Tag Archives: immigrant

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

End of Summer

Posted by: Priya Senroy on September 30, 2013 10:06 am

Hello Counsellors….

Hope you had great summer… for me… It was a time for letting o as well as acquiring new information to sustain me during the Canadian Winter Hibernation….. I had the opportunity to attend events and workshops through-out the summer and as part of my work, I attended a settlement service event here in Toronto which was attended by service providers from as far as PEI and Manitoba.

We as counselors working with diversity are always looking for best practices that we can incorporate into our exiting work and also trying not to reinvent the wheel. In one such chance encounter, I came across the Aurora Therapy Program for Immigrant and Refugee Families, who are based in Winnipeg, Manitoba and are also featured in the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website. I got to meet eh ‘therapists;’ and was enriched by the work that they are doing.  Its a new program and this is how they describe w=the need for its existence in their website:  The new Therapy Program for Immigrant and Refugee Families came about as a result of our efforts to become more involved with our surrounding community. We recognized that there was a large part of this community that we had not been able to serve due to various obstacles, including language, cultural differences, and the stigma many members of refugee and immigrant communities associate with mental health issues (Aurora Family Therapy Centre).

I get the opportunity to work with immigrants and refugees and have often been approached to support issues like Your Family Support Counsellor provides support for:

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

Helping – Doing It For Them Or For Me? Part 1

Posted by: Guest on April 29, 2011 10:29 am

In my work with non-mainstream clients, I’ve often thought that being an immigrant is a crucial advantage in counselling other immigrants and refugees. But it is not enough. Although once being an immigrant has helped me understand common issues brought by this population, I don’t believe it provides automatic credentials to help other newcomers.

As counselors we need to have knowledge of ourselves and important issues in our own biography, so we can not only use our strengths in session but also navigate wisely through the muddy waters of our traumas. And it is particularly within such waters that we need to look closely when trying to figure why we decided to help in the first place.

I remember vividly Dr. Alfried Langle’s lecture in which he explained how help must come from a free place within ourselves. By ‘free’ he meant that help must be a conscious decision, one in which we are not feeling obligated or compelled to help. If I feel so overruled by impulse that I can’t resist (“I can’t help it”) but to throw myself into assisting someone, there is a great danger I am feeling triggered to fix it. When in a place of trigger, I am more susceptible to reacting automatically and not fully being there for my client.

I take every experience of being triggered as an opportunity for exploration of my muddy waters. These are usually clients that I feel either very compelled to help or that I feel tremendous difficulty in helping – the common factor being that I feel the work as extremely easy or difficult.

If I am unaware of my motivations to help newcomers, I could be perpetually triggered into helping, seeing only my suffering in the client and, in fact, treating my own. The impulse to help gains an element of compulsion: I must always offer my hand in order to avoid the greater task of healing myself first.

This posting will be continued…


Bianca Buteri, M.A., M.Ed., is a Child and Youth Mental Health counsellor, working with diverse and mainstream clients in Metro Vancouver, BC. She became a Canadian citizen and busy mom in 2010 and shares her time with her husband and 11-month-old daughter.

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