Gateways to Lightness

Every day I eat, play, sleep and repeat. Is it wrong to live my life like this?”, asked a tertiary student during a talk that I recently conducted. Well, this could be an easy or a difficult question to answer, depending on who the person is asked to answer it…

As my talk was about the statuses and conditions of mental health among young people, the question was raised during the Question and Answer segment, to which I had to provide a quick and short reply.

I remember I acknowledged that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the situation, as it was what normal human beings do. In fact, it also applies to the animal kingdom. For life and livelihood, we need to keep our bodies healthy to function well and behave in the desired manner. If we do not have a strong body and a balanced mind, we will not be able to use any power even if we were extraordinary human beings.

On this basis, I went on to show that the real challenge is what to do and how to offer other meaningful and satisfying things, after the daily routine of eating, playing, sleeping and repeating. To me, this is a more crucial question for us to take a moment and consider.


It’s OK not to be OK

It is especially important for me to recognise and be aware of psychological disturbances, mental destabilisation and emotional disruptions in young people. What they experience and encounter is really real and true. Never doubt their pain.

After all, our youth hold the key to creating a better future for our world. Keeping their mental state and mind in a stable and healthy perspective is essential. This expectation goes beyond the basic need of educating for knowledge, training for skill sets and fostering moral values.

Dr Daniel Fung, head of Singapore’s Institute of Mental Health, said that he has observed an uptrend in teenagers with emotional dysregulation, who may display destructive behaviour either towards themselves or towards things around them.

With this view and attitude, we should accept that the mental conditions of some youths are “not OK” at a particular situation and time. Besides this, “it is OK” for them to be in that state, hopefully for a short while. This position opens a vital and needed door for us to provide them with the right timely support and direction.

Take for example the story of Ms G, a young ex-client of mine.


This is for your own good

Ms G (name changed for confidentiality), was a Junior College student in Singapore. She engaged my therapy service because she felt “jaded, fatigued, lost” and she did not know what she “should do”.

Though Ms G excelled in her studies, she was dissatisfied and unhappy as she was taking some subjects that totally did not appeal to her. Forced by her parents’ pet phrase, “This is for your own good”, she was demanded to pursue these subjects that she did not like nor was interested in.

The endless cycle of assignments and examinations of these subjects which Ms G was expected not only to do and take, but to excel in them, drove her to an unbearable bottomless pit of emotional turmoil. Finally, she “collapsed and was paralysed” psychologically and mentally.

It was not easy to process Ms G’s affect concerning her emotions, feelings, sensations and moods, as she kept a distance from me. Obviously, these therapy sessions were arranged by her parents and “it was for her own good”.

Rumi highlighted “The gates made of light swing open. You see in.. I saw the opportunity for me to use the same phrase as a key to enter Mr G’s tight-locked castle in her mind.

It was very helpful when I invited Ms G to comment on her parents’ pet phrase, allowing her to express her voice unreservedly. Along the way, I explored other possible angles and perspectives on why, what and how her parents had done and decided for her since her childhood.

With much compassion, empathy and understanding based on a non-judgemental disposition, Ms G eventually became open with me. Such a breakthrough in establishing a therapeutic alliance, facilitated a more directional and focused intervention for dealing with her unmotivated spirit and depressive state of mind.


You don’t need to own them

One of the therapy techniques and tools used and highly appreciated by Ms G was what I called “Externalisation”, in addressing her persistent low moods. I believe it worked for Ms G effectively as she was a very sensitive young lady about her own emotions and feelings.

In the therapeutic process, I requested Ms G to be very mindful of the gloomy emotions and grim feelings that she noticed and observed, whenever they engulfed and immersed her, which was totally out of her control and influence.

I guided Ms G not to possess such negative affect with vigilant self-talk, like:

  • Oh…There’s an emotion of sadness.
  • Yes, this sense of melancholy is waving in again now.
  • Ah…Isn’t it a sentiment of grief creeping around?
  • Hmm…Here’s a feeling of sorrow.
  • See! A sensation of heaviness is forming on the chest of the body.
  • Right…There’s a mood of blues sneaking inwards at this moment.

This is a high level of consciousness directed the unwholesome emotions, feelings, sensations and moods externally, by not having “I, me, my and mine” involved.

Ms G was reminded that she did not need to own the adversative affect, of constantly telling herself that “I am sad”, “I am in a bad mood”, “I am not happy” etc. This mindfulness transformed her usual reactions to becoming responses, toward the destructive affect.

I further required Ms G to objectively check and scrutinise how the ebbs and flows of the unfavourable affect gushed to her and drowned her. This process assisted her to be aware of and understand better on what were the possible triggers and causes.

These moments of notification, observation, identification, labelling, naming, exploration, examination and investigation, are built on a non-judgemental stance as a cornerstone.

During these stages, intense and significant harmful affect requires the necessary place, space and pace for proper processing. Ms G told me how she could feel a movement of uneasiness and restlessness that rose and fell, before finally disappearing.

This therapeutic technique was adopted and adapted for Ms G’s conditions, primarily because of her personality and temperament. And through frequent practices, her sullen and surly moods stabilised, and eventually became more balanced.

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in., says Leonard Cohen. After this stage of intervention, I seized the opportunity to facilitate a heart-to-heart conversation between the parents and Ms G. After much time, energy and resources, an agreement was made that Ms G was to continue with her Junior College in the same subjects, and she would be allowed to select her preferred faculty in the University she wanted.

I echoed what Carl Jung had emphasised, “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.”.

Pertaining to the episode in this family, the ripple effect of such a profound family dialogue cleared the relationship misconceptions and misperceptions between the parents and child.

Their expectations and affection with and for each other were re-defined and comprehended with new meanings and deeper love. The ties and bonds in this small family were thus becoming tighter and stronger.

In the last therapy session, Ms G declared to me that she sensed “lightness” in her, a feeling of weightlessness and brightness. To her, it was an outcome of her regaining emotional calmness and serenity.

The promise of Ms G’s parents in supporting her future academic pursuit, greatly energised and motivated her to finish her studies, which she did with flying colours. And Ms G indeed managed to enrol herself on the course programme she desired, at her chosen University.

It is gratifying to know that Ms G, one of our youths who hold the key to creating a better future for our world, had already used it to open a gateway for shaping and moulding her personal future first!


I will love the light

for it shows me the way,

yet I will endure the darkness

for it shows me the stars.


Og Mandino


Note: As this article is mainly catered to general members of the public, the case conceptualisation, intervention formulation, discussion and terminologies used are deliberately simplified and presented for an easy reading, comprehension and relevancy.



