cultural roles and expectations. Our interactions with the external world influence our self-worth. It may lead to habitual people-pleasing in relationships, unconsciously shouldering emotional burdens, or feeling the need for external validation for emotional security, or even experiencing somatic pains as Dr. Van der Kolk aptly stated, 'The body keeps the score.', or developing different Parts to respond the external threats. I will assist you in exploring internal conflicts, repairing the negative impacts of developmental trauma experiences, reorganizing cognitive patterns in the brain, and addressing emotional experiences in the body. You will learn to regulate your inner conflicts and connect with others more affirmatively and openly.

Intimate Relationships and Couples Therapy

We all have the desire to be heard and seen in our relationships. I provide individual counseling for intimate relationships and couples therapy, grounded in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). EFT integrates attachment theory, emotional regulation, and experiential approaches. If you've ever experienced a situation where a disagreement escalated into more conflicts or found yourself frequently engaged in vague arguments etc., these common patterns are well-suited for EFT. It enables us to gradually untangle these patterns, understand each other's expectations and needs in the relationship, clarify thoughts and feelings, practice enhanced communication, and ultimately work towards relationship repair or peaceful closure. I have received extensive training in NYCEFT, specializing in addressing issues within AAPI and LGBTQIA+ couples and cross-cultural relationship challenges.
 

Personal Growth

Have you ever thought about how challenging it is for an individual to grow up? During our school years, we undergo pressure to excel in academics or showcase our talents. After graduation, we start to focus on achievements while dealing with society's expectations regarding age and gender roles. Well, life can indeed be quite tough at times. But don't worry, I'll be here to accompany you through these phases of life, helping you discover your own identity and strengths. We'll work on aspects such as self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence, and even explore topics like high sensitivity (HSP), introverted personalities, gender identity, and sexual orientation. We'll tackle cross-cultural adaptation, personal stress, and adjustment, as well as career transitions. 

Credentials 

  • License: New York State / Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT) #002513

  • American Board Certified and Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC) 

  • Degree: Long Island University/Master’s in Clinical Art Therapy and Counseling

  • Degree: Taipei Municipal University of Education/Bachelor of Counseling Psychology

  • Certified Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)

  • Certificate: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

  • Certificate: Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (ICEEFT) Core Skills

  • Certificate: Parent-child Intensive Certification (Ackerman Institute for the Family)

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

  • Advanced training: Internal Family System (IFS) Circle

  • Advanced training: Integrating EMDR, Internal Family Systems and Art Therapy

  • Advanced training: Integrating Art Therapy with Psychodrama

More About Me

When I'm not in the role of a therapist...

I'm someone who enjoys continuous exploration. In the realm of art, I've spent a significant amount of time delving into pottery, ceramics, and Procreate. Lately, I've been exploring silkscreen printing. I find joy in discovering the urban culture of New York City as well as immersing myself in the embrace of nature. When I need to unwind, you can often find me at home, simply basking in the sun, reading comics, listening to indie music, or experimenting with new recipes. And I must admit, I'm a proud cat lover! Currently, I have a delightful little orange cat, and you might catch a glimpse of her during our online counseling sessions.

Why become a therapist?

Growing up, I was immersed in a world of comparisons and materialism. The constant pressure to measure up in terms of achievements, appearance, body image, and income created significant stress, leading to persistent feelings of inadequacy, especially when I felt different from my peers. From an early age,  the emotional and financial immaturity of my family members, along with their insecurities, extended into their expectations of me. I spent a considerable portion of my life striving to meet the expectations of being the 'good child' in the eyes of my elders, suppressing emotions and behaviors that didn't align with this image.

However, these experiences sparked my interest in counseling. Collaborating with individuals dealing with trauma or self-harm allowed me to deepen my understanding of emotional states like 'numbness' and 'dissociation.' I was frequently reminded that my pain was insignificant in comparison to others, which led to self-doubt. It wasn't until I ventured into the realm of art therapy that I broke through my emotional barriers in a warm and enjoyable manner, reconnecting with suppressed aspects of myself. Through these encounters, I learned to navigate my feelings. Gradually, I developed self-compassion, embracing my imperfections and adopting a more comprehensive perspective to understand both those who had caused harm and the broader societal culture.

Professional Experience

  • Clinical Supervisor for Masters Level NYU and SVA Students

  • Stuyvesant High School Contracted Therapist

  • University Settlement Early Childhood Center

  • Taichung Veteran Hospital Community Suicide Prevention 

  • Kadimah PROS Psychiatric Outpatient Program 

  • Kids Esteem Montessori School

  • Taipei LongAn Elementary School

  • Taipei Municipal Hospital Psychiatric acute unit and outpatient

  • Hulan Immigrant Community Foundation Play Therapy Support

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