4 Therapy Principles from “Crazy Rich Asians” (Part 1)

Eleanor Young

Photo Credit: ABS-CBN News (featured photo credit: TED Blog)

Crazy Rich Asians has been one of the best films of the year, perhaps of the decade. Seen it yet?

Imperfect as it is, I think it’s still one of the best for a million reasons but especially for its representation of minority communities. From my first impression, here’s just one theme from CRA that could reboot your therapy space today (catch my post next week for Part 2):


  1. Connection

For marginalized identities, if there’s a scene in film history that represents our yearning for a shift in power dynamic, the “last-shall-be-first” kind of shift, this lands in my top 3.

OPENING SCENE: London in the 90s, late in the evening, exhausted, Eleanor Young comes in from the pouring rain with her children, notifies the hotel staff she’s ready to check into her luxury suite.

She reminds them politely, “We spoke on the phone yesterday and I was told everything was ready, thank you :)”

The staff assures her she must be mistaken. No vacancies. “You might have better luck in Chinatown.” [as an Asian American Adoptee, I tear up even as I’m writing this]

After several exchanges, Eleanor asks to use the phone inside the hotel, next scene we find her in a phone booth outside the hotel, with her family packed inside with her, still raining.

She comes back in from the rain. “Ma’am, you’re going to have to leave or we’ll need to call the police.” 

We’ll need to call the police?? Elevator bell rings. The hotel manager, like, the top guy, rushes with arms out toward Eleanor with a warm hug and bright smile, “Eleanor!!! So glad you’re here!!!” He orders the staff, “Prepare the suite.”

They can’t believe it, “Sir? You’ve got to be kidding.” 

“I’m selling the hotel chain, Ms. Young and her family have bought it, she’s the new owner and manager. Prepare the suite.”


Ahhhh so many reasons why this scene just completely kills it!!!! I’m choked up in the theater. The depth and complexity and struggle reaches me on so many levels. Immediately I’m rooting for her, to some degree, for the rest of the story.

That’s connection.

Have you ever felt that with someone?

It helps me understand a bit more about why Eleanor does what she does for the rest of the film. Not entirely. But some. And it’d be real tough to convince me to completely write her off as the villain. If she were a client, it’d help me feel with her. That’s restorative. Sometimes, just knowing someone is with you is all it takes to reframe your life. 

Some of our clients have been to hell and back. Some of them are going through it right now. Is there any of that you could connect with? What part of it feels familiar for youUse your clinical judgment, but allow it to fuel that therapeutic alliance! 

“Where in my client’s story have I ever found myself?”

“Which scene in his life speaks to me?”

“How does their struggle meet face to face with mine?”

“What’s our power dynamic like? Does it need to shift?”

There’s universality in all your relationships. Find it! 

What have you found helpful in connecting with your clients?

Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!


2 thoughts on “4 Therapy Principles from “Crazy Rich Asians” (Part 1)

  1. Loved it 😀


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