This article is written based on Krish Phua’s greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore “Inside Mind Insights” for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

This article was originally published on on 22 Feb 2023.

Hurting to Heal







Hurt People; Hurt People.

This phrase has a certain element of truth.

Think about it. If we pay sufficient attention to those who knowingly or unknowingly cause suffering to others, they are likely to be observed as unhappy people in the first place.

And when unhappiness cannot be expressed appropriately and processed healthily, it becomes uncontrollable for such people. With striking out at others as the only coping mechanism or defense mechanism or even protection mechanism available to them, it causes even more unhappiness for others and for themselves.

Such behaviours are even more obvious in cases of abuse, regardless of their nature; verbal, physical, mental, psychological, or sexual. Thus, creating a vicious cycle.

A few of my clients encountered adverse childhood experiences and these misfortunes negatively impacted their lives as teenagers and adults, who may even be in their twilight years. The hidden grudge, misery, and sorrow in their lives may have been unconsciously transferred to others.

I am afraid this observation can be applied to ourselves as well; that is, if we dare to admit it.

An anonymous wise person said, “If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.

It has been suggested that one of the ways to get ourselves healed and stop the bottomless downward spiral is to “forgive and forget” these tragedies.

The question is, can we really forgive and forget these adversities easily, willingly, and fully? My answer is not an absolute “yes”.

Let me illustrate with the following ex-client of mine.


A Hurt Child

A newly-wed young couple sought my help due to some challenges in their relationship. On the surface, the wife looked healthy, learned, capable, and doing well in a promising career.

However, after major quarrels with her husband over some stressors, she has a tendency to display self-harming behaviours at home. This triggered much fear and anxiety for her husband, as well as creating further conflict and friction in their marriage.

After a couple of sessions with Mrs D alone (name changed for confidentiality), the causes for her outbursts began to unveil.

For starters, she was diagnosed with a childhood skin problem, which led her to be constantly bullied during her formative schooling years. During this time, Mrs D also felt that her best friend in school betrayed her for self-protection. This “best friend” joined Mrs D’s bullies and ganged up to ostracise Mrs D. Mrs D’s school was also unable to completely shield her from being verbally and physically harmed by these bullies for years.

Due to this skin disease, Mrs D’s class attendance and academic performance were affected. To make matters worse, her extended families tend to compare school rankings and standings, education streaming and examination results, non-academic awards and recognitions, leadership titles and responsibilities amongst the cousins, belittling Mrs D.

In spite of these distressing setbacks, Mrs D studied harder and sharpened her leadership and creativity qualities in the educational setting. After graduating from a famous University, she joined a reputable organisation and was placed on an accelerated development track.

Mrs D’s resilience and determination in academia and career pursuits were remarkable and commendable. Although her skin condition was under control in her adulthood, the deep feelings of humiliation, hurt and unjust since childhood haunted her frequently. She had nightmares, flashbacks, and sensations of collapsing at times, which gave her much mental anguish.

When Mrs D was triggered by some tension in relationships, especially related to family and marriage, the emotional turbulences of a hurt child would emerge and engulf her suddenly. This steered her to lose her rationality and senses, causing her to physically hurt herself to cope with the psychological torment, sometimes in front of her husband.


Remember and Recover

I could not help but recognise and acknowledge Mrs D’s willpower and courage to seek professional therapy for her past traumas and the prevailing crisis. Her self-awareness and self-preservation were indeed affirmable and admirable.

During a pivotal therapy session, Mrs D sobbed uncontrollably, stating that she knew she should forgive and forget those people who had hurt her since childhood, but she simply could not do so.

I told Mrs D gently yet assertively that she was not expected to “forgive and forget”. She was stunned.

Instead, I suggested to Mrs D to consider another option instead – “remember and recover”. Such a paradigm shift challenged her morally-nurtured perception and socially-conditioned practice.

To Lewis Smedes, “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” I am totally aligned with this perspective.

(At that stage of the therapy process, I was mindful that Mrs D’s “moralities”, “beliefs“, “values”, “musts”, “shoulds”, “have-tos”, “ought-tos” etc had unnecessarily built another burden of “moral kidnapping” and self-blaming on herself, while her willingness and readiness to “forgive and forget” were not fully internalised yet. Thus, it was more important for me to focus on her situation as it was.)

I also agree with how Susane Colasanti puts it reflectively, “I want to be the kind of person who can do that. Move on and forgive people and be healthy and happy. It seems like an easy thing to do in my head. But it’s not so easy when you try it in real life.”

Mrs D was psycho-educated that “remember and recover” were even much harder to attain, yet more beneficial and valuable for her own self-growth, self-compassion, and self-love.

To me, “remember and recover” are an advanced stage of self-evolution.

Over a few therapy sessions, Mrs D and I spent the needed time, energy and resources in:

  • exercising bodily relaxation

  • practicing physical grounding

  • upkeeping emotional stability

  • establishing graphical life timelines

  • processing traumatic memory works

  • story reframing

  • “inner child” imagery re-scripting

  • event interpretation

  • exploring perspective-taking

  • strengthening self-compassion and self-love

  • conditioning self-forgiving processes

All these were aimed at what Bree Despain emphasised, “We don’t forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because they need it, because we need it.”, with an ultimate therapy goal in mind – a full recovery.

The journey of recovery was not smooth for Mrs D. So, you can imagine my elation when she finally gained an insight that she could be in a better position to move on with her own life after her wounds were healed. At the same time, she accepted that the physical and psychological scars would stay, which serve as a memory, reminding her to treat herself and others, better and nicer.

Healed People; Heal People.

The best revenge is none.

Heal, move on,

and don’t become like those who hurt you.


Pamela Short

Note: As this article is mainly catered to general members of the public, the case conceptualisation, intervention formulation, discussion and terminologies used are deliberately simplified and presented for an easy reading, comprehension and relevancy.



This article was originally published on on 17 May 2022.

My First Lover

And if I asked you to name all the things that you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?

I experienced an epiphany after reading these wise words! I thanked this anonymous person profusely!

To me, placing ourselves as a priority does not make us immoral, egoistic, narcissistic, self-centred, or selfish.

A disposition of “placing ourselves as a priority” could be translated into:

  • Self-Love

  • Self-Compassion

  • Self-Kindness

  • Self-Care

  • Self-Soothing, and so on


Some may even extend, but not limited, to the following:

  • Self-Concept

  • Self-Existence

  • Self-Acceptance

  • Self-Esteem

  • Self-Worth

  • Self-Confidence

  • Self-Fulfilment

  • Self-Growth

  • Self-Evolution

Though the meanings of each term are not exactly the same, the ultimate common message here is this – treat ourselves nice.

