COVID-19, Trauma

COVID- 19 Week 5 (4/13 to 4/17) Journal

flash II TrainingMoving into week 5 (4/13 to 4/17), I am tired from the training over the weekend and also surprised that I was able to sit through 7.5 hours on Saturday afternoon (4/11) and signed up another one for this coming weekend.

I tried to use the technique I learned from the weekend training (Flash Technique), and it was surprisingly well! I felt very encouraged to continue to do so.

Some clients who realized that the pandemic is not going to be over soon. They started to call me for the sessions. It’s interesting to see they presented the same emotionsal reactions similar to those clients who have stayed in therapy (see week 1 notes). They also presented distress, anxiety, uncertainly, and lost of control. 

The bad news is that there have been some problematic issues popping up with the couple therapy sessions. Some couples started back to the meeting this week after finally settling down with the routine. Because of their children at home, the couple therapy session didn’t go as well as I planned. Those couples were scared of their children listening to them, and I was hypervigilance as they did. I have no way to help them because they can’t come to the office either.

The other troubling news were some former clients called for the sessions because their relationship has been deteriorating since the social distancing and working from home order. From their description, the treatment received from their significant others is in the borderline of emotional abuse. I felt very concerned and powerless.

The other troubling situation were some of the former clients who were first respondents started to call for the sessions. Their voices sounded so anxious and unsettling. We scheduled the appointment, and I am beginning to get very concerned.

These are the situations that made me feel very powerless.

Some of my friends also started to voice their anxiety and depression after working from home for a month. Yeah, it’s been a month, and there is no sign of those virus slowing down. I feel the weight of my clients’ emotional adjustment and coping and my anxiety all on my shoulder.

This is a tough week, and I feel tired and exhausted.

Check out my practice of the Flash Technique on myself.

Check out these articles about the couple relationship issues and copings during COVID-19 pandemic.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus—6 Tips to Protect Your Marriage While Quarantined

Coping with Uncertainty During COVID-19

Why the Increase in Domestic Violence During COVID-19?

How COVID-19 may increase domestic violence and child abuse


COVID-19, Trauma

COVID- 19 Week 4 (4/6 to 4/10) Journal

week 4




Moving into the 4th week (4/6 to 4/10), I can feel a sense of ease on Wednesday and Thursday night and continue to feel anxiety on Tuesday and Friday when I saw clients in person.






Some of the clients seemed to start to find their routine as I did in week 2 and week 3. I can see them gradually settled down and ready to continue the work from where we left “right before the whole world crumbled down.” (Yeah, that’s how I felt when I got the news that the schools were closing down and the businesses were closing down.) It made me feel positive because I am one step (or one week?) before my clients, which allow me to have time to figure out how to help them. 

I also felt a sense of accomplishment as I was able to do EMDR with some clients via Telehealth with excellent results. I found myself breath out a sigh of relief when my tries of the EMDR sessions went well, and the clients were moving along with their healing journey. Those are the clients who haven’t stopped therapy since the social distancing restriction and quickly transition to Telehealth with me. Using EMDR’s AIP model, we were able to find their prior trauma connected to the pandemic anxiety. We were able to process the earlier trauma. I felt a sense of ease when I know that I can support clients’ healing journey even with the Telehealth.

So, I jumped into more EMDR Telehealth Training and will go through the training this coming weekend. We’ll see how it goes. The idea of the 6 hours training online is daunting.

I also saw the news that the suicide hotline has been very busy since the pandemic breaks. I found myself with two different feelings. The first feeling was anger. I am angry that the government has not adequately developed a protocol before shutting down. I know this is not rational, but I feel mad. I told a lot of my friends that many people would die of anxiety/depression before the COVID-19 took their life. I was extremely concerned about shutting down and moving to Telehealth without proper planning three weeks ago!

On the other hand, my different reaction is: I am glad that people finally realized the importance of mental health. Mental health is an invisible illness, and people don’t usually pay attention to these hidden issues. I am glad that some reporters actually paid attention.

Suicide Prevention Crisis Hotlines (From Mass.Gov)

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call one of the 24-hour crisis hotline numbers below right away:

COVID-19, Depression/Anxiety, Trauma

Stress Reaction- Overthinking

C9E6B3FC-1211-465B-AC05-0EE562000D52_4_5005_cI sprained my ankle last week. Yeah, I know, right? How can this happen?

