Author Archives: Hailing Huang

Lack of Self-Esteem

Posted by: Hailing Huang on April 17, 2015 12:27 pm

In January 15 2015, I wrote an article: Emotional Health, reflecting on two Chinese international students who committed suicide during their second year of school.  The two students were Yuan Yuan, and Guo Yanjun. Yuan, a young woman in her early 20’s from Nangjing China, was in her second year of an economics degree at Amsterdam University. Guo, a 28 year old, who immigrated to America in 2001, graduated with an Honors BSc in 2006, worked in investment banking in New York, then registered at MIT, majoring in management – a journey much admired by many Chinese families.

Unfortunately, on January 27, 2015, another 20 year old Chinese international student named Wang Lu Chang a math major at Yale University, was successful in her suicide attempt.  These young students all exhibited excellent academic performance records, hard work, and were achievement driven; in the eyes of an outsider, they all would have a bright future. While we are sadly mourning these young lives, it also causes us to question:  What kind of pain was so heavy that it caused them to choose to end their own life?beautiful-316287_640

My previous article looked at this issue from an emotional health perspective; I thought it was the taboo of depression, suicidal thoughts and loneliness that blocked them from seeking help. It was the negative emotions that confounded their thoughts and their mobility, blocked their view to finding a way out; since most people see vulnerability as shame. Neither failure nor misfortunes are supposed to be disclosed or shared with others, even with family members.   Lacking the knowledge and skills to deal with negative emotions becomes an obstacle to reaching out and asking for help.

Then, recently, I have come to realize that there could be a deeper reason for their taking their own lives:  lack of Self – Esteem. In order to learn new knowledge and skills, they first have to believe in themselves and trust that there is a way out, and are willing to try. Without confidence and beliefs, they would not reach out. Even if the resources are there, they won’t be able to recognize and seize it.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Emotional Health and the Power of Vulnerability

Posted by: Hailing Huang on January 15, 2015 10:24 am

Reflections on the Suicides of Chinese International Students

Recently stories about two Chinese international students committing suicide circulated on Chinese We-Chat. Both students were regarded as excellent students in the eyes of their parents and the others:  they were outgoing, active in the community and academically driven.  So what led to this tragedy?    Who should take the responsibility? What are the causes?  And what can we learn from those tragic?

Such questions linger in the minds of parents, friends, teachers and many others- we want answers. Some people may blame the family’s lack of parenting education, some may blame society’s ideology around success and some may blame the victim for not being tough enough.


Case one: YuanYuan from Nangjing China, committed suicide in Feb 2009. She was a second year economics student at Amsterdam University. The three notes she left behind disclosed:  “I am so, so tired. For the last eight years I have been trying to calm down the upheaval of inner turmoil; when it hits me I felt so helpless. Sometimes I have to endure and wait for the turmoil to fade and recover slowly.  Life is so busy; I simply do not have time to deal with it anymore. I cannot sense any joy in life, and life itself has become unbearable.  I am really tired of this.”   She also disclosed that she had battled with OCD for the last eight years.

This case was brought to the limelight by Yuan Yuan’s mother. In her mother’s eyes, her daughter was very considerate, independent, warm hearted, decisive and academically driven- a person who had always presented herself as positive and cheerful. The death of her daughter devastated the mother, what had gone wrong?  As a teacher herself she asked what can be done to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

Case two: Guo Yanjun, 28,   immigrated to America in 2001, graduated with an Honors BSc in 2006, worked in investment banking in New York, then registered at MIT (麻省理工学院),majoring in management – a journey much admired by many Chinese students.
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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Increasing Marriage Success Through Education

Posted by: Hailing Huang on January 20, 2014 3:21 pm

The Future Trend: Combine Online Dating With Counselling Service

According to consumer rankings data (, 17% of couples married in the last 3 years, met each other on an online dating site. 1 out of 5 single people have dated someone they met on a dating website. More than 20 million internet users visited the matchmaking sites in December of 2011. This number is going to increase in the next 20 years.

