“The heart of my life is travel, a journey,” says Sumi Hong, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), AAMFT Approved Supervisor Candidate and mindfulness practitioner who has her own private practice in Georgia.
Sumi’s journey began in Korea, where she was born and raised before moving to Japan and later, the United States. In the U.S., she earned her undergraduate degree in International Studies at Old Dominion University and her master’s in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University. In between earning her degrees, Sumi spent time living in California and Toronto, Canada, always learning and observing local cultures.
Sumi utilizes her diverse background in her work as a therapist. “Meeting new people and experiencing new cultures has helped me prioritize diversity and cultural sensitivity in my work and my life,” she explains.
She also has seen firsthand how, despite cultural differences, there is a clear, universally human experience we all undergo.
“It has been wonderful to find what we all have in common,” Sumi says. “Love. Forgiveness. Affection. Anger. In a way, we all treat our feelings in very similar ways.”
In addition to Sumi’s international experiences, it was her journey into parenthood that greatly influenced her decision to choose a career in mental health.
“Motherhood taught me the importance of patience, compassion, and mutual understanding. It was a wondrous experience to see this little being’s development every day,” Sumi says.
However, she also experienced a lot of fear and self-doubt, which drove her into deep self-reflection.
“I was overwhelmed by this new experience of being a mother. Eventually, I decided to go back to graduate school and study Counseling Psychology in order to understand human behaviors and development,” explains Sumi. “It was a humble journey, beginning out of my own curiosity.”
She has now been in practice for 10 years and has received additional training in Mindfulness, Sand/Play Therapy and Anger Management. Sumi works with children, teens and adults, specializing in those who are struggling with adjustment issues, communication difficulties, searching for meaning or reconnecting with family during different life stages.
One unique aspect to Sumi’s work is her ability to blend Eastern ideas into the Western world.
As a personal practice, she begins her day with meditation followed by 108 bows. Her day ends with journaling. Professionally, she integrates Eastern philosophy and spirituality, including Confucianism, Zen Buddhism and Taoism, into her work with clients.
“Ying and yang. Pros and cons. Plus and minus,” she explains. “It’s all about harmony.”
Additionally, Sumi is bi-lingual, conducting therapy in both her native Korean language, as well as in English. She loves that remote therapy has made it possible to connect with clients throughout the United States in search of a Korean-speaking therapist.
As a supervisor, Sumi sees her role in four distinct ways: mentor, teacher, administrator, coach. She aims to fluidly move between those different roles, depending on what the pre-licensed therapist wants and needs at that time.
“I am hardcore client-centered, as a humanistic therapist,” asserts Sumi. “So in supervision, I’m supervisee-centered.”
One thing that always remains a top priority for Sumi’s supervision efforts, however, is the self-of-therapist.
“I want supervisees to know who they are before they start engaging with others,” Sumi explains. When it comes to helping them develop self-awareness, Sumi takes a gentle, collaborative approach. She prefers to ask questions rather than make statements, guiding supervisees to explore their inner selves.
“Strong resistance is often denial, so I gently push on those areas with questions,” Sumi says, always being mindful of the balance between offering supporting and posing a challenge to go deeper.
“If someone wants to have a very strict or evaluator-focused type of supervisor, it’s not me,” suggests Sumi. “I don’t like to judge people or give much advice. I like to go on a journey together.”
Similarly to how tele-therapy expanded her reach and improved access to Korean-speaking services, Sumi, who learned of Motivo from her former supervisor, Dr. Carla Smith, is excited about how supervision online can build bigger, more diverse networks. “I thought what a wonderful idea to be part of an online supervision community. After all, we need each other to seek more knowledge, support and understanding,” she says
We’d love to introduce you to Sumi through a free, 30-minute video call. Click here to let us know if you’re interested in connecting with her or one of our Motivo team members.
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