The answer is: I was too occupied with everything going on. When I got a chance to go out for a run, I was thinking about everything I needed to do and moving my schedule and tasks around my head. So, I didn’t see the stones on the road and by the time I was on the ground, it was too late.

It took me a good minute to finally got up. Luckily, I was only a mile away from home and it wasn’t too difficult to drag my bump ankle home.


So, in the past five days, all I can do was got up, plan my day, meditate, and work. I started to feel my mood sour and tank after so many days just sitting around.

Being an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapist, I know it’s important I cope with the stress bottom up (meaning not from my head but with my body). This morning, I decided to do some yoga. I did about 15 minutes of Sun Salutation and about a minute of Toe Stretches to stretch out my sprained ankle.

Here is the link for the Sun Salutation, a very easy one.

Here are the YouTube Yoga website I commonly visited for your reference.

Here are the appts for meditation I often used to help me calm dwon with my anxiety.

I felt great when I looked at the sun rise outside of my window while I saluted to the Sun.

Overthinking? Maybe moving around your body for about 10-15 minutes will be helpful.

Now, onward with our day. May your day be healthy and safe.

COVID-19, Depression/Anxiety, Trauma

Stress Reaction — Stress Eating

What’s yours tress reaction? A few friends and I were talking about “stress eating” due to coping with COVID-19. It got me to think about the stress reaction.

One of my stress reaction, somatically, is hives. I don’t usually “feel” stress. When I was writing my doctoral dissertation, I had hives the entire year. I went to see three different doctors and they did bunch of test for allergy. I was severely allergic to cats, dogs, and mold. Otherwise, it’s just the regular seasonal allergy. So, one of the doctors suggested that my hives might be the reaction to stress. “Stress?” I think, “How could it be possible. I don’t “feel” stress.” I was telling the truth. I really didn’t feel it but my body was telling me what I didn’t feel. How do I know that? I defended my dissertation with one of the eyes swollen with hives but it disappeared few hours after I finished my defense.

What’s your stress reaction that you are not aware but showing up somatic? In this coming week, pay attention to yourself about your stress reaction.

Oh, as to my stress eating, this is what I did. I posted this sign on my refrigerator to remind myself.  Does it work? Yeah, sometimes, I was able to stop myself from opening the refrigerator but sometimes I just say to myself: “oh, well, I am going to eat that no matter what.” Haha.



COVID-19, Trauma, Uncategorized

COVID- 19 Week 2 (3/23 to 3/27) Journal

week 2Moving int the 2nd week (3/23 to 3/27), the Governor shut down the essential business on 3/24, and the news announced on 3/23. I started to call all the clients and to prepare for the shutting down of my practice. About 4 hours later, I finally got the news that my office is considered an essential business, and I am able to see clients in person.

This week is chaotic. “Flexible” is the word I have been keeping in mind. I had to constant adjust my schedule and my work. This is not easy for me because I have always had a routine. Suddenly, my life is unpredictable and I am not sure what would happen next.

What’s worst for me was uncertain whether to completely closing down the office. I know that it’s important for me to remain open to some clients who really need this time for some reason. I almost had nightmares everynight.

I would wake up from hearing some clients told me: “it’s all your fault that I am in the hospital because I can’t see you in person.”

After falling into sleep again, I would wake up from another nightmare of the news headline says: “x number of people contracted COVID-19 at Dr. Grace Chen’s Office!”

I continued to struggle with the balance of seeing clients face-to-face or via Telehealth. Then, I realized that I can ask my friends’ help. I consulted some of my friends who are doctors and psychologists working in the hospital in Taiwan. They provided me their guidelines and criteria to screen the clients before the meetings, which allows me to come up with some gudelines for myself. (Please see my office response to COVID-19 and screening criteria.) 

COVID-19, Trauma

COVID- 19 Week 1 (3/16-3/20/2020) Journal

week 1I have known the COVID-19 virus since January. The news broke in Taiwan since the 2nd week of January. In a way, I have lived through the experiences of my friends and family in Taiwan vicariously since January. I have known the severity of the issues. However, it is until the 3/13, when the Governor declares the state of the emergency that I realized that “The Great America” is not invincible.

The first week (3/16-3/20) was chaotic for me. I knew this would be a long haul and needed to have some strategy. However, I have some difficult time to figure out what to do. Immediately, I know that some of my clients are not able to do the Telehealth sessions because they don’t have the privacy at home or internet access at home. My other concern is the clients with EMDR treatment. How am I going to continue to provide the EMDR treatment to them via Telehealth?

On the other hand, I also knew that I need to make changes for the sake of the public. I would feel morally responsible if anyone catches the virus in my office. I stuck in the dilemma for a week while gradually moving my clients to the Telehealth.

In the meantime, I tried to ask myself: what can I do? What do I have in control? I hopped onto any online resources I have to learn how to do EMDR online.



Depression/Anxiety, Trauma

[Depression & Anxiety] YouTube Yoga

YouTube Yoga

I started practicing yoga in 2011 to help ease my growing knee pain due to running. Surprisingly, practicing yoga helped the pain in my knees, and I have been on and off practicing it ever since. Because I have to accommodate the needs of the clients who come to therapy before and after the traditional working hours, I have difficulty to go to the yoga studio regularly. In the last few years, I have been relying on “YouTube Yoga” to help me sustain my yoga practice.

Research has found yoga helpful in coping with trauma, stress, depression, and anxiety. I listed all the research articles I have read at the bottom of this entry for your references.

If you have never tried yoga before, I highly recommended that you take some classes in the local yoga studio with the certified teachers. When we do yoga at home while watching the video, we are not able to see our own postures because the eyes are on TV. It’s essential to have the teacher to watch out for you in the beginning until you are familiar with the basics of the yoga postures.

However, if you can’t afford to go to the studio or your schedule is not flexible, please start by all the foundational yoga postures in these channels to get yourself familiar with all the basic poses before you try the entire class. 

Here are the channels I have tried and would like to share with you. Before I get into the details of why I like each channel, I want to answer this commonly asked question: how do you know which one you are going to do? My first criteria are “how much time do I have?” Most of the channels created the playlist based on the length of the program. I generally go into the playlist with the time I have. My second criteria are how I feel about my body at the moment. If I feel very sore, I might do a deep stretch. If I feel the need to have more exercise, I might go with a flow type of yoga. Most of the channels provide the playlist that group the similar type of yoga together.  Continue reading “[Depression & Anxiety] YouTube Yoga”


[The Myth of Sexaul Abuse # 3] Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony and the Myth of “lying about sexual assault ” (part II)

sexual assault myth # 3
(I am sorry this entry becomes this long. Please read the first entry here.)

Unable to recall the details

The next paragraph is the first thing caught my eye to believe that her story is true but also used by many people to attach her credibility: lack of details of the events happened before the assault.

I truly wish I could provide detailed answers to all of the questions that have been and will be asked about how I got to the party, where it took place, and so forth. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult. Continue reading “[The Myth of Sexaul Abuse # 3] Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony and the Myth of “lying about sexual assault ” (part II)”


[The Myth of Sexaul Abuse # 3] Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony and the Myth of “lying about sexual assault ” (part I)

I was on vacation in Budapest when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. When I woke up that morning, I saw her statement posted on the NPR website. I immediately said to my friend that her story is credible because she displayed the classic symptoms I have seen in all my clients in the past 20 years. That afternoon, we made it back to the hotel room to use the wifi to watch her testimony online.

There are many trauma specialists have pointed out the significance of her testimony in many different ways. Dr. Ford empowered many women who have not yet talked about their sexual trauma in the past. Sadly, many discussions online argued about whether her story was accurate and credible or not. In this article, I wanted to use her statement to point out the symptoms the sexual trauma survivors have experienced and to discuss the arguments of “lies” in the sexual trauma that often added another layer of the wound on the adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Continue reading “[The Myth of Sexaul Abuse # 3] Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony and the Myth of “lying about sexual assault ” (part I)”

Depression/Anxiety, Trauma

When the chaos becomes norm


A week ago on Thursday, 9/13/2018……..

It was like a regular late afternoon. I finished the 4 pm session and ready for my 5 pm session. Suddenly, my phone rang, and I ignored it to start the 5 pm session. At 6 pm, as I said goodbye to the clients, there was plenty of message on my phone, including one cancellation. This was when I realized that there was a gas line explosion in Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence. My office is located on the town line of these three towns and, thus, the cancellation.

Continue reading “When the chaos becomes norm”

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