In 1998, with the release of the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” internet dating become an accepted cultural phenomena. Though the movie didn’t focus on internet dating, it did put meeting someone on the Web in a positive light. It showed that the Web can be used as a tool for bringing people together, whether through matchmaking sites, or traditional social networks. Finding a significant other online is no longer the unusual access as it once was; it is becoming increasingly common.

After 12 years of internet-transformed dating, we would like to know more about online dating. For example: Do we know who goes on dates with whom and how these dates turn out? What is the success rate of internet marriages? Are these couples living happily ever after, or are they more likely to meet with divorce lawyers?

Martine Zwilling from  the Forbes Insititute (2013) pointed out that the success rate of online dating  is a mere one percent. However, Science Resources (2005)  indicated that internet dating is much more successful than had been thought. An online survey was carried out by Dr Gavin and Dr. Scott by the University of Bath, says that of 229 people interviewed, 90% go on for the first date, of which 94% go on for the second date.

According the Canada’s statistic data: in 2011, 46.5% of the population, age 15 and over, were legally married, while 53.6% were unmarried (never married, divorced, separated, widowed). Compare within 1981, 60.9% of the population aged 15 and over was married, while 39.1% was unmarried. Within 30 years the marriage rate decreased about 14% and each year more than 70,000 people are divorced.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Counselling Obtsacles for the Immigrant

Posted by: Hailing Huang on August 30, 2013 2:41 pm

The obstacles of receiving counselling service that many people are facing today such as high cost, long waiting list, and distant location are also the obstacles for immigrant population.  As for the immigrant population, there is another obstacle that they have to face is that  they lack of the knowledge about counselling. Most of immigrant do not receive or heard of this kind of services in the countries that they came from; counselling services are an unfamiliar term for them to grab.

During the past 30 years, counselling topics have branched out to many areas of life issues such as: parenting, communication skills, self-esteem and others. Counselling services no longer focuses on pathological issues, dysfunctional patterns, personality disorders or mood disorders, depression and anxieties. At the same time, the immigrant population does not have the same lever of understanding about counselling as North American’s populations have. 

In order to invite immigrants to receive counselling, immigrants have to be educated first.  Education also means focusing on prevention instead of intervention, with the knowledge of self care, they could integrate into local culture more smoothly with fewer struggles and become more efficient in the workforce for society.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Report Cards – To Praise or Not to Praise?

Posted by: Hailing Huang on July 9, 2013 4:05 pm

The end of June has arrived, and with it is the end of another school year; kids bring home their report cards with joy or with sorrow. Chinese parents, whether they are in China or in Canada, always seem attentive to their children’s report card.

A few days ago, I spoke with a friend in Fuzhou China, she said: “This is the last year of my son’s elementary school, even though he performed well during the whole school year, the last exam will determine which school he will go to for junior high.” The last exam means a lot for students and their parents in China. Yesterday, a local Chinese parent, asked me: “Do you mind if your daughter get Bs?”  It seems Chinese parents are always on the alert when it comes to their children’s grades.

This phenomenon reminds me of Amy Chua, the author of ‘Tiger Mom’, when she said, that she demands excellence from her daughters; she assumes the strength rather than fragility. We may not agree with Amy Chua’s harsh discipline, but the reason behind her action may ring a bell for most Chinese mothers: the common desire of having high academic expectations for their children.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Inner Journey

Posted by: Hailing Huang on June 6, 2013 3:38 pm

If the inner journey is the fundamental element of the spiritual path,  how  then  do we venture upon a path that can evoke the life force within us?  The world has dramatically changed from what it was fifty years ago, or five hundred years ago, however, the inward journey, the path toward maturity remains the same. By studying, and learning from these old wisdom teachings, we can acknowledge the paths of those heroes, the kinds of life quests they faced, how they felt when they faced these cross roads.  What was the life force that helped them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals? Acknowledging and learning from the old stories can provide us with a road map for our life journey. Embracing the greatness is the first step of the spiritual journey; in order for transformation to take place.

If we picture ourselves as a traveler, then to ensure that we reach our desired destination there are three essential tools that we need to gather together before embarking on the journey.  First, obtaining a road map; second, understanding the roadblocks and the third is finding a lodge for the traveler to rest.  A traveler of an inner journey requires these same tools.  