For simplicity of discussion, I shall use the term, Self-Love, in this article.

It is important to clarify that to “treat ourselves nice” is neither an excuse nor a reason for us to be involved in some Self-Indulgent thoughts, feelings, or behaviours that could harm ourselves and others.


Instead, committing to Self-Love in a proper and balanced approach can bring us greater positivity and feelings of goodness in various facets of our lives. Self-Indulgence, on the other hand, does not. Thus, let’s practice Self-Love, consciously and wisely.

I reckon that I need to continue taking good care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. I strongly feel that even a Superman or a Superwoman will be unable to “save the world” if these Superhumans do not have a sound quality in any of these aspects.

In my case, this outlook of Self-Love reminds me of my various roles in my life much clearer and more purposeful. This is especially so in my current career as a therapist. It prevents me from experiencing compassion fatigue, burnout, secondary traumatic stress, occupational tension, and tiredness. As a result, I can continue providing professional intervention and treatment to my clients, supporting them to accomplish their therapy goals.


Languages of Love

I believe a lot of us are aware of “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr Gary Chapman. They refer to Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, and Receiving Gifts.

My interpretation is that such languages of love do not only apply to a couple or lovers, but to others such as their family members, relatives, and friends. On a higher level, they also could be extended to our neighbours, workplaces, community, social, or even other sentient beings.

In addition, I recognise that there are three dimensions in “The 5 Love Languages”:

  • Love Others: How do you express your love to others?

  • Be Loved: How do you want to be loved by others?

  • Self-Love: How do you love yourself?

Personally, I feel that how do we love ourselves using “The 5 Love Languages” is the most significant dimension among the three.

I had a male client who needed marriage counselling. During the therapy process, I noticed that he exhibited frustration and disappointment in the relationship with his wife of ten years, who bore him two children.

He worked long hours during the weekdays to put food on the table and to provide materialistic comfort and enjoyment for his family. Besides “Acts of Service”, “Gifting” is his second language of showing his love to his family.

However, after chatting with his wife alone separately, I discovered that his wife’s first two languages of love of being loved, were “Quality Time” and “Words of Affirmation”, whilst “Receiving Gifts” was the last amongst the languages.

Such a sequence of order and a gap in expressing love to each other between this couple were clarified, processed and aligned, during a session when both were present.

They were psycho-educated on “The 5 Love Languages”, facilitated to understand their respective life beliefs and values as a person, a spouse, a parent, and their own family as a whole. The misalignment in communication styles and disparity in expectations between them were sorted out and recalibrated as well.

When they were asked how did they practice Self-Love individually, with reference to “The 5 Love Languages”, they were clueless and dumbfounded.

The “Blessing Manifesting” infographic below was then shared with the couple.

They were led and guided to uncover their respective needed “Self-Love Languages” which formed a cornerstone for themselves first, and then incorporated it with “The 5 Love Languages”, for showing their love to each other.


Through this discussion and exercise, the couple better understood each other’s needs and wants, and respect their place, space, and pace in a more loving and passionate manner. (I was honoured to be told that they are expecting an addition to the family soon!)


Forget Me Not

There are many stories describing how the name of a tiny blueish flower, “Forget-Me-Not”, came about. One of them is based on a Greek myth. Zeus thought he had given all the plants a name, whereupon a small blue flower shouted “forget me not!”. Zeus decided to give the plant that name.

Regardless of how this flower’s name came about, the essence of the message is about remembrance, a quality that we should give to ourselves, at least. So please do not forget ourselves. We deserve to treat ourselves better.

I cannot agree more with Lucille Ball who proposed, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”; while Katrina Mayer highlights that “Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.

This sounds cliché, yet this is truly one of the primary life goals for us to pursue and achieve! When we treat ourselves nice, based on our own personal life beliefs and values, which should be moral, meaningful and appropriate, we keep the key to happiness, with us.

With such peace of mind as our foundation, how others treat us no longer matters.

If there are other sources of love rendered to us by others, then they could be considered as presents, bonuses and gratuities!

So, can you name all the things that you love? I hope your first answer is “Me! I am always My First Lover…The one and only.


To fall in love with yourself

is the first secret to happiness


Robert Morley

Note: As this article is mainly catered to general members of the public, the case conceptualisation, intervention formulation, discussion and terminologies used are deliberately simplified and presented for an easy reading, comprehension and relevancy.



This article is written based on Krish Phua’s greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore “Inside Mind Insights” for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

This article was originally published on on 19 Apr 2022.

The Three Minds

So, what are the KPIs of counselling?”, “How do you know it is successful?”, “How long can it be effective for?” I asked a counsellor friend of mine 10 years ago.

Being a corporate professional that I was back then, it was second nature to me to evaluate things based on return on investments and tangible results, such as profit and loss, market shares etc.

Even so, this particular friend of mine, whom I had already known for 20 years then, smiled and patiently explained that the “Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)”, “successfulness” and “effectiveness” of counselling, perhaps should not be measured with a corporate mindset.

In fact, in some cases, there may even be “no sighted improvement” during a course of counselling service. Yet, the client might suddenly remember what his counsellor had suggested or mentioned to him during counselling. And this could guide this client to gain an insight that might change his perspective on a pressing situation or issue instantly.

With this new realisation, this client might have been able to make an appropriate decision, leading to a more balanced and happier life. If so, then this would be a “success” story for my counsellor friend!

Little did this friend know that he would help launch my career in counselling and psychotherapy shortly after!



When I can accept the fact that I have many deficiencies, many faults, make a lot of mistakes, am often ignorant where I should be knowledgeable, often prejudiced when I should be open-minded, often have feelings which are not justified by the circumstances, then I can be much more real.”, shared by Carl Rogers, a psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach (and person-centred approach) in psychology.

Similarly, I must say that being a professional therapist, I do not know everything. Neither am I immune to feelings, biases or perceptions.

Lao Tzu said “The further one goes, the less one knows.” (其出弥远, 其知弥少), while Albert Einstein mentioned, “The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.” I could not agree more with these two wise men.

The journey as a professional therapist is also one of lifelong learning with no visible destination. As I hope to be able to serve my clients more effectively and impactfully, this is also a personal journey of acquiring more knowledge on therapy and keeping my saw sharp. This is why I consider myself as a “work-in-progress”, seeking ways to improve myself as well.

To support my clients to the best of my capacity and capability, I adopt and practice “The Three Minds” during a therapy session.


