Chao Zhao, MA, ATR-P
Child, Adult & Couples Therapist
Language: English & Mandarin
Sliding Scale: Available
Insurance: Cigna in-network & can provide superbill for PPO plans
Accepting New Clients: Yes
- Anxiety & Stress Management
- Art Therapy
- Asian & Immigrant Experience
- Burnout & Perfectionism
- Grief & Loss
Hi! My name is Chao! I’m glad you are here.
Therapy with me means meeting you where you are.
Maybe you are here because you feel like you have been feeling stuck and wish for something more authentic for your life. Maybe you are on a quest to find yourself. Perhaps you may have been living a life that doesn’t feel like yours.
The good news is that with the right guidance and support, you can start the journey of finding yourself and exploring who you are truly meant to be. To find a life that feels aligned with your deepest desires and values, explores within, and that’s where I step in.
I am here to provide guidance and help you to connect with what you are looking for in this journey of life. Life is filled with ups and downs and it’s never easy. We have pleasant times and unpleasant ones that we experience throughout life. It’s part of being human. However, with me by your side you will find non-judgmental and compassionate support and understanding needed to make the necessary changes and to grow for the better.
Therapy is a personal, individualized experience; no two sessions or clients are the same. I take a unique approach to your specific challenges, and we will work together to unravel your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. We will seek to understand the roots of the struggles in your life and develop a variety of tools you can use going forward.
Therapy for Life Transitions, Immigrant Experience, Grief & Loss
Life is great and life can be tricky a lot of times. We are like audiences watching a mysterious drama show not knowing what is going to happen the next second. Most of the time, you hold your breath, as carefully as you can to live everyday, however, life transitions love to show up mysteriously and make you astonished.
Suddenly, you could lose a job, move to a city or country, you have a fight with your partner, break up, or find out one of your family members has health issues or is struggling with terminal illness.
You have always had your dreams, your goals, and your potentials. You wanted to reach them but somehow there was something blocking you, so you made a decision to go abroad, studying or living in another country, make a career transition, fall in love with someone, and even start a new life. Being an immigrant was so beautiful when thinking about it; when language barriers or cultural differences get in the way, being an immigrant can be lonely and scary! You are not alone! I have been there.
In those examples, you may find a tiny bit of yourself or a big chunk of your experiences. It indeed sounds tough. However, I will invite you to discover your long-forgotten strengths in you, reconnect with your authentic self, uncover meanings, hopes, and purpose in your life. No matter what life throws at you, we can grieve together, we may cry together, then we can wipe off the tears and smile again!
Therapy for Anxiety, Burnout, & Imposter Syndrome
You have made it. You have finished school, landed the job, the apartment, or the house. You may have even found “the one” (or still wonder if they are “the one”) and have settled down. Overall, you may have been playing the role of a good daughter/son, friend, partner, or parent.
On the outside, things seem to be going well. You are accomplished and successful, living “the dream” and have achieved everything you worked hard for.
On the inside, it’s a different story. You often feel overwhelmed. You know you value family, friends, education, and work, however, something does not feel quite aligned. You might feel unhappy at work, have lost interest in your daily hobbies or activities, or spend time with others somehow feeling a little bit off. You are sure where to find your sense of self in the world and feel like how you come off outside does not align with how you feel on the inside. You may feel unworthy of love, help, or time. You don’t know how you got here when everything seems to be going so well.
If you relate to these feelings, you may be experiencing anxiety, stress, burnout, or imposter syndrome. It is often tough to speak to others including your most trusted friends and family about these issues. The biggest challenge is to be able to feel safe enough to share your thoughts and feelings with someone. Seeking out a trusted therapist can be the first courageous step you can take toward becoming more aligned with who you are outside and inside. Helping you live a life that feels more balanced and authentic.
Together we can build a relationship based on trust and safety. It is okay to feel scared, lost, isolated, and unsure. You are not alone in these feelings. Connecting and building a relationship with a trusted therapist can help you begin to unravel the constant fears and worries. Together, we can start to slow down your world and find the deeper emotions and meanings behind your struggles. Finding the root causes of your anxiety, stress, and negative feelings will help us begin to explore these experiences collaboratively. We will work to develop a set of coping techniques so that you can manage your anxiety and begin to find peace and acceptance.
Culturally Sensitive & LGBTQIA+ affirming Therapy
As a multiculturally sensitive, immigrant, trauma-informed, LGBTQIA+ affirming Asian American therapist, I understand the complexities in navigating different cultures and expectations. It is difficult to find your true identity in a bicultural or multicultural family or as an immigrant, Asian American, or as a person of color. You are constantly between cultures, values, and sets of norms. Navigating languages, social and familial obligations, and responsibilities can be exhausting. There are a lot of nuances of finding who you truly are apart from our familial expectations and culture, not feeling sure if you belong, and frustration of how people perceive you differently than you feel inside. I understand the feeling of not knowing where the intersectional identities belong in this world. But I am here to say that starting the process of finding a life that feels more aligned with who you are inside is possible. Truly reclaiming and celebrating all of your identities is possible.
When you are looking for your place in this world and need someone to talk to and depend on, it would be my privilege and honor to be a part of your journey toward finding hope and healing.
Therapy for Children, Teens, & Families
We were all once children. No matter how you were growing up, watching your child grow up is an incredible and rewarding journey as a parent. You have never been happier than when your child learns, grows, and succeeds. You have also never been more upset when your child struggles. Lately, you have noticed your child or teen is struggling more than usual. It might be school stressors, social stressors, or problems you cannot find the cause because they won’t communicate with you. As a parent, this is very stressful and painful.
Building a trusted relationship with an understanding therapist can be a step towards helping your child and family. As a parent myself and a therapist for children, teens, and families, I can help you and your child or teen find support and guidance in navigating life’s challenges. From depression, anxiety, ADHD, perfectionism or procrastination, social phobias, friendship building, low self-esteem, grief/loss, and more, today’s children and teens can face many serious challenges and need help developing coping skills.
In therapy, I create a safe and nurturing space for your child. I will invite your child to practice and eventually to gain the courage to share any thoughts that they once felt uncomfortable sharing with their family. Together we will begin to identify their emotions, feelings, and strengths, as well as the challenges they are currently facing. I will help guide them to break negative behavior patterns, and focus on using their strengths to build positive, foundational coping skills they can use for the rest of their lives.
I also offer family therapy. Navigating your current family dynamic can be challenging, as every family falls into behavioral patterns. Some are helpful, some are creating more chaos, and some we are not even aware of. Every event and situation that family is going through can affect each member of your family differently. It is not easy to realize the impact of our daily actions have on other household members. It is vital to find a trusted, experienced therapist to find the balance in your family. A therapist can help you understand each other and navigate the challenges you face while working towards a healthier dynamic—-the self-regulating and balanced homeostasis stage.
I want to share one of my favorite quotes with you from Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be a reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Therapy with Me
With some tears, with some laughters, with just right amount of challenging, with a whole lot of acceptance, and perhaps with some creativity, you will find your courage to live an authentic life that is aligned with your values.
I provide a non-judgmental space for you to begin self-exploration and reflection. Together we will embark on a fun, eye-opening, and exciting journey to understand and find the path for yourself. Previous clients have described me as empathetic and calm, challenging and transparent at the same time, somehow who helped them reach their potential..
I have specialized training and years of hands on experiences in using Attachment-based Approach, Psychodynamic, Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT), Narrative, Family Systems, Solution-Focused, Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Art Therapy with children, couples, and families in California school system, non-profit organization, community clinic, private practice, and juvenile hall. I am an Art Therapist and can integrate art therapy techniques if that is a desire of yours in our sessions. Art Therapy can open up a way for you to find deeper healing and guidance that wasn’t possible through talking.
Our work can be holistic or a combination of creativity and evidence-based approach to meet your needs. Therapy is an individualized and collaborative process. We may not have all the answers to life, but we can still work together to find more connection to ourselves and others, and life’s purpose and meaning. Along the way, you will discover your truths through self-exploration and empowerment. I believe that you are capable of finding the solutions within the wisdom you already possess. I do not see you as broken or in need of help or fixing. I see you as reaching for healing, opening up for growth, and receptive to a new perspective, so here I am to witness and listen.
A little bit more about me…
Ever since I can remember, I had a passion for art, human behavior, and psychology. I spent my childhood in China following the life path that I thought I should to set me up for a stable life and honor my family. I studied marketing and management and had a successful career in financial planning and banking. I worked with many people whose lives seemed perfect from the outside, but I witnessed countless emotional struggles that prevented them from feeling fulfilled even after reaching their financial goals.
Year after year, I carried the weight of my clients’ emotional struggles. I cared about them deeply but I didn’t know what self-care was, so I started to question the meaning of life. The pivotal point in my life was seeing my mother being a healthcare professional her whole life but dealt with her mental health issues and complex grief with only medication, she had no other professionals to open up to except to close herself off. I felt a huge pressure and motivation at the same time. My curiosity and passion to strive pushed me to keep digging and questioning, I told myself there must be a healthier way that we all can live more fulfilled lives.
After contemplating, I made a difficult but courageous decision to transition to pursue a career to help people find more meaningful connections in their lives. That led me to a Marriage and Family Therapy career with a specialization in Art Therapy. Of course, I have lost something on the way here, however, I have gained a lot more than I expected! I can say from the bottom of my heart that I am grateful and fulfilled to be here today. I want you to feel the growth and the healing power too. Together, we can be better tomorrow.
Outside of being a therapist, I enjoy spending time with my family, especially making art together. I also enjoy going on a run, spending time outdoors, reading, dancing, and practicing yoga.
Every story has a place to tell and every soul or body deserves a place to heal. You don’t have to struggle alone anymore. Help is here. It would be my privilege to get to know your story, help you find healing, and walk alongside you on the journey called life.
Registered California Board of Behavioral Sciences Number: AMFT 126562
Supervised by Yasuno Yoshizawa, LMFT 112040