What impact can psychotherapy have on the ubiquitous struggle of being human? Dr. Leanh Nguyen believes it can be a driver for change, connection, and resilience. Dr. Leanh Nguyen hosts a podcast on Voice America called “On Living: The Trauma and Beauty of Being Human” and has covered a broad range of subject matter related to psychotherapy, including immigration, individuality and perseverance. Today, she will be going over how psychotherapy is not just for those suffering from mental health issues, and how it can help us connect to one another and our humanity.
Dr. Leanh Nguyen is a psychotherapist who lives and practices in New York. However, she was born in war-torn Vietnam, escaped to Europe as a refugee of Communism, and then emigrated to the United States for her higher education. She brings to her work all that this range of life experiences have taught her, including a multi-cultural, multi-lingual sensibility. Her dedication has taken her from acute-care psychiatric wards, to community health clinics, to refugee camps and detention centers, which has provided her with a holistic and unified view of how psychotherapy can transform lives.
What is Psychotherapy?
To go into a bit more detail, let’s outline what psychotherapy is. Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods, particularly when based on regular personal interaction, to help a person change behavior and overcome problems in a desired way. Dr. Leanh Nguyen explains that psychotherapy keeps your eyes and ears open to the indomitable urge for connection, and this longing is what makes us human. For this reason, Dr. Leanh Nguyen approaches her practice with kindness, understanding, respect and faith.
The Importance of Psychotherapy
Dr. Leanh Nguyen explains that the sheer struggle of being human can be a reason to seek out help through psychotherapy. Through her experience as a patient and as a practitioner, what she believes is great about psychotherapy (in a moral and ethical sense, not in a pragmatic or utilitarian sense) is its ability to address what matters in life, more specifically, what matters in the lives of her patients. What defines ‘good’ psychotherapy is not a demonstration of clinical expertise but the ethics of curiosity, the offering of tenderness, the commitment to the struggle of being human. In her podcast, Dr. Leanh Nguyen explains that the relationship of a psychotherapist to a patient is as a guide, helping them to navigate the pitfalls of being human.
Psychotherapy is categorized as healthcare, but not everyone who seeks out these services needs to have a mental disorder. When you treat someone through the lens of a mental disorder, Dr. Leanh Nguyen believes that you reduce the person and their life, making the task narrow and deceptively simple. What gets defined as a mental disorder is what is codified in diagnostic manuals, and while it can be useful, it can also be harmful, as people often fall along a broad spectrum and cannot be categorized.
A lot of people do not seek psychotherapy because of an underlying mental illness, but in looking for support in life, loneliness, and a lack of direction. Dr. Leanh Nguyen has learned from her guests that there is much more than the baseline of being ‘okay’ and hearing their stories has showcased to her and her viewers that we are all capable of extraordinary living and loving.