My First Mind

The first mind is about focusing all my attention on my clients during a therapy session without making assumptions. To do this, clarification is the key.

Sometimes, the therapy location can influence our perceptions, like mine. Take an ex-client of mine when I was volunteering as a therapist at a substance addiction recovery centre. For this ex-client, I only came to realise my presumption at the sixth therapy session that, his addiction issue was not about consuming illegal drugs, but his over-dependence on legally prescribed ones!

With this understanding, I needed to re-formulate my intervention plans on the spot for him, as the legalised access to such prescribed medication imposed another type of challenge in the therapy process.

Another danger is to assume that my clients want validation from me. I was told by a client who had received therapy service at another centre before that, “Have you been trying too hard?” She was referring to my frequent affirmations and recognitions of her efforts in overcoming her stressors. It was simply a wake-up call to me to throw away my vanity to “win her acceptance, as a fellow traveller on her journey of trauma-focused therapy!

I learnt that when clients engage my professional help, my ego has no place in establishing a therapeutic alliance. Instead, stay in the moment to identify counselling issues that have to be addressed properly at the right time, regardless of whether my clients have seen other therapists before.


My Second Mind

The second mind is all about being prepared for the unexpected during a therapy session. In particular, the immediate reactions and responses on the case conceptualisation and intervention plans.

Most of the time, I need to decide and formulate them on my feet, for driving my clients to the most suitable therapy direction. This may include ensuring them to take a sexual health screening for their own self-protection and to others, based on their sexual behaviours and habits.

A therapy centre’s service protocol could be different from other centres’, depending on its own vision and mission. Hence, a therapist may be expected to provide additional support to some clients, as part of the case management extraordinary needs.

For example, at a particular therapy centre which I served, there were a couple of times that I had to bring non-related clients for an anonymous HIV test in another centre nearby, during their respective therapy session. It was because they had unprotected sex with others some months ago. To ease their fear and anxiety, I accompanied them to do the test myself, though I knew I was perfectly safe. Fortunately, all results were negative for these clients too.

I also recognise that regardless of how pressed for time, I must conduct a proper therapy session closure for my clients.

In one of my sessions with a client with Bipolar Disorder, we had overrun on time and the next therapist was waiting to use the scheduled therapy room. Thus, I quickly summed up the session and vacated the room in a rush. A few days later, I got to know that she had experienced an emotional breakdown after the session.

Through this incident, I realised that if a therapy space is an issue, having a backup plan to conduct an appropriate session closure in a public location that allows short and confidential conversation, is the next best thing to do. This helps clients to feel that they are important to me and I genuinely care for their mental well-being.


My Third Mind

The third mind is one of the hardest yet the most important of “The Three Minds”. This is where I have to leave out my own set of values and perceptions, to have self-awareness and be non-judgemental during a therapy session.

In counselling speak, countertransference refers to a situation when a therapist transfers some emotions to a client during a therapy process. It means the client reminds the therapist of someone, some events or incidents or even objects. When such a situation occurs, a therapist needs to be conscious and mindful of the therapy process, as it may generate negativity to the psychotherapy outcomes.

My clients’ concerns can also sometimes affect me, as their therapist. In one particular couple therapy session, I noticed that I experienced countertransference on the taxing marriage relationship described to me. It reminded me of my parents’ marriage. At a suitable moment, I asked for a biological break. After taking a moment to compose myself through some emotional self-regulation techniques, I returned to the therapy room and continued the session, with a more balanced and objective mind.

I have learnt that when topics trigger my unhappy memories, I must be quick to recognise them, take immediate actions to observe and process my own emotions, while re-focusing my attention on my clients.

And when I lack that experience, I will need to have genuine empathy and compassion for my clients, no matter what are their issues.

A client was confiding in me about his deep grief and loss of his two pet cats which passed on not far apart in time. Being single, they were his “children”.

During the therapy session, I noticed that my empathy and compassion were somehow insufficient. After the client left, I sat on his chair and mentalised what he had gone through and what the two cats meant to him. Slowly, I started to comprehend why he used the words “fur kids”, “this family of three”, “dear babies” etc.

The act of changing seats helped me see things from my client’s perspective. It let me fully feel the loss of two “family members” within months, even if they were cats!

As mentioned, a professional therapist’s learning journey has no end. By applying “The Three Minds” approach for each therapy session, I am cultivating myself to be in a better position to assist my clients with their concerns. And by doing so, helping me gain more experiences to better support them in future too.


Now, back to my counsellor friend. Though I am not a “client” to him, I believe when he reads this article, he will be pleasantly surprised how his “casual” comments on counselling about 10 years ago, had unexpectedly made so much positive impact on me and my career direction!

I am grateful for his insight that inspired me to contribute in a small way, for transforming the lives of some of my clients! Isn’t this an exact reflection of his insight about counselling that had happened to me as well?


If you can’t do great things,

do small things in a great way.


Napoleon Hill


Note: As this article is mainly catered to general members of the public, the case conceptualisation, intervention formulation, discussion and terminologies used are deliberately simplified and presented for an easy reading, comprehension and relevancy.



This article is written based on Krish Phua’s greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore “Inside Mind Insights” for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

This article was originally published on on 15 Mar 2022.

Our Little Voice

Imagine that I suddenly sneeze uncontrollably and loudly during a therapy session with you. Your reaction to my embarrassing moment in the therapy room could be an indication of your relationship with me.

This was how Dr Theodore Jacobs, a child and adolescent psychoanalyst as well as an adult analyst, perceived his client’s therapeutic alliance with him.

In Dr Jacobs’ situation, his client offered him a hearty “God bless you” when Dr Jacobs could not hold back his sneeze while his client was commenting on Dr Jacobs’ “shortcomings”.

To Dr Jacobs, his client’s “expression of goodwill”, was a sign of the strong bond built between his client and himself. This amusing story was captured in his book, “The Possible Profession: The Analytic Process of Change”.


The Influence of a Therapist

In my previous article, “Mapmakers and Travellers”, I shared the findings of a classic research, showing the influence a therapist might have, or could have, which is:

  • 60% of “sense of control” over the psychotherapy outcomes, while a client has the remaining 40%.

  • Out of these 60%, the therapeutic relationship between both parties takes up 30%.

  • With this, it also means that a client could influence at least half of these 30% as well.

The importance of such a therapeutic alliance between a therapist and a client in determining the psychotherapy outcomes, can be illustrated with the story of an ex-client of mine.


Old Happy Self

Mr E (name changed for confidentiality) was in his 40s, single and had been on a long-term medication for his Bipolar Disorder for many years. He had suicidal ideations and attempts before.

