Dr Chien Gooi is a Clinical Psychologist who works from a busy group practice in the Sydney inner city suburb of Glebe.
Chien is passionate about helping his clients gain clarity so they can overcome the obstacles holding them back in life.
He uses evidence-based practice with practical tools to help his clients make positive changes in their lives. It’s this practical approach that allows his clients start to see changes in their day to day lives.
Here’s what he said when we spoke to him recently.
Tell us a bit about your practice- where it is, who you work with and the services you offer
I work in Glebe, Sydney. My partner Dr Elizabeth Hall and I set up the practice together, and we have an associate, Ivone Rebelo, working with us too. Between the three of us we work with children, adolescents and adults. I work with adults, mainly those who are struggling with anxiety, and also those experiencing grief.
How did you become interested in counselling and working as a psychotherapist?
I’ve always been interested in understanding human behaviour and also the ways we navigate through the ups and downs in life. This perhaps comes from seeing people go through pain and suffering, including those who are close to me and my own experiences. Through this sense of curiosity towards human experiences, I’ve also seen the great healing that can take place through genuine and caring interactions between people. This has deeply inspired me to offer help and support to others, and also to work professionally in this area.
How do you believe people change and what supports long-lasting change?
One of the most crucial and basic things that enable change is having a sense of clarity. This can often be achieved through talking to someone who is supportive and understanding, and also someone who asks questions and provide constructive feedback. For many people, an in-depth conversation enables a sense of clarity to emerge, leading to a greater understanding of what the key issues are and where the stuck points may be. This understanding opens up the space for new perspectives and new ideas, and also a curiosity to try out new ways of being.
From this foundation, other important things continue to support the change process. Firstly, it’s the ability to evaluate which are the things that can be changed and which are the life areas to focus your energy and effort. Secondly, is developing the skills to work with difficult emotional states, which can sometimes be very intense and highly distressing. Thirdly, is having the ability to reflect on issues and situations by taking a more all rounded approach; and finally, is refining the ability to continuously take actions that invite positive change in your life. All these things work in combination to create a greater sense of wellbeing in yourself and improve things around you – your circumstances and relationships – creating meaningful, lasting change.
Tell us about your approach and why you believe the way you work is effective in helping people change.
The first thing I always do is take the time to really get to know someone – what’s going on for them, what’s important to them, what’s affecting them in their life at this time. From there, I work together with clients to create an overall picture of the various life challenges and how some of these issues may be linked or reinforce each other. Having this mapped out is important as it allows us to develop a plan to tackle the different things that get in the way of how they want to live.
I then work with clients to help overcome the obstacles that might be holding them back, and work out practical steps they can take – often the key part is making sure the steps are small enough so they can actually be achieved. This way of working is effective because it’s a very realistic approach – it takes into account all the things that are influencing the current circumstances, and then addresses them systematically. It’s also a practical approach, which means people see real changes in their day to day lives.
Tell us what a client can expect to experience in an initial counselling session with you.
In an initial counselling session, I explain a little about how I work, and that the main goal of the session is for the client to get a sense of who I am as a person, and for me to start getting to know them, and especially what’s going on for them at this point in time. I then ask the client to start with what’s brought them to see me, and continue with asking questions along the way to make sure I get a good sense of things.
I’ll often ask if they’ve had any previous experience with counselling and what that was like, so I can build on things that have worked, and not repeat things that weren’t useful. I usually ask what their main goals are for coming to see me. By the end of the session I usually get enough of an understanding to be able to give a brief outline of some ideas of how to go ahead, and to see how that fits with the client. Clients can then decide if they’d like for us to work together.
On a personal note, tell us something that you’re passionate about or love to do in your spare time.
One of the main things I pursue in my spare time is mindfulness meditation practice. I find it helps with all aspects of life, personally and professionally. I’ve practiced mindfulness long before becoming a psychologist and I usually go on meditation retreats every year. The practice has made a big difference to me personally, helping me deal more effectively with various life challenges, be more present and connected in relationships, and feel more grounded generally.
If you would like to contact Dr Chien Gooi or make an appointment for counselling, please visit his Australia Counselling profile or call him on (02) 8068 4361.