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  • CandleX Teen’s Learning | Mental Health Talk at Canadian Embassy

    Xiaojie, Psychotherapist and director of CandleX delivered a talk at Canadian Embassy in Feb 2024. Katie Lai, Participant of CandleX’s Teens Empowerment Project and Mentee of Xiaojie, was given the opportunity to join her and speak from her a teen’s perspective on this topic. We’d like to give special thanks to Canadian Embassy for co-creating this space for teen’s empowerment. Katie Lai (17 years old) Hongkong China 2024 Friday, 2nd of February of 2024, I joined Xiaojie via Zoom from Hong Kong China, to participate in a mandarin talk with the Canadian Embassy situated in Beijing China; Xiaojie shared her remarkable journeys and experiences in shaping her balance to become a successful psychotherapist she is now. I was also honored to deliver a talk as a CandleX Teen Representor, discoursing my development, training, and growth in the Empowerment Program. With approximately 80+ audience online and 30 joining in Beijing and China, everyone was engaged; Even only participating through my laptop screen, I could feel the eagerness and enthusiasm of everyone involved. It was a transformative and eye-opening experience for me; not only did I speak to a large audience pool which I had never done before, but I also learned an incomprehensible amount of knowledge from Xiaojie’s stories. One of the many things I have absorbed was the importance of prioritizing oneself’s well-being over anything. Personally, as a teenager, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of spiraling into non-stop stress and seemingly never-ending tasks to complete, expectations to fufill, and standards to meet. Xiaojie shared a personal experience of hers where she took the initiative and disconnected from work in Beijing to prioritize her mental health by traveling to Thailand. Which then, resulted in major positive outcomes and led to a transformation point of her life. I couldn’t help but feel inspired by the great leap in decision, but more of the courage and determination behind it; Xiaojie’s story taught me that walking away and taking a break is also a crucial step towards growth. On top of that, another essential reflection that I had accumulated was the significance to decidedly communicating and listening to more of others’ experiences through support groups. I found it interesting when Xiaojie laughed at her own self-tortures when she could put her situation in perspective attending peer support group sessions. The realization that everyone continues to thrive and live through similar, or even more severe misfortunes, indeed does create a sense of unitedness but also a motivation to blossom through hardships. This instantly made me think of the quote “Someone else in the world will always have it harder than you do”, a classic line my sister would always remind me of whenever I felt hopeless. It’s only by actively sharing and participating in discussions, that we get a closer dive into other people’s lives and remind ourselves of the society we live in; we are never suffering alone. Perfectly aligning with my current situation, one crucial lesson that helped me a lot was learning and letting life events flow. Throughout the whole talk, I felt an unusual sense of calmness. I sat back and wondered why afterward to conclude that it was because everything purely felt natural and candid as if it was all meant to be. We always put ourselves in uncomfortable, even unsuitable positions in the name of maturing and gaining experience. However, disregarded and showed mistrust in life and its orders; many sought-after opportunities, big or small only come at the right time while we are in the right headspace. Personally, everything occurring seems so urgent and forcefully implemented, that I lose track and fall into the loophole of anxiety and wish to get everything done as efficiently as possible to take larger, wider leaps. This experience taught me that it’s perfectly fine to take things at my own pace and that only I have the utmost control over my every decision. As an empowerment teen participant, it is my consistent role to engage in monthly training sessions on mental well-being, self-awareness and personal management. In these meeting sessions, I collaborate with other teen leaders and share our progress, suggestions for further updates and innovative ideas. Additionally, I contribute as a poster designer and video editor for a selection of CandleX’s content related to mental health awareness. In September 2023, upon newly joining the team, I published a reflective article on acceptance and responsibility: “Inevitable Path to Freedom”. There are many ways to get involved and to seek help and assistance. CandleX provides individual help, but also weekly mental health group workshops consisting a range of activities that soothes the mind; sessions are accessible across the website and public CandleX WeChat account. Speaking from experience, I reached out to Xiaojie in late July and have since begun our journey up until today, which still feels surreal and incredible to me.

