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


Did you see it yet!!!??

Last week I shared the first of “4 Therapy Principles from ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (Part 1)”

Initial first impressions that gripped my heart during the movie; inspired me to think about how they’d shape a client’s experience in my therapy space. My hope is they’d inspire experiences in yours.

My first point was about connection. For the rest I realized I had like a million words and it was way too long to publish in one post. So, here’s Part 2:


2) Family therapy is messy, accept the invite anyway!!!

Nick Young and Rachel Chu are in love. His mom hates her. He’s caught in a bind. Will he appease his family and leave Rachel…? Or… will he pursue his love and forgo his destiny as heir to the Young family fortune? And what about Rachel’s dilemma? Add eccentric and endearing family and friends and bam we’ve got the “most successful studio rom com in 9 years” and a family that scares people away. Our job is to get closer.

I love that scene when Peik Lin (played by Awkwafina) brings Rachel to the Young residence for the first time. That party! She pulls up and gets invited in.

After declining politely a couple times she’s like, “yeah I’ll f**k’n go to dinner!!”

Family therapy is kinda like that for me.

Photo credit: Sonoma-Index Tribune

She considers it an honor. I’m not trying to go in and rearrange furniture or tell people to get out. Or take selfies. I’m just there, eager to be with them. Appreciating everyone. Meeting folks for the first time. Asking questions.

They show me around.

When I first wanted to marry my wife, I had some hard stuff to work out with her parents. They’re now living with us temporarily to help with our newborn (thank you God for this!!!!). We’re so grateful! And we’re actually sleeping!

And we’ve started to notice what it’s like to have such contrasting world-views happening in the same space.

In all our families, we’ve got multiple generations of patterns happening all at once.

People get too close. People don’t get close enough. Too loud. Too quiet. Too involved. Too distant. Triangles. Gossip. There’s some kind of sacrifice that someone refuses to make (I’m guilty). Everyone suffers because of it. Or maybe there’s a bunch of people in the family who refuse to see or address an urgent need or make a necessary change, which means chronic suffering, sometimes torture, for just one individual person (I’m guilty again). Makes their life completely miserable. But no one sees it. Or they ignore it. Part of our job as helpers is to be invited in, be shown around, and then gently yet effectively help people see.

Take the attitude of a guest.

At first. And then, even when they do see, it’s about helping everyone in the family decide what, if, and when they want to change what they see.

3) Purpose changes everything. 

This is way too important to miss!!!! In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, concludes,

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” 

Did you get that? If you have a purpose in life, you can endure pretty much anything.

Simple example, because Jesus loved his bride, the church, he endured a crucifixion.

Rachel was able to express her love through sacrifice. And because he reeeeeeeeeeeally loves her, Nick Young decides to forfeit his position as heir to all the wealth and material riches of his family in Singapore to pursue Rachel and return with her to NY, to America where people are starving.

Photo credit: blog.angryasianman.com

Some of our clients are enduring something ridiculously painful without a “why.” I’ll speak to that more in-depth in a future post. But for now, think of someone on your caseload who needs to clarify their “why,” even if nothing changed externally about their situation. And think of all the unlocked possibilities that could happen externally if they did this internal work!! Purpose makes all the difference.

4. Plots. It’s helpful to get familiar with these 7 Basic Plots:

7 basic plots
Photo credit: wikipedia

Are any of these happening for your clients right now? Nick and Rachel need to overcome something or someone. Eleanor and grandmother? Tradition? Racism and discrimination?

Rags to riches and rebirth are my favorites right now.

Transformation, becoming something new, love it. Back to the Future is a Voyage and Return. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Avengers, almost any movie or story has one or more of these plots running through its veins. When our clients consider their narratives through plots and storylines, they start to realize patterns, problems, motives, language, lies and truth for the first time or maybe even the millionth time.

We can then make a plan together and they get to decide “why” and “how” to take action in their story.

Rachel takes action. That Mahjong game! Eleanor takes action. Her ring!!! So good!!!

Okay so there’s so much more I’d love to share, but let’s take a moment for these themes to brew if you saw the film. What were some take aways for you? Which themes from the film would you apply to your own therapy practice?

Leave a comment and share it with us!!

*Featured photo credit: Vanity Fair





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