He was living alone and was not close to his family and relatives. His social life was also very limited as he did not interact much with his neighbours, while his three closest friends lived overseas.

Due to the episodes of paranoia, anxiety and depression, which were beyond his control at times, he seldom stepped out of his house. This further reduced his interaction with people whist enhanced his aloneness and loneliness.

Although he had a successful career in the creative industry, he became unemployed for a few years because of his worsening mental health conditions.

It was fortunate that he was able to sell some art pieces he made at home, even though he could have produced more for sale. Yet, with the sale of these art pieces, he was able to lead a very simple and humble lifestyle.

It was a breakthrough for Mr E to finally realize that “enough is enough”. He had come to a stage where he could no longer “recognise myself” in a mirror anymore. It was during that moment he asked “Actually…Who am I now? I was not like this…I want to be my Old Happy Self again!

There is a Chinese saying, “Heaven helps those who help themselves” (天助自助者). As the first step to recovery, he took the initiative to reach out to the counselling centre that I was volunteering with. His case was assigned to me.


Precious Moments

Most of the therapy sessions were conducted virtually rather than in person due to his high level of fear and rumination about leaving his house. Each therapy session was “precious” to me as I would not know if that will be the last session as he might refuse to continue with the therapy. Or he would have hurt himself so badly that a subsequent session was impossible.

Having this in mind, my main therapy goals were focusing on three areas:

  • Safety and Security:

These were the prime priorities for me to ensure Mr E would not self-harm and self-destruct physically, mentally and psychologically. For his psychological and mental wellness, we frequently identified and processed the various cycles of maladaptive thoughts and unhelpful emotions, feelings and moods as well. He was also psycho-educated on the differences between “being safe” and “feeling safe”; “perceived fear” and “real threat”. He was requested to record such awareness of thoughts and emotions for tracing some behavioural patterns for self-monitoring and self-acceptance.

  • Anchoring and Stabilisation:

Emotional anchoring through some mindfulness skills was shared with Mr E for grounding and self-soothing. He was facilitated to gain back regularity and consistency in daily life. We co-designed a timetable of daily living routine for waking up, marketing and shopping, cooking and having meals, making arts and working, cleaning and washing, exercising and entertaining, resting and sleeping etc. Regulating his consumptions on the prescribed medication at the right dosages and timings was a vital goal for his mental health stabilisation too.

  • Regulation and Relaxation:

Mr E was trained on some practical strategies and techniques such as progressive relaxation process and diaphragmatic breathing etc, for regulating and easing his physical and mental state. The goal was not only to minimise the frequency, duration, intensity and severity of his emotional disturbances and mood swings but to prevent these encounters through regulating his autonomic nervous system as well. With some mindful relaxation techniques, his emotions of anxiety and stress were usually replaced by the feelings of relaxation and calmness.


Small Wins; Big Victories

Well, it is always easier said than done.

Mr E’s road of recovery was not a smooth journey. There were quite a few major episodes that he derailed from the therapy goals that we had agreed and worked at.

To a certain extent, it was understandable because Mr E had been habitually thinking, feeling and behaving in an inappropriate condition and manner for many years. It was not realistic to expect him to have a revolutionary change (absolute change) but evolutionary changes (incremental changes) instead.

As such, my objective was to let Mr E progressively experience some small wins, rather than big victories in a short run.


A Therapist’s Role in Recovery

It is said that a therapist is always “sitting big in a therapy room”, having the “power” over a client.

Like the image I used in “Mapmakers and Travellers”, I rather be a clear map, a sturdy compass and a tough haversack, whilst playing my role as a “fellow traveller” with Mr E.

  • As a Map:

Mr E was facilitated to understand the meanings of self-directed growth milestones in a life map, striking to reach his full potential for a better life stance ahead.

During a vital therapy session, under some intended and controlled confrontative intervention, his financial status was brought up on the table.

Having a full-time permanent employment was not a comfortable topic for discussion as he had been in an avoidance stage for a long time. With a few resource-based options being explored and analysed, a decision was made by him, for getting employed again, within three months.

The good news was that he did eventually land a full-time managerial position, which was related to creativity that aligned with his strengths and enjoyment.

  • As a Compass:

As for Mr E’s Bipolar Disorder, his moods could swing intensely, especially during those days when he was reluctant to take the prescribed medication. Sometimes, it would cause him to not even want to get up from his bed for days.

During an in-person therapy session with me, he was in a deep self-doubt and low mood state. He raised his head, looked into my eyes and asked me, “Do you believe that I could lead a happy life?

I knew it was critical for me to support him to determine a route direction like a compass, but it was a difficult question to me. No matter what of my reply, as a “Yes” or “No”, it could be interpreted in different meanings and might direct to two extreme ends of psychotherapy outcomes and impact.

I noticed that I had a pause for a moment, before telling him, “I choose to believe that, you could change.” Upon hearing this, his eyes filled with tears and smiled at me contentedly. It was at this moment, the therapeutic alliance between us raised to another higher level.

  • As a Haversack:

He was guided to believe that “strength is within”, by practising self-compassion as well as injecting hope and aspiration constantly into his life haversack for himself.

He might be badly discouraged if he could not sustain the expected positive changes too. Thus, I supported him to regain himself with some success stories in a prolonged timeframe that he could accumulate for himself. This helped him to have more sense of self-control and resiliency.

For instance, it was challenging for him to follow a “dailyliving routine as such a more balanced lifestyle was relatively new to him. I guided him to revise it to become a “weeklyliving routine. This allowed him to have more leeway and flexibility to slowly adapt to a more controlled daily living, without feeling frustration with himself.

Similarly, I changed his perception of his “To-Do List”, to become a “Done List”. This worked for him as he could maintain his motivation in doing things that he set for himself, rather than having a sense of failure when he could not finish the targets.


Leading and guiding Mr E to reach his final destination – to be his “Old Happy Self”, was a path filled with many thorns and rough terrains. An established rapport based on trust, respect, acceptance, non-judgemental, genuine care and concern between us, did motivate his determination to go on.

Aesop said, “Little by little does the trick”. Along the way, Mr E was assisted to uncover what internal and external resources that he already had and could have, accompanying him to continue on the journey. In addition, the sufficient place, space and pace rendered by me patiently to Mr E, nurtured and enhanced his little voice for finishing his journey of recovery, louder and louder!

Courage doesn’t always roar.

Sometimes courage is the little voice

at the end of the day that says

I’ll try again tomorrow.


