Alumni Spotlight: Karin Chuang, MA
April 12, 2010
In the mid 1980s when I was getting my undergraduate degree, I would have never guessed that I would end up 20 years later as a Therapist with a private practice. My route has been somewhat circuitous but at the same time has given me skills, experience and sensitivities that greatly contribute to my abilities as a therapist. I received a BS in Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University in 1988 which led me to six very satisfying years in Planning, Finance and Marketing at Intel Corporation. I began at Intel in Santa Clara, CA where I met my husband. In 1994 we moved to Munich Germany to work for Intel. To say that living and working in a foreign country is an amazing eye-opening experience is an understatement. I encourage anyone to work abroad who has an opportunity to do so.
Having children has a way of profoundly changing one’s life and I am no exception. Our first son was born in Munich and I went on a 3 year unpaid maternity leave from Intel. I was very fulfilled as a stay-at-home mom, and four years later our 3rd child was born. We had moved to Oregon and I was ready to officially resign from my Intel career. I knew that when I went back to work it would be in a field that was personally fulfilling while enabling me to have time for my family.
When I entered the Master’s degree program at Lewis & Clark (2001), I was a newly divorced woman with 3 children at home (ages 2, 3 and 5). I appreciated the diversity in age and experience of the graduate students at Lewis & Clark, and I quickly discovered that other students, like me, were seeking a second career. I have maintained many of those relationships, some professional and some personal. The bonds created at Lewis & Clark are as strong as ever.
I strongly felt the benefits of my years at Intel, my time living abroad and my experiences as a mother to my education in Counseling Psychology at Lewis & Clark. My maturity, my world view, and my perspective on people and the struggles they face were richer and deeper than they would have been without those experiences. I bring that experience to my practice today and it serves as a bridge to the struggles of many of my clients, whether it is with couples who work in the corporate world, people going through the difficult process of divorce, or individuals from other countries who struggle to live in a culture different than their own.
Following graduation from Lewis & Clark I began my private practice working as a therapist with individual adults and couples. My years in the business world served me well in setting up my practice, both as a business and as a place where I can help people. My practice has been consistently a part-time practice. I had originally envisioned a full-time practice, but I haven’t yet attained that level.
Like all therapists, I have discovered many things about myself in the years that I have been practicing. I have tried on different theoretical hats in these years trying to find the ones that best suits me and my clients. My counseling style has evolved into one which is very interactive and engaging. I am naturally energetic, and find that I work best when I am able to be that way with my clients as well. I have also discovered that I enjoy teaching my clients too. That shows up in the form of psycho-education and skill building which has been well received by my clients. I have learned that my style involves combining being present, authentic and empathic, with the added value of some teaching and coaching. This balance allows me to draw upon my analytic and goal-oriented skills while being present with my clients in a non-judging, nurturing way. Of course I am always on the lookout for any style or theory that resonates with me and I incorporate aspects of different theories wherever they fit. This integrated approach fits my personality and allows me to help my clients in the best way I can.
As I continue raise my children and build my practice, my world view continually expands and deepens, offering me new insights. I am blessed to have had so many rich life experiences.
Karin Chuang Counseling, 503-290-8975, 3033 SW 1st Avenue, Portland, OR 97201