How do we get this map for our inner journey?  I think it can be discovered, and defined through your iconic figure. First, to identify your hero, ask yourself the question: who is my hero? Then study and clarify your hero’s journey.  Second, what are the roadblocks on the inward journey? They can be interpreted as challenges, temptations, and barriers that may cross your path. Furthermore, it should include the aids that the traveler or hero received and the resources they relied on. These challenges and barriers function like traffic signals, such as red, yellow or green lights which lead us to overcoming the barriers and to pass through the threshold of each of the psychological stages.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Spirited Child and Tiger Mother

Posted by: Hailing Huang on May 23, 2013 4:34 pm

Two years ago, Amy Chua author of” Battle Hymn of Tiger mother” stirred up a heated debate about the Eastern parenting vs the Western parenting

For immigrant parents this raises an important question that requires conscious reflection and deliberation: how do we parent? Some argue that we should not judge the different approaches, only the outcome counts. Yet as responsible parents, we do want to assess the potential outcomes of each approach. Parenting is not only an art , it is also a science.

‘Spirited Child’ is a label that Mary Kurcinka gives to the ‘difficult child’. Naming is the way we view our child, when we name them as difficult, they become a problem; while when we name them as ‘Spirited Child’, we see them as gifted. This is a strength based approach.

In her book, ‘Raising your Spirited Child’ Mary Kurchina illustrates the nine types of temperaments of a ‘spirited child’.  Through vivid examples and a refreshingly positive viewpoint, Mary Kurcinka offers parents strategies for handling their spirited child.  The description of spirited child reminded me of Amy Chua’s portrayal of her second daughter Lulu in ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’. Lulu exhibited many of the characteristics of a spirited child. For instance, she displays high levels of persistency, intensity, and perceptiveness… I wonder, if Amy Chua had understood her daughter’s temperaments from this viewpoint, would she have treated her second daughter differently, with less harshness.

As Mary said “identifying your child’s temperamental traits is like taking an X ray. It helps you to understand what is going on inside of your child so you can understand how he is reacting to the world around him and why. Once you understand the reasons behind his response, you can learn to work with them.”

Amy Chua, author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom”, is a mother of two daughters and a professor from Yale University. Although Amy Chua was born and raised in America, she insisted that she would apply a traditional Chinese parenting approach, a style which is rigid and strict.  She demanded excellence from her daughters. For instance; they could not attend a sleepover, have a play date, watch TV or play computer games, be in a school play or get any grade less than an A.

Many people have criticized Ms Chua’s dictatorship style of parenting. But Amy Chua says that was the way her parents raised her and her three sisters. And all of them felt grateful for what their parents had given them.  Her diligent and rigid approach only backfired with her second daughter Lulu. At the age of 13 Lulu’ rebelled against her mother’s demands. This took the form of shouting at her mother in public “I hate my life! I hate you!”  It was at this point that Ms Chua says she decided to retreat.

On the one hand we do  admire Amy Chua’s courageous  candor with disclosing her shadow  side of parenting,  and it is through her disclosure of ‘ dirty laundry” ,  that we are able to know and learn  about her approach and reflect on  our approach. On the other hand, from Amy Chua’s experience, we also learn that there is no universal way of parenting. One approach may work out well in one generation or with one child; it may not work out well for another child. As much as we want our children to be adaptable to the new environment, we, as parents need to be open minded and adjust our approach accordingly.

During the last thirty years, many valuable parenting books are available for today’s parents, such as John Gottman’s ‘ Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child,’ Dr Thomas Gordon, P.E.T (Parents Effective Training), John Gray’s Children Are From Heaven, Michael Popkin’s Active Parenting Today, and Mary Kurcinka ‘s Spirited Child, and many more.   We have gained more knowledge about the various behaviors, cognitive functioning, or their emotional needs of our children. Updated knowledge has helped us to better understand our children’s needs at each stage of development, and their temperaments. As today’s parents, no matter where we are from and where we are stay, we are able to be better equipped and   do not have to rigidly follow what our parents have handed down.