Mary Anne Radmacher

Note: As this article is mainly catered to general members of the public, the case conceptualisation, intervention formulation, discussion and terminologies used are deliberately simplified and presented for an easy reading, comprehension and relevancy.



This article is written based on Krish Phua’s greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore “Inside Mind Insights” for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

This article was originally published on on 16 Feb 2022.

Mapmakers and Travellers

Some of my clients told me that our relationship is much more intimate and special than with their life partners, family members and even close friends.

What they meant was their willingness and unreserved sharing with me about their deepest and innermost desires, secrets, fears, regrets, pains, woes and other things they have not disclosed, or ever will, with others.

This unique relationship is indeed possible. Especially so, when both of us have already established a strong sense of therapeutic alliance, which is intensive, trustful, respectful and professional!

Yet, I have to emphasize that this rapport and understanding between a client and therapist is a long journey.

Just like how author, research professor and lecturer, Dr Brené Brown, wrote in her number one New York Times bestseller book, “Atlas of the Heart”, we are “Mapmakers and Travellers”.

And one particular quote in the book resonated with me, “Even when we have no idea where we are or where we’re going, with the right map, we can find our way back to our heart and to our truest self.

To me, this quote depicts vividly and reflectively one of the therapy goals, based on a profound yet professional connection that I have developed with most of my clients.

In many situations, my clients and I need to play the difficult but rewarding role of a Mapmaker and Traveller together, co-creating and journeying side-by-side on the personalised path of discovery, recovery, mastery, bravery and victory – for themselves or their loved ones.


The First Listener

At the end of the first therapy session with my clients, many would comment that they felt heard, understood, relieved and accepted. Such an experience was rare to them, as not many people in their lives had “listened” to them before.

As a professional therapist, I am humbled and honoured to be likely the first person in my clients’ lives, who could genuinely and actively listen to them with empathic understanding, unconditional positive regard, and without judgement.

Of course, the therapy services are not just only about listening to my clients. It is just a first step for case conceptualisation and formulating the individualised intervention and/or treatment plan for their respective issues and concerns.

These are the key factors for me to nurture and cultivate a strong therapeutic alliance with them. With such a sturdy bond, they will likely feel safe enough to trust and be comfortable with me. Thus, facilitating a sense of common goals or purposes, as a “fellow traveller” in therapy.


A Goody-Stuffed Haversack

Empathy and compassion from therapists continue to be integral factors in not only forming the therapeutic relationship but also increasing clients’ ability to feel validated and understood.

This is important because based on more than four decades of research on psychotherapy outcomes, the theories and techniques of professional therapy have very little to do with therapeutic success (

Instead, many research studies support that therapeutic alliance remains a key component of creating successful outcomes in psychotherapy (

The findings also concur that clients’ level of personal motivation, personality characteristics, and symptomatology do play a role in their therapeutic outcomes.

So, what exactly contributes to the psychotherapy outcomes?

According to a classic study by Lambert, M.J. (1992), “Implications of Outcome Research for Psychotherapy Integration”, these are the factors and their importance:

  • 40% – client and extratherapeutic factors (such as ego strength, social support, etc.)

  • 30% – therapeutic relationship (such as empathy, warmth, and encouragement of risk-taking)

  • 15% – expectancy and placebo effects

  • 15% – techniques unique to specific therapies

What does this mean?

A therapist might have, or could have 60% of “sense of control” over the psychotherapy outcomes, while a client has the remaining 40%.

A trained and caring therapist should be familiar with the social support networks and community resources available to his/her clients, for helping them in identifying and using these resources as well.

However, all these are made possible, only when clients feel secure and accept the therapists’ approach, which are contributed by the attitudes, authenticity, characteristics and personhood of the therapists.

With a well-built therapeutic alliance, I am in a better position to facilitate my clients to conduct a future-self visualisation. This exercise allows them to immerse themselves to maximise their potential in various aspects of life. I will also need to lead and guide them to make their owwn life map together with me. This life map is to open up all the possibilities, based on the direction they aim to explore, may it be short, middle or long term.

Then, my other vital tasks are to ensure that they are empowered to throw away all their life baggage, and replace them with a travelling haversack that is full of purpose, hope, courage, energy and positivity!


If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse. 

If I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming,

I will help you become that.


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Note: As this article is mainly catered to general members of the public, the case conceptualisation, intervention formulation, discussion and terminologies used are deliberately simplified and presented for an easy reading, comprehension and relevancy.



This article is written based on Krish Phua’s greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore “Inside Mind Insights” for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

This article was originally published on on 18 Jan 2022.

As It Is

If we can change one thing about us, what will it be?

Would it be our appearance, personality, ability, physical health, mental wellness, emotional well-being, family, relationship, finance, career, education or environment?

Sadly, each one of us is always unhappy with ourselves in one way or another. It is our human nature to always look for something better and better, from time to time.

While there may be nothing wrong with wanting a better Quality of Life, the key question to ask is, when is enough is enough?


Making Peace with Myself

Sometimes, in the pursuit of a better Quality of Life, and at one’s height of career success and financial independence, people may turn to substance abuse to cope with their stress and past traumas.

Let’s take the example of an ex-client of mine.

Ms C (name changed for confidentiality) was a young and successful finance executive in the Financial Services Industry. Some would even call her a high-flyer who is not even at her peak of success yet, especially when she still had a promising career ahead of her.

Yet, her personal life was the opposite of her career success. She was living alone, estranged from her family, while in a toxic romantic relationship for many years. Unfortunately, she took to substance abuse as a coping mechanism to life stressors in an attempt to escape from her struggles and sufferings.

Due to her substance abuse, she had to resign from her promising job with her then employer because of her dysfunctional lifestyle, caused by her serious addiction issues.

After three years of unemployment and continued substance abuse, with her savings depleting, she decided to take the first step to recovery. Ms C sought professional therapy from the Counselling Centre that I was with. And I was assigned to be her therapist.

Ms C and I spent some time, energy and resources together processing various dimensions of her life milestones, such as her childhood, family, growing years, education, relationships and employment. It was not an easy process for her as she had to be aware of and recognise how some of the unfavourable elements and incidents in life had shaped and moulded her into what she was.

Even so, an insightful moment came about during one important session. After some memory processing works were conducted on her and some deep contemplation in her, she uttered to me: “I want to accept myself first.


Let It Go vs Let It Be

To me, there are five basic directions for a therapist to guide a client with challenges. I call this my “5RsModel: Reflect, Reduce, Resolve, Remove and Recognise.

Here’s how it helped Ms C.

(A) Reflect

As Ms C was suffering deeply, it was crucial for me to empathise and support her in a non-judgemental disposition. This also laid the foundation of a strong therapeutic alliance between us.

