Hello. My name is Joseph Lee and I am a Psychiatrist in private practice in the South Bay of Southern California. Over the now twenty or so years of my career, my perspective has incrementally expanded its focus, looking beyond merely the improvement of symptoms at the worst times in life, towards a goal that is much more ambitious — achieving optimal mental healthiness.
This aim is helpful for the whole range of health, from sickness to no longer sick to healthy to thriving.
The goals set are not just resolution of problems, but ongoing personal growth, wellbeing, relatedness, and authenticity.
Science. Experience. Intuition.
My perspective is shaped by a truth-based lens, learned from empirical scientific research, our shared human experience, and the reliable and honed intuition of those in and outside of the mental health field as well as my own.
Empirical Scientific Research – “This makes sense.” In addition to my formal medical school and residency training in Psychiatry at UCLA, my post residency learning has been influenced by Daniel Siegel’s Interpersonal Neurobiology, Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication, as well as Positive Psychology, Emotions research, and other fascinating discoveries of modern Neuroscience. I am always still learning.
Our Shared Human Experience – “This feels right.” As human beings, ever since the beginning of adolescence, our beliefs, behaviors, and expectations are filtered first through our own lived experience. I’m no different. My own personal lens is most influenced by the meaningful relationships in my life, my evolving spiritual beliefs, and my cultural and racial identity that is simultaneously American and that of an Asian person of color.
To minimize my own implicit biases, I’ve also made efforts to connect with those whose life experiences are not the same as mine. This diversity of experience and intersectional approach has only helped to expand my relatedness and empathy towards others. Though I am a cis-heterosexual neurotypical male, I am fully LGBTQIA+ affirming, neurodiversity affirming, and am a feminist.
I’m intentional about sharing these views because empirical scientific research tells us that therapists in general aren’t validating enough regarding people’s spiritual, cultural, racial, gender, and sexual identities to keep most people in therapy. Being welcoming and accepting of the full spectrum of human diversity is crucial for the collaborative process of personal growth.
Reliable Intuition – “This rings true.” From a neuroscience perspective, intuition is not a “low” level gut feeling, but is actually the synthesis of our highest mental abilities. It brings together our cumulative knowledge, our core competencies, both social and emotional intelligence, the default human tendency to look towards the future, and all of our analytical and rational reasoning. It’s the intersection of what “makes sense” and “feels right.” When we listen to the intuition of experts in their particular fields, we are pointed towards concepts worth reflecting on.
Being open to these types of ideas also allows us to step outside the limits of scientific study, and deepen our own awareness of ourselves and others — through art, literature, history, design, philosophy, and religion.
When science, human experience, and intuition all point to the same thing, then we can be sure that our beliefs are grounded in something truthful. I try to draw on all these sources to find what is universally and inherently authentic.
What Do I Do?
My daily professional work is divided into two parts:
One is my psychotherapy focused practice with these “mental healthiness” principles integrated into the collaborative work I do with clients.
What’s the Difference Between Mental Health and Mental Healthiness?
Psychiatry and Mental Healthiness
Mental Health Month: Healthiness and Dysfunction
Second is the role as a speaker and educator on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and its many real world applications, including parenting, the workplace, cultural and racial identity, and spirituality. This includes both writing and speaking to parents, educators, designers, faith communities, and professional colleagues. I also provide individual and group supervision to licensed therapists looking to add mental healthiness and SEL principles to their own practices.
Please contact me if you are interested in a consultation, clinical supervision, seminars/workshops, or speaking opportunities. You can also subscribe to my mailing list to receive insights about healthiness and wellbeing.
Image credit: Shutterstock
I just saw your recording about empathy at the EdNextGen. I wanted to congratulate you on your work, and as well thank you for sharing your knowledge! I learned so much while hearing you and I’m so excited to start practicing to achieve empathy as a core skill in my daily life. I hope you all the best.
Truly inspiring overview on the value of active practice of empathy in our lives.