Dr. Hei Kyong Kim
By KIM HWANG
AAP staff writer
ST. PAUL (Nov. 7, 20110) — In the previous addition of the Asian American Press, Dr. Mee Ock Park, Marriage and Family Therapist and Psychologist, was featured for the warrior work she does every day with the Korean Community in Minnesota.
Dr. Park’s work with Korean immigrants helps individuals and family’s cope with and deal with the every day stress of life. As a psychologist, Korean immigrants and/or Koreans in Minnesota, obtain services towards obtaining increased mental health and building a healthy cultural identity as well.
In this three part series of featuring mental health practioners of Korean descent, I would like to introduce Dr. Hei Kyong Kim, a Korean American therapist, who provides mental health therapy and counseling to clients of color at the Indian Health Board (IHB) located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Kim began her work at IHB through her post-doctoral work and on her journey toward obtaining a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology.
After receiving a doctorate in clinical psychology, she chose to stay at the Indian Health Board because she felt the organizations mission fit well with her personal values. Dr. Kim has many professional interests. She enjoys working with clients who have been adopted and live in bi-racial families, working with individuals and families in the foster care systems and clients who are struggling with attachment issues. Her professional aspirations are broad and multidisciplinary.
Dr. Kim was born in Seoul, Korea in 1975. She has lived in the United States for 36 years and identifies as both Korean American and Asian American. Dr. Kim has a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in counseling psychology and a doctorate degree in clinical psychology. In addition to these accomplishments, she has six children who she is actively involved with, from 5 to 17 years old. Her busy and successful life, allow her to offer up quality services as a therapist who understands issues related to racial diversity.
Immediately upon starting at the Indian Health Board as a post-doctoral therapist, Dr. Kim realized that it was a perfect match for the kind of clinical and holistic work she aspired to do with clients. Dr. Kim holds a strong belief that urban clinicians have wonderful opportunities to approach mental healthcare through a multicultural and culturally proficient lens.
Dr. Kim is deeply committed to organizations, whose grassroots efforts are to help others who may not have easy access to affordable mental health care. She is overwhelmingly committed to working with people of color and clients from diverse ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.
She is passionate about working with people from diverse ethnic backgrounds because she identifies with some of the same struggles and hardships that her clients are going through. Her passion to help others stems from her experiences of negative racial and ethnocentric attitudes that she has endured throughout her childhood and young life, as a Korean adoptee.
Dr. Kim transforms obstacles she has experienced into deep empathy and understanding for herself and others. In doing this, she is able to provide therapy for clients of color that is unique and culturally sensitive. Her therapeutic approach is rooted in a form of individualized care that respects each person as an ethnic individual that is capable of healing through guided help.
As a Korean adoptee, Dr. Kim draws strength from professional peers and people of color who have taught her a sense of internal pride that was missing through much of her childhood. In 2010, she proudly represented the Minnesota Psychological Association, as a Diversity Delegate in Washington D.C.
She lobbied on Capitol Hill, advocating for others who were unable to advocate for themselves. Her work as a Diversity Delegate was featured in the MPA newsletter, as well as the American Psychological Association, Division 31 Website.
“I understand what it may be like to be invisible, stereotyped and misunderstood as an Asian woman, mother and professional,” Dr. Kim said. “I strongly believe that clients need the opportunity to share their narrative accounts, towards healing. It is my goal to offer a safe place where clients, from diverse backgrounds are able heal and move toward a more promising future.”
As Dr. Kim continues her professional and clinical work she hopes to focus specifically on multicultural counseling, complex posttraumatic stress disorders and bereavement, reactive-attachment disorders, adoption/foster care issues and developmental trauma disorder. Although the Indian Health Board has a strong commitment to helping Native American communities, she is inclusive in practice and sees clients from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds.
“Even though there are not a lot of international adoptees that come to the clinic, many of the adults and children clients have been adopted (transracially or same-race),” Kim said.
Her work with foster care systems has been helpful in making connections between the similarities and differences within different racial and cultural adoptive and foster care communities. Kim understands the consequences of White racism and that having a therapist of color may hopefully help to confront some of the racism that is too often minimized and overlooked.
She realizes that fundamentally, clients of color have more obstacles than some White clients, in that White racism is complex and presents itself in every aspect of a person of color’s life. She works vehemently to expand her knowledge base towards increasing cultural awareness towards decreasing the likelihood of clients having to re-experience racism in the clinical setting.
Whether she is doing therapy in her office in Minneapolis or lobbying up on Capitol Hill, Dr. Kim is clear about two things. One, she is determined to continue her work at the Indian Health Board’s towards fulfilling their mission, which is, “to ensure quality health care services for American Indian and other peoples, IHB promotes three core values: Respect for Culture: Preserving and promoting its Native American heritage and identity, while embracing all other cultures with acceptance and compassion; Excellence: Seeking excellence in all its services, business practices and community partnerships; Leadership: Promoting ethical leadership based on collaboration and mutual respect.” Second, to live a full life, which allows her to invest in family, friends and community.
She proudly serves IHB which serves over 7,000 clients a year. The broad range of services offered can be viewed at: ihb-mpls.org.