During the process, the acknowledgement and validation rendered to her were a form of reflection for her to see her situation clearer. Just being heard, understood and affirmed were effective relief for Ms C to process her grief and loss of the past few years.

(B) Reduce

The immediate goal was to facilitate Ms C to stop self-harm.

This was not only in terms of the substance abuse in frequency, duration, intensity and severity, but her victim-mentality of self-blaming, self-criticism and self-judging as well.

(C) Resolve

Leading Ms C to review her unfulfilling relationship with her life partner was another important goal.

After much evaluation and introspection, she decided to start her life without this toxic relationship anymore.

(D) Remove

Ms C was guided to examine and analyse her career direction, re-employability and stop living on her dwindling savings.

For this direction, we were also looking at the various preventive measures for Ms C to return to substance abuse.

(E) Recognise

This is the hardest direction to move forward for, as it is a long mental process.

What’s important to know about “recognise”, as an acceptance, is this. Don’t “Let It Go” because this stance implies that we still have some

· sense of control over it

· ability in making decisions on it

· power on how much to let go

· capacity on when to release it

Let It Be”, on the other hand, demands for

· a complete surrender to it

· not posing any questions to it anymore

· a state of no negative emotions and feelings to be stirred up by it totally

· reckoning that no efforts are needed to change it further

Yes, it sounds scary, demoralising and even defeatist!

Here’s the thing. If we do not take this disposition of a full recognition, in acceptance to some irreversible and unamendable misfortunes that had happened to us, what else could we do about them? These mishaps in life could be a traumatic incident, a sudden death, a forced separation, a terminal illness, a deliberate humiliation, a deep hurt, a wrongful decision, etc.

I must stress that “Let It Beis not an excuse for some self-indulgence that harm ourselves and others. Instead, we sometimes should just accept things “As It Is”, wisely.


Back to Ms C, the traumas that happened in her childhood and family of origin are some unfortunate events that were unalterable and impacted her greatly and negatively. It took a lot for Ms C to perceive such adversities in a new interpretation, and finally forgive those people involved. Most importantly, she had ultimately forgiven herself fully as well, and moved on with her own life.

I am happy to be informed that Ms C has returned to the Financial Services Industry and leading a substance-free life, not long after the full therapy service was over.

The first step toward change is awareness.

The second step is acceptance.

Dr. Nathaniel Branden

Note: As this article is mainly catered to general members of the public, the case conceptualisation, intervention formulation, discussion and terminologies used are deliberately simplified and presented for an easy reading, comprehension and relevancy.



This article is written based on Krish Phua’s greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore “Inside Mind Insights” for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

This article was originally published on on 19 Dec 2021.

In or Out


This is the estimated number of decisions an average adult makes daily. These decisions are related to work, learning, eating, drinking, movements, shopping, dressing, sleeping, play, and so on. Well, that’s what my online research revealed.

For the purpose of this discussion, and factoring differences in culture, society, ethnicity, age, gender, and other demographical traits amongst us, let’s just take 10% of 35,000 decisions made. We are still looking at 3,500 decisions made each day!

Then, out of these 3,500 daily decisions, how many are vital decisions that determine the Quality of Life for ourselves and/or our loved ones?

Vital decisions include those that affect our wealth, employment, environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, social belonging, religious beliefs, safety, security, and freedom.

Most of us would feel stressed and anxious when making important decisions. The main reason is because of the fear of losing out due to the uncertainties that we are facing. Let’s look at these in greater detail below.


Holding On or Letting Go

A seemingly simple decision of whether to stay or leave is not easy during different stages of our lives. And especially so when we are playing the role of Persecutor, Rescuer or Victim.

Questions include:

· Should I stay on with this relationship?

· Should I make this declaration of health status?

· Should I get out of this employment?

· Should I take up this educational course?

· Should I still go on with this investment project?

· Should I establish this business?

· Should I continue staying in this neighbourhood?

· Should I proceed with this medical treatment?

· Should I move out of this country?

· Should I start this…?

· Should I stop this…?

· Should I sustain this…?

Some say, “Be strong enough to hold on if it’s worth it and strong enough to let go if it isn’t.”

While some others say, “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hold on too long.”

Rumi, a Persian poet, summed it right that “Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.”

These are wise words no doubt. But the question is “How to decide whether to persist or quit?”

Some have suggested these techniques and frameworks to decision making:

· Limit our options for a faster process

· Simply listen to our gut and feelings

· Do a limited-time trial

· Do a thought experiment

· Review the lessons and behavioural patterns of the past experiences

· Conduct a Benefit and Cost Analysis

· Conduct a Win and Loss Analysis

· Follow through the various Decision-Making Models of great leaders

These are indeed good suggestions. The uniqueness, circumstances, and encounters in each of us demand some kind of personalisation when we engage these recommendations. Again, this may not be an easy task for some of us, especially if we want to be the last man standing.


Back to Basics

So, what should we do? Stay on or get out?

There is one approach that we can consider taking when making a vital decision. My suggestion is to stay on for a while, and have a professional therapist to be involved in the process.

The role of a professional therapist is not to make decisions for their clients. Instead, the therapist’s role is to:

· be an extra pair of eyes and ears

· walk along with them on the challenging journey

· direct them to greater self-understanding

· help them to be more self-aware in terms of body, mind, and soul

· facilitate them to uncover the resources in them and available to them

· explore, analyse and evaluate what options they could consider

· lead and guide them in making the most appropriate and suitable decisions for particular moments for themselves and/or their loved ones

During my therapy sessions with my clients, I avoid the words “best decision” as this may not exist in the first place. This is because the “best” is always changing from time to time, based on our experiences, situations, and conditions which are always unique, dynamic, and fluid.

So, the “best” we could do is to assess and examine some possible factors, such as:

· What are the ultimate purposes of this particular decision?

· What is the most desirable bigger picture?

· Where is the exact direction to head towards?

· What is the possible impact and outcomes in the longer term?

· Who will be affected and involved besides us, and how much?

· What are the trade-offs if the decision made is not the most appropriate one?

· What are the possible internal and external resources available in the future?

Also, the focus in guiding my clients is on the process of making a decision, rather than what is the decision? This includes leading my clients back to the drawing board to look at their influences and conditioning through the deep-rooted beliefs, values, cultural practices, family and societal expectations and conventions, etc.

