Age || 30
Company Name || Grace Suh therapy
Job Title || Therapist/ Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)
Company Start Date || July 2019
Years Living In New York || 19
Social Handles || @gracesuhtherapy
Company Website || Grace Suh therapy
What did you want to be while growing up?
A fashion model, then any type of Influential (like being on The 100 most influential people list).
What’s the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting out?
Just do it, why not.
How do you define success?
Being able to do what you love, inspiring self and others, make small and big changes in our society, and still be able to support yourself.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since preparing for your practice?
That I am an adult. A REAL FULL BLOWN ADULT, who need to make decisions alone and own up to it entirely.
What is your go-to motivational quote?
“There are seasons for everything.” This quote humbles me when I’m achieving/succeeding, and gives me courage/strengths when I’m faced with challenges.
What made you interested in pursuing a career in the mental health field?
A word of affirmation and validation can change lives. It surely did for me. I never heard anyone say this to me until my junior year in high school. My guidance counselor said, “Grace you can do it and you can become anything you want.” This validation helped a little girl who immigrated at the age of 11 from South Korea, who did not know even basic english, to be accepted to prestigious universities (Columbia, UPenn, NYU), pursue a masters program, make commitments as a therapist intern, and aspired to be a current licensed therapist. I take pride in my own story and all the stages that I went through to be here today — it’s been a journey. Just like me, some people really need to be validated that, “YOU ARE ENOUGH,” “YOU CAN DO IT,” “YOU DON’T DESERVE THAT,” “THAT MUST HAVE HURT” to press forward in life.
Why did you choose to strike out on your own?
To be inspired and to inspire. To learn and grow. To overcome and achieve. To seed and harvest.
Do you have a personal motto?
It changes over time but my current one is, “Are you showing up in your life?” This echoes deeply in my heart and asks whether I’m fully showing up, being present, sitting in my life here and now.
Which women inspire you?
ALL WOMEN. WOMEN IN ALL STAGES AND IN ALL SEASONS.
For example: A mom who gave up on her career is equally inspiring as to a mom who is working a full time job. They all have their stories and I want to hear from them.
How do you overcome moments of self-doubt?
I normalize it. I say it to myself, “Of course I doubt! I’m only a human. Imperfect and uncertain and that is perfectly normal.”
What is the hardest part about being your own boss?
Like mentioned earlier, I need to take responsibility on every level of decisions. But I also give myself a credit for being brave and courageous in taking risks.
How do you handle situations where you feel overwhelmed?
I believe in balance. I take care of myself spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally to ensure that I’m fully showing up in my life. In order to fully enjoy here and now, I assess if I need to establish some boundaries from relationships, other commitments, and even work to live a balanced life. If I find that I’m doing way too much on one thing over the other, I do my best to say no to others and things that are tipping me over the balance. It’s work in progress.
How have you worked to keep female empowerment at the core of your work?
Raising awareness that, let’s not be fooled folks! Sexism still exists. Privileges still exists. But, we need to speak even if our voice shakes, as activist, Maggie Kuhn said.
What advice would you give to other women trying to enter your field?
There’s no right or wrong. There’s no answer. There’s no failure. Just do it and learn and grow from it.
What can a person gain from therapy sessions with you?
Gain insight, discover inner strengths through empathy and acceptance. If you have been voluntarily or involuntarily wearing masks to please others and yourself, I sit with difficult emotions and REAL YOU to help them take off masks from shame. If you’re wearing a mask only your mask gets loved, as author John Lynch says in the book The Cure. Often times, you can feel worse after therapy and that’s OK. It is a sign of progress in taking off the mask.
What do you wish people were more aware of when it comes to mental health?
It is okay to admit that you are struggling and need professional help. Shame thrives in silence.
What is your creative process like?
I need to be inspired by something or someone. Being inspired by positive changes that are made through small conversations, small acts of courage in making small and big changes in our society as whole.
What are some of your goals moving forward for your practice?
I don’t have any specifics. But I will faithfully follow the road of taking small steps towards making small and big positive changes in our society. The place where we all need a sense of validations of “RELAX. I AM ENOUGH. I AM WORTHY. I CAN DO IT.” Only if people live through this, the world will probably be a different place to live in.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.