Rachel Remen has a wonderful saying about gardening, and  it can also apply to parenting:  ‘No master gardener every made a rose. When its needs are met a rose bush will make roses. Gardeners collaborate and provide conditions which favor this outcome. And as anyone who has ever pruned a rosebush knows, life flows through every rosebush in a slightly different way.’

Hailing Huang , MA

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Introduction of Hospice and Palliative Care

Posted by: Hailing Huang on April 5, 2013 3:54 pm

What is Hospice and Palliative Care

Now a day’s more and more people are becoming more familiar with the term Hospice and Palliative Care. Hospice and Palliative care address end of life issues by focusing on the palliation of a terminally ill patient’s symptoms. The symptoms can be physical, emotional, spiritual or social in nature. Compared with the conventional medical system, the distinguishing character of hospice and palliative care is its patient-centered care instead of provider – centered care. This patient- directed care is integral and interwoven throughout the provided care and this philosophy is also reflected on its Medicare regulations. In Canada, Hospice and Palliative Care is the nationally accepted term to describe care aimed at relieving suffering and improving quality of life.

The modern Hospice Palliative care movement traces back to the 1960’s. Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement, opened the first Hospice in United Kingdom. This initiated an alternative approach to the solely cure orientated and impersonal approach of standard health care. During the last few decades there has been a growing realization that quality of life criteria should be defined by the person with the illness. This is as important a goal as prolonging life for its own sake. The philosophies of hospice care were introduced and implemented in Canada in the 1970s: in 1975 the first hospital based palliative care units were opened in both Montreal and Winnipeg.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

A Day of Glass

Posted by: Hailing Huang on March 4, 2013 2:29 pm

Recently, a friend sent a link: A Day of Glass. It is a commercial made by Expanded Corning Vision. It illustrates the conveniences that an advanced device can bring. For example: in the bedroom, the small device- like iPod attached to the huge glass, the glass becomes a giant iPod screen; in the kitchen, washroom, even in car, the device can function as phone, iPod, GPS, camera, TV etc. So you can use it everywhere, and you can get information, or connect with anyone at a touch. The functions are endless.

I was amazed by the possibility of what technology can bring. While, in the meantime, I also question: with this device, we should be more versatile in our ability to multi task- right? Can we really do more at one time? Cooking, answering the phone, and thinking about the next meeting?

As Edward Hallowell, the attention deficit disorder expert pointed out that: ‘Crazy busy’    becomes the modern phenomenon of brain overload. We have plunged ourselves into a mad rush of activity, expecting our brains to keep track of more than they comfortably or effectively can. Nowadays, is anyone not busy? Or not feel like they’re running behind? Or the calendar is not loaded with more than they can accomplish?

Most of us often struggle to achieve a higher income, more recognition or a certain degree of professional competence. It is amazingly easy to get caught in the trap of working harder and harder to climb the ladder of success.

While we can be very busy, we can be very efficient. However, if the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, then every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster, right?
What about creativity, mental well being and the ability to focus on what truly matters?

The question that I would like to invite us to think about is should we slow down in order to catch the speed of life? Can we achieve more by doing less?

Hailing Huang, MA, CCC

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

An Alternative Way of Doing Eat, Pray, Love

Posted by: Hailing Huang on January 25, 2013 3:15 pm

Introduced by a friend, I watched the movie: Eat, Pray, Love and come up with a thought from a counsellor’s perspective: there is an alternative way of doing Eat, Pray, Love, which represents healing, soul discovery and finding balance.

Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, was on the New York Time best selling list for 199 weeks. Liz, the main character in the movie, is a modern American woman who had what a modern woman wants: husband, country home, and successful career. However, instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. After her divorce, she embarks on a journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia to explore three different aspects of her nature: pleasure, devotion and a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

It is glamorous to go around the world and to find the answers. Yet, from a therapist’s perspective, I would like to share with Liz that there is an alternative way of doing this healing. I would suggest a person who is in the same situation could also do some therapy work.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA