Spotlight Profile – Dr. Ken Fung, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Ken Fung, Clinical Psychologist
Feb 25, 2022

In this spotlight profile, we are speaking to Dr. Ken Fung, a clinical psychologist and a relationship therapist from the Jadis Blurton Family Development Center in Hong Kong. Dr. Fung was formally trained in California, USA and earned accreditation in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

As a Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Fung focuses on assisting individuals, couples and families with relational and emotional issues. Dr. Fung uses the Gottman Method, Psychodynamic, CBT and Systemic approaches in his practice which we will dive in more deeply with Dr. Fung below.

Dr. Fung, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and training?

I am a Clinical Psychologist and Relationship Therapist. My work is focused on relationships and treating or working with couples who are going through relational and/or emotional problems.

In terms of my background training and education, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in New Zealand and a Master of Social Sciences in Criminology in Hong Kong at The University of Hong Kong and also earned a Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology in USA.

Your practice focuses on the Gottman Method, Psychodynamic, CBT and Systemic approaches. What is this, can you explain what this means and how this is incorporated into your clinical practice?

So, the Gottman Method is the main method of therapy of which I focus on. This method was developed by a pair of renowned psychologists and therapists based in Seattle. This method is based on more than 40 years of research experience as to why couples work and why they don’t work. The Gottman Method focuses heavily on emotions and how people connect. This is how I frame my clinical approach – many times couples in Hong Kong do not know how to express their emotion and rather they talk cognitively and intellectually with each other with very little emotion expressed. The Gottman Method embraces a lot of emotion and that aspect of a relationship. It’s a very comprehensive model and I embrace a lot of the techniques used in the Gottman Method.

The Psychodynamic Method is one that has a very long history. This approach focuses heavily on previous life experience and on the understanding of the intra-psychic conflict and hence defenses and different attachment and relations which we have with our parents and other significant others. This method emphasizes the unconscious processes and it is a complicated and complex approach.

CBT is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and is one of the most commonly used approaches in modern psychotherapy. It is vastly symptom-oriented and the aim is to help clients alleviate their presenting symptoms and identify the factors maintaining the problems. The focus tagline of CBT is that if we change how we think, we can change how we feel.

Many individuals who are going through divorce are challenged with the emotions associated with divorce. What are some of the central themes you are experiencing in your clinical practice with those going through a divorce?

Many individuals seek counseling and psychotherapy as a last resort. It is a last resort after trying everything else. In a divorce process, there are a lot of emotions including, but not limited to anger, frustration and depression. My approach is to try to help them understand where they are in the relationship. A lot of couples think that my role is to help them get back together. However, couples’ therapy is more than that. Yes, getting back together may be one of the goals, but a key goal is to try to help individuals see what they really want in the relationship and so they could be more informed in deciding their future. Couples therapy is a tool/platform to create a safe, comfortable and natural platform for them to communicate with each other. It is a way for couples to connect emotionally because many couples have been talking intellectually but that didn’t work out so in my sessions, I help them connect emotionally.

What practical exercises can individuals do to emotionally connect and get through times of distress (eg. divorce and the Covid-19 pandemic)?

One of the key exercises I suggest to couples is to engage in “stress reducing conversation” – This requires couples to take turns to be the speaker and the listener and the key is to talk about their feelings about anything other than the relationship and relationship issues. This exercise allows the listener to emotionally engage with the speaker and vice versa. This exercise helps couples connect emotionally rather than get caught in the loop of discussion where the focus is only on the relationship and relationship issues. By talking about other things, the couple can start to rebuild healthy conversation. I also suggest that couples use “I” statements when talking about things rather than “you.” Couples should practice this every day for 15 to 20 minutes and try to make some peaceful conversation so the brain can learn that they are each capable of creating non-stressful conversation. This creates the basis for the couple to talk about something more serious.

What advice do you have for parents who are trying to co-parent amidst a divorce? What do you recommend for parents so that they can successfully navigate healthy parenting post-divorce?

First and foremost, it is important for parents to talk to each other first to try to understand each other and then to compromise. Healthy parenting post-divorce requires compromise but a lot of people misunderstand what compromise really means. Individuals think that compromise means that you have to sacrifice and give something up to please the other person but that is not compromise. Compromise can be seen as you and your partner each being a part of your own planet but you both have to come out of yours and meet halfway. In our sessions, I assist couples to identify the areas where they are flexible and where they are inflexible. Compromise can only be accomplished in the common areas identified as “flexible.” However, it’s important to recognize that before entering into successful compromise, each person needs to hear why the other person is inflexible in certain areas. A lot of inflexibility stems from a person’s upbringing and it is deeply rooted in childhood experiences so when a partner tries to move something that was so deeply rooted it’s difficult to change and that’s why it’s so important to understand where the inflexibility is coming from. Change comes after understanding.

You also work with children and the complex emotions they may feel during a divorce and the loss of “family” that they may be feeling amidst a divorce. What can parents do to bring healing and help their children communicate the complexity of emotions they may be feeling?

According to research, children as young as 6 months old can sense a parent’s emotions. A child at this young age may not know the reasons behind it but they can feel a parent’s emotions so parents need to be aware of this. What helps a child is when parents are aware of their own emotions. A parent’s emotion can be very intense even if they decide to use silence as a coping mechanism. Silence sometimes hurts more than when parents fight because silence creates a deep sense of confusion in children. My first suggestion is to not assume that the child(ren) do not know what is going on and instead try to be genuine in terms of your emotions. Emotions are powerful and parents can decide the depth of details they wish to share with a child with respect to the problems they are having and wisdom should be used by a parent when it comes to sharing such details. However, when it comes to emotions, a parent should be genuine with the child. If you’re not happy, you can tell your child you are unhappy but not necessarily have to disclose what exactly happened in terms of details.

You created an online platform called “Your Relationship Clinic” on social media. Can you tell us more about this platform and how you are helping individuals through this online platform?

The “Your Relationship Clinic” was a platform I created in 2013 on Facebook. As time went on, I wanted to reach out more to the younger generation in Hong Kong and I switched the platform to run on Instagram. This is a platform where I share a lot of information and thoughts as a psychologist and a relationship therapist on issues related to relationships. Rather than focusing on academic research, I value sentimental and emotional perspective to allow me to interact more closely with my followers. Each day I run a Q & A and am there to listen to those going through difficulties and my role is to help them understand that there are people out there willing to listen. My platform is run in Chinese but English speakers can also reach out to me should they have any questions or concerns or wish to have a listening ear. My Instagram can be found at @yrrelationshipclinic.

About Dr. Ken Fung, Clinical Psychologist:

Dr. Fung is a Clinical Psychologist and focuses on helping individuals, couples and families with relational and emotional issues using the Gottman Method, Psychodynamic, CBT and Systemic approaches.

Dr. Fung graduated with a Doctor of Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, USA and he also received a Master of Social Science from The University of Hong Kong and Bachelor of Sciences from The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Apart from his role as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Fung is the creator of the platform “Your Relationship Clinic”, an interactive channel allowing open discussion and emotional support to traditional Chinese-speaking individuals with relationship issues they may have with partners, family members, friends, colleagues and pets.

Dr. Fung’s practice emphasizes the importance of communication as a tool to meet expectations but also a vehicle to express genuine emotions through the establishment of a “safe space.”

Dr. Fung is based in Hong Kong and his clinic is located at the Jadis Blurton Family Development Center.

Telephone : (852) 9157 6719