For many, it is easier to avoid making a choice and stick with the status quo, perhaps even continue adopting a Persecutor, Rescuer or Victim mentality. However, it is not about being brave or weak in such a situation. It is truly about reaching out for help when we have to make a vital decision. During such troubling moments, can we give ourselves one more chance to take a step forward? This time, with an objective peer walking along with us on the way?

The way out is in.

Thich Nhat Hanh



This article is written based on Krish Phua’s greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore “Inside Mind Insights” for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

This article was originally published on on 5 Dec 2021.

Last Man Standing

Which role do we normally play in our lives? Persecutor, Rescuer or Victim? How do we feel when playing such role(s)? More importantly, how do we know when is enough is enough?

In my previous article, “Sow a Seed”, I outlined what counselling is about and what is my ultimate goal for my clients – be their own counsellors, for the similar challenges and obstacles that they may face in the future. I will be expanding some of the themes covered in “Sow a Seed” in the following articles.

Let’s begin by highlighting the roles of Persecutor, Rescuer and Victim. Roles that we may unconsciously or, dare I say it, deliberately play.


The Drama Triangle

So, who are the Persecutor, Rescuer and Victim? What are some of their traits? And how are they intertwined?

Persecutors are typically “colour blind”. Everything to them is only black or white; no shades of grey in-between. They believe they are always right, as caused by a strong or false sense of self-entitlement. Their “righteousness” is in fact, possibly a cover-up of their anger, insecurity and vulnerability.

To be accepted and recognised, Rescuers tend to appease others at the expense of meeting their own needs and wants. They may even have difficulties in identifying their requests and desires. The enormous guilt of saying “no”, stops them expressing how actually they want to be treated.

Victims usually discount their abilities and resources, thus making themselves feel powerless and stuck. To them, life is always hard and unfair. They may even believe that they are the ones attracting misfortunes. A victim-mentality helps them to have “reasons” in coping with life’s sufferings.

This unique 3-way relationship is also known as The Drama Triangle, a model created by Dr Stephen Karpman, within the framework of Transactional Analysis.

We sure are complex, aren’t we?

Here is a quick and simplified summary of the three roles.

Do any of these traits remind you of someone in your life? Or do you identify with these descriptions as well?

The truth is, most of us are, unknowingly, Persecutors, Rescuers and Victims, one time or another.


You Need To Be You

Remember, we usually have a choice. We can lead a more balanced, healthier and happier life we were meant to live. We do not have to be a Persecutor, Rescuer or Victim. Our authentic self does not need to play any of these additional roles.

To be our authentic self, I believe we need to have three “Selves in place:

(1) Self-Awareness

Be mindful of the roles we are playing. Always make time for self-reflection, observing ourselves objectively and fairly. Learn to be conscious of what we are doing to ourselves and others.

(2) Self-Compassion

Accept that we are perfectly imperfect, always a “work-in-progress”. We should love ourselves more, but not to the point of self-indulgence that is harmful to ourselves and others.

(3) Self-Concept

Truly identify and understand what and who we are. We need to be aware of our genuine needs, wants, requests and desires deep within. This is so that we clearly know what to do with ourselves.

This self-discovery process may take a long time. However, with professional leading and guidance, it can be shortened during the process for gaining some realizations, awareness, consciousness and insights about ourselves.

During the process, we should focus on incremental changes rather than an absolute change. In my experience, I have noticed that the positive impact on my clients of an evolution (gradual development or changes over some time) tend to be much more lasting and greater, as compared to a revolution (sudden, complete, or radical change).

So, what other roles should we play, if it is not Persecutor, Rescuer or Victim?

May I suggest, be a Survivor. Let us get healed and gain the capacity and capability for being our own counsellor, ready to face those similar stressors and troubles in life!

Survivor = Be Our Own Counsellor = Last Man Standing

Instead of Last Man Standing,

it’ll be Last Man Smiling.

John Currin

Note: The word “man” used in this article refers to all genders and other demographical profiles of all individuals.




This article is written based on Krish Phua’s greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore “Inside Mind Insights” for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

This article was originally published on on 7 Nov 2021.

Sow a Seed

I want to get out of this room, I feel uncomfortable.” Mr. A (name changed for confidentiality) said to me three times during our second counselling session. Yet, he stayed, not just for the current session but subsequent sessions as well.

Mr. A’s anxiety and hesitation are understandable as counselling (used interchangeably as psychotherapy or therapy, though there are some differences among them) do sound scary to the uninitiated.

Why is this so? According to Professor Chong Siow Ann, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health, it is a process where “during our consultations, patients disclose their innermost concerns, their disconcerting fantasies and fears, their unfulfilled loves and abject failures – things they have not shared, or ever will, with another.


Discovery to Recovery

While counselling can be described as mind surgery, it is not as traumatic as it sounds. On the contrary, it is a journey of guided self-healing.

To me, under an established therapeutic alliance, counselling is a process where a therapist facilitates a client in a safe and confidential environment, uncovering the true causes of the client’s real or perceived sufferings, along with his triggers. Here, the client learns to make his own options, choices and resources on how to reflect about himself, reduce the harm, resolve or remove his issues, or even recognise the challenges with a new interpretation.

The client is also led and guided on how to take responsibility for the consequences of his informed decisions. This is an important step as the client learns to re-calibrate himself and more importantly, prepare himself to address similar challenging issues that he may face in the future.


The End Result

My ultimate goal for my clients is always for them to be their own counsellors for the similar struggles and obstacles they may have when formal counselling service is over.

Take Mr. A for example, today, he is doing very well. After his counselling sessions, he has gained vital insights about himself and his stressors and troubles. As such, he has been able to take right actions to manage his issues more effectively.

I truly believe that we can fulfil this demanding yet possible goal. How? Simply by allowing ourselves to have an opportunity to unlearn, learn and relearn those unwholesome conditions.

We believe what we believe, as we are conditioned in certain ways, since the day when we were born, growing up in a particular family, community, society and country, having certain experiences, norms and people influenced us. These shaped and moulded our beliefs, values, attitude and behaviours.

During this process of “unconditioning”, we learn how to evolve from Dependence, Co-dependence, Independence to Interdependence, in the conditions or situations of unwholesomeness to wholesomeness.

This is why, I salute and admire my clients’ courage and determination in taking the first step to discovery and recovery, when they show up in the therapy room, sharing their vulnerability and struggles unreservedly with me.

It is not easy, but it is doable. Would you like to give yourself an opportunity to sow such a seed first?

The secret is committing to that journey

and taking those first steps

with hope and belief in yourself.

Deepak Chopra




This article is written based on Krish Phua’s greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore “Inside Mind Insights” for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

This article was originally published on on 17 Oct 2021.