  • Pre-treatment Guidance by CandleX | Mental Health

    When you or your loved ones feel depressed or are dealing with severe anxiety, it’s challenging to navigate your options for self-care and treatment resources in Beijing. In an effort to further support our mental health community, CandleX initiated this new service in 2020, pre-treatment, one on one consultation sessions with a qualified professional. Working with the community since 2015, we have seen a tremendous need to provide more tailored guidance for people that are overwhelmed by where to start. These one on one sessions will aim to provide sufficient information on the options available while making a plan for seeking mental health treatment. During the session, you will get sufficient information that take your preferences and unique history into consideration so they feel confident of your plan to seek treatments. The consultation is offered through a video call or voice call via Voov (Tencent call). You come in with questions, and we provide you with the best knowledge we have. Some basic questions include: I am seeking counseling/therapy treatment, but I do not know where to begin. This is my budget in terms of treatment, what options do I have? I have heard many different perspectives on medication; I am unsure whether medication is a good idea, what do you think? I ran out of medications, and I do not know where to get them in China. Can you help me? There are many types of therapies, how do you know which ones would be appropriate for me? If I go to a Chinese hospital, what would they do with my diagnosis, and would that affect my visa? Besides treatments, what are the resources available here to alleviate my symptoms? I have a close friend or a family member who is currently depressed, what can I do to support them? I have international insurance to cover my bills, but I am not sure if it’d be covered if I go to XYZ place. Note: We are not psychiatrists, so we do not advice you on which medication but to provide you psychoeducation on meds. This is not an exhaustive list. You can form your own questions We are not experts on everything. It is possible that we do not have answers to some of your questions, or it is not ethical for us to answer some questions. Fee and policy: 30mins: 300rmb 60mins: 500rmb The fee is not refundable, but you can transfer your time to another person and inform us. Who will you be speaking to: Xiaojie Qin Psychotherapist, and director of CandleX will be volunteering part of her time on this project. You will be speaking with her. please check out the following links and pages regarding her credentials and work in mental health. Psychotherapist: Xiaojie Media interviews of Xiaojie Psychoeducation video channel: Procedure: 1. You will fill out this form here (https://www.wjx.top/jq/90811632.aspx). 2. Add our coordinator Summer on your WeChat for scheduling. 3. One on one Guidance session Language: We provide this service in English and Chinese. In the meantime, we highly encourage you to check out these resources on our website. We developed them over the years to make sure everyone has the knowledge to deal with their mental conditions, and understand the services available in Beijing and in China. CandleX’s Resources Are you or a friend in crisis? Crisis Support Educational Resources CandleX Classroom Depression stories from our community members CandleX Column | My Story with Depression A CandleX production on Depression The Tiny Little Box | A Documentary on Depression Psychosocial Support Events Support Group Sign Ups - Biweekly

  • 6-Week Group | Improve Your Work Relationships with CandleX

    Do you find there’s something missing in your relationships at work? Are you concerned about your connection with colleagues and senior leaders? Has a role in leading others presented more challenges than expected? Does work seem devoid of intrinsic value and meaning? Group Details Group Schedule: 40-Minute Pre-Group Individual Session (May 4-5, 2024) Prior to participation, each candidate will participate in a free 40-minute individual consultation with the group facilitator to understand motives, desired outcomes, and to address any questions participants might have regarding group work. Group Sessions May 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th, June 6th and 13th (Thursdays, 1900-2100) Location: 798 area, Beijing Group Size: 6-9 adults Language: English Fee: 2480rmb for all 6 sessions and the pre-session interview. No refund. Registration: 1) Get in touch with Achor Therapy; 2) Fill out the intake form; 3) Pre-participation interview; 4) Payment and confirm of registration Life in China for international professionals is unique in many ways, often holding elements of excitement and adventure alongside unexpected hurdles and hardships. Language barriers can often hinder effective communication, making it difficult to build rapport and establish meaningful connection with Chinese colleagues. Moreover, cultural differences in workplace norms and practices can easily lead to misunderstandings and conflict. Additionally, professionals might face challenges in adapting to a fast-paced and competitive work environment, where long hours and intense pressure to perform are the norm. Chinese professionals with prior experience working in international settings may find comfort in working close to home and within a familiar environment, but also perceive stark operational differences and cultural expectations unique to professions in China. While exposure to Western work culture provide them with valuable skills and perspectives, they may find themselves grappling with the need to reconcile their experiences abroad with the traditional beliefs and practices prevalent in Chinese workplaces. Moreover, returning Chinese expatriates may face skepticism and resistance from colleagues who perceive them as having become too “Westernized”, leading to potential challenges in building trust and credibility within their teams. This brief six-week multi-cultural group provides international and Chinese professionals with a confidential and exploratory space tailored to examining workplace relationships. In these sessions, we’ll delve into the intricacies of interpersonal dynamics within professional settings, fostering an environment of curiosity to analyze your experiences, gain valuable insights, and develop strategies for navigating these challenges. Together, we’ll search for underlying factors that shape your relationship to work, with the goal of clarifying new pathways toward greater fulfillment and satisfaction in your career. Additionally, due to the interconnected nature of relational patterns, you might intuitively make connections to life outside of work, using this dialogue as an opportunity to share and reflect on who you are as a whole. Group members can expect to reach a deeper awareness of their reactions to professional life in China, as well as their own interpersonal styles of coping and making relational connections. Through the influence of group dialogue, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals facing similar struggles, sharing perspectives and resources that encourage resilience and inspire breakthroughs. Topics may include meaning, relationship conflict, culture shock, moral uncertainty, isolation, and issues of satisfaction and belonging. Potential Outcomes Drawing upon my expertise as a psychotherapist and extensive experience in cross-cultural settings, I provide a unique blend of cognitive-behavioral and dynamic perspectives to empower you on your path toward personal and professional growth. Based on our work within a valuable community of peers, you are likely to: Build a deeper awareness for relating to others and explore whether these tendencies also contribute to both successes and challenges in the workplace. Foster a stronger sense of curiosity toward your unique style of interpersonal connection. Experiment with new ways of communication that may expand your ability to manage relationships. Relieve pressure by saying the unsaid in a secure and professional environment. Who Should Attend? Chinese and international adults drawn to engaging in a series of group dialogues aimed at addressing professional challenges, experiences, uncertainties, and aspirations. Group Requirements Members are required to be on time and committed to participating in all 6 in-person group sessions. Additionally, each individual will sign a contract which outlines confidentiality and group communication. Group Facilitator Taylor Hamilton is an American psychotherapist practicing in Beijing. He received a Bachelor of Science in Chinese from the United States Naval Academy. Following graduation, Taylor served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy. During his decade of service, he worked extensively with foreign navies and governments throughout Northeast, Southeast, and South Asia. In 2017, Taylor left the US Navy to pursue a master’s degree in psychology at Tsinghua University. He received his clinical training from the Tsinghua University Center for Counselling and Psychological Development, working with both individuals and groups during a two-year clinical internship. Currently, he offers psychotherapy for adults and adolescents at Anchor Therapy.  Taylor provides care for range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, cross-cultural challenges, interpersonal conflict, identity, and suicidality. Email: AnchorTherapy.Taylor@Gmail.com

  • Teen’s Mental Health Engagement | Daystar Academy Event Review

    Xiaojie Qin Director of CandleX I am a mentor, besides being a psychotherapist. I like being in the role of a mentor because it gives me space to interact with teens without worrying about the therapist-client boundary, where I could use my platform, CandleX, to provide them precious opportunities to influence other teens through talking to them in person, experiencing being in the spotlight of an advocate. Leo Yu, my mentee, came with me to a workshop that I was invited to conduct in an international school (Day Star Academy) in Beijing. Leo wrote a summary of the framework and steps that every teen could take to do something on mental health. Author: Leo Yu (17 years old) Time: Feb 2024 It was on Nov 29 when I attended an offline event called Project for Change at Daystar Academy as a mentee and guest speaker of Xiaojie, founder of CandleX and the main speaker of the day. That day, I opened my heart to a group of students around three years younger than me, aspiring to promote mental health awareness. I shared my personal story about the process of communicating with my parents. In contrast, Xiaojie shared her personal experience in starting CandleX and introduced several methods for project creation. If you are a teenager who does not know where to start/directionless, you can follow these three steps. First of all, having a mentor is very important. The mentor could be your favorite teacher, school counselor, or parent. In my case, it’s someone who’s not in any of those roles. My mentor is an independent adult who doesn’t play any other role in my life other than mentor. And very fortunately, she’s a psychotherapist. Let me guide you through my experience, which I recommend to you. Step 1: Write Your Struggles We all have struggles and challenges, specifically about sharing our experiences and personal stories. I had a complicated and challenging process trying to communicate with my parents that I would like them to balance expressing love vs providing advice when they communicate with me. During this struggle, I found it hard to speak with them because of the fear of being criticized and reprimanded. Sometimes, although I gathered my composure so that my parents and I could have a peaceful communication, the words I used to express myself limited what I truly intended to say in the first place. We can find our inner voice through free writing when we write what we are currently thinking. I believe that writing during this process serves as a therapeutic tool, allowing us teens to process our emotions that we often find difficult to convey in mere words when communicating. Through writing, we gain insights into our resilience and discover new perspectives that we could incorporate into our articles and lives. By recognizing and acknowledging our stories, we can develop a stronger sense of identity and better understand who we are. This is my story: (‘What do I 'Want to Do When I Grow Up’ | A Teenager’s Reflection) Step 2: Communicate with a mentor I turned my writing on parental expectations and parenting styles to Xiaojie, my mentor in my path towards promoting mental health awareness. She provided me with an area of my writing where I could improve, where I could allow the audience to see and correlate with me in a broader picture. Many teenagers may say they cannot find such a mentor within their environment. I suggest seeking school counselors- they are a resource I believe needs to be more utilized. School counselors are in place initially to address student academic and behavioral performance issues. Still, one could use counselors as mentors in writing, as they are experienced in a way that allows us to express more and have a clearer picture of who we are. Step 3: Revise your own story. When I was communicating with my mentor on my written work, we went through several cycles of editing, revising, and improving the personal story that I was writing. During this process, it initially tended to be frustrating how there seemed to be flaws even when I was trying to express myself in written words. But revising helped me to express more of myself in descriptive details and memories that have long been hidden in my subconscious memory. I started to enjoy revising as I clearly understood who I was. Through revising our written works, we examine and identify patterns, insights, and areas for personal growth, allowing a process of self-awareness. Step 4: Share Your Writings This step is scary because you need to learn to be vulnerable. By reading and listening to each other's personal stories, we can gain insights into different perspectives, experiences, and struggles of others. The initial step taken from a person’s comfort zone in sharing their story may be difficult. Still, we could always start sharing with someone close to us, friends and family, to promote an environment of compassion and authenticity with one another. In the process of sharing our work, we are open to connection with other teenagers. We connect with others on a deeper level. Through writing, revising, and sharing, we can foster empathy, understanding, and community among participants as we realize we are not alone in our challenges.

  • Inevitable Path to Freedom | Katie’s Story

    Katie Lai became my mentee last year, as a participant of our Teens Empowerment Program at CandleX. She’s a multi-talented young lady, and the video editor of my article on “Effortless Consistency”. The first stage of the program is on self-awareness and self management, which begins with an article that these teenagers writing about their own life in a reflective and honest way. Katie’s always on top of tasks and proactive. However, this piece took her much longer than I expected. “I hate to admit that it has taken me days to finally begin writing. Mainly because it contradicts with my confrontational and brave persona on a daily basis. It’s partially also because I want to publish and showcase something that would represent me entirely. But mainly it’s because I’ve never really been so candid and cultivated courage to write this down.” -Katie The first step of looking inward to see ourselves wholeheartedly, accept all the different parts of us takes patience, courage and self-love. I didn’t have the opportunity to do it until I was 30