Spotlight Profile – Man B.W. CHUNG, Marriage Counselor, Parenting Coordinator and Accredited Family Mediation Supervisor

Man Chung
6 月 16, 2023

In this spotlight profile, we are speaking to Man B.W. Chung, a marriage counselor, parenting coordinator and accredited family mediation supervisor in a NGO in Hong Kong.  In her capacity of playing the role, Ms. Chung handles over 40 mediation cases and 20 child-intervention cases in a year.

Ms. Chung, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. 

Thank you for inviting me.

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

I am a social worker and I have been working with youngsters since I was graduated.  I have furthered my study in the area of Family Mediation and Family Therapy and have worked in the area of divorce in recent years.  I am practicing the Therapeutic Family Mediation Approach and making use of Child-inclusive Mediation Model in conducting family works in restoring family functioning whilst they are in turmoil of the marriage.

Let’s first dive into your work as a marriage counselor.  What are some of the central themes/issues that you are seeing in couples after three (3) very difficult years of living with the Covid-19 pandemic?

I could respond with the word “challenging” to describe the post-pandemic era.  We all know that the lockdown situation posed high pressure to people in Hong Kong, which then aroused conflict within family members.  Along with the waves of emigration after these social incidents, some couples have had trouble possessing similar points of view or expectation towards their future.  As a result, I have come across divorce cases where there is fierce conflict or talks about “leave or stay” as well as the relocation of children.  We can foresee that the divorce rate could break the record high this year.

What practical advice do you see yourself giving to couples who are going through marriage difficulties right now? What can they do re-ignite the love and passion in their marriage and get through difficulties?

It is understandable that couples facing difficulties would tend to quit as they are usually on the verge of emotional outburst or being disconnected in their relationship.  In my daily practice, couples usually see marriage with a myth that divorce could end every problematic situation.  I could respond to them that, divorce brings another set of problems for us to face.  The accountable solutions may be resolving the problem or enhancing problem solving skills instead.

Couples have their own past history that they cherish and their yearning of attachment to each other.  In other words, they have their own positive communication channel inside.  Our responsibility is to remove the communication blockages between them by encouraging them listen to each other, try to feel others’ emotion inside and allow them to share their own vulnerability.  Sometimes, they only need others’ understanding and acknowledgment.

I always suggest couples seek professional assistance as early as they can, before the relationship becomes frozen or there is too much hatred aroused.

What is the difference between your work as a marriage counselor and as a family mediator?

A marriage counselor would aim at reconciliation in a couples’ relationship and a family mediator would aim at resolving disputes while the couple decided to divorce.   It seems that the two services are working towards two directions but our service delivery is at the cross-section of the two domains.  We could see, firstly, that the divorce decision is a dynamic that could potentially be reversed upon intervention with mediation or counseling.  Secondly, the practice of Therapeutic Family Mediation is also an aim at rebuilding couples’ relationship to a reasonable level that facilitates a communicable co-parenting environment for the growth of children.   Therefore, a family mediator bearing two sets of techniques may benefit families in overcoming their difficulties with different direction.

When is family mediation necessary? What role does family mediation play?

The family mediation plays a role of dispute resolution within the divorce procedure.  Couples may need to seek assistance  from the start of their communication of plans to separate.  I would also suggest couples to approach counselors or family therapists as soon as the idea of divorce arises.

In divorce, a parenting coordinator can be helpful and sometimes extremely necessary.  Can you please explain the role you play as a parenting coordinator?

Parenting coordination is challenging as there are usually a lot of hurts and conflicts between spouses in their divorce.  Most of the time, their conflicts involve parenting.  Hurts also trigger hatreds that affect their decision making.  In my opinion, a minimal intervention to relationship recovery for the divorced couple may help while their relationship could return to a co-operative level that facilitates rational co-parenting, as I’ve stated above.  Frankly speaking, if parents could communicate, we have no need to do too much in terms of parenting coordination.  While we are playing the role as a parenting coordinator, we sit in between spouses and take a neutral stance with passionate understanding to each party’s needs.

What are the pros and cons of having a parenting coordinator during and post-divorce?

Of course, if co-parenting does not function in some families, immediate intervention is significant for maintaining the daily lives of children.  It is the ultimate goal of all our practitioners, to try to lower the negative effect divorce may have on the growth and daily lives of children.  Furthermore, to set up a workable co-parenting plan that fit to family needs may sometimes alter weak points or blind spots that the current working plan would overlook.  Therefore, the role of parenting coordinators must be done by psychologically trained practitioners.  We can especially focus on the specific psychological needs of children in parental divorce and can be more caring to children who have a variety of special needs.

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 of all, I would suggest that each individual have a brave face in the midst of divorce, whilst at the same time seeking the necessary assistance from professionals.  As I have mentioned, divorce brings your family another set of difficulties to be solved.  The most crucial but difficult one should be the long-term arrangement to facilitate the healthy growth of the children.   Secondly, seek help as early as you can, not only in the midst of a divorce but also within your marriage before you make any decision on it.   Lastly, I would like to tell all the parents in representing our children, that their needs must be nurtured for their future.  Do not give up communication with your ex-spouse to make a desirable co-parenting plan and to co-create their future.

What advice do you give children who are struggling with the divorce of their parents?  What practical exercises can they do to alleviate the anxiety and worry they may feel given such difficult circumstances?

In my past experiences in assisting elder children or teenagers, it is heartbreaking that divorce truly poses a negative effect on children despite their parents’ attempts at avoiding it.  To reduce the effects, I would suggest to children that first of all, try to avoid being involved in important decision making.  It protects the children from the anxieties induced by biased information and the loyalty split between each parent.  Try to suggest to  their parents to communicate directly and tell them the same decision they have made.  Another reminder for children is that they should not immerse themselves too much in the emotions of one or both of the parents.  Children cannot become their counselor and children should be free to tell their parents that they instead find a professional to assist.   We can suggest they concentrate on achieving their developmental tasks, such as learning, making friends, searching for their own identity and enhancing self-esteem, as well as developing their own future that do not let parental divorce become their developmental load.


About Man B.W. Chung

Ms. Man Chung is a registered social worker and a Family Therapist.  She is especially interested in integrating micro-counselling skills in the mediation process to promote client’s co-parenting abilities while practicing the Therapeutic Mediation Approach.  Being trained to be a Child-inclusive Mediator, Man also put her efforts in helping families with teenage children by using CIM’s child assessment techniques on reflecting children’s needs and emotions for facilitating parent’s agreement accomplishment.

Ms. Chung graduated with a Masters of Arts in Family-centered Practice and Family Therapy at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and also has a Master of Social Science in Social Work in Family from The University of Hong Kong.   She attained her accreditation as a Clinical Fellow in American Association of Marriage and Family Therapist and she is an accredited Family Mediation Supervisor in Hong Kong Mediation Accreditation Association Limited.

Contact of Man B.W. Chung


Telephone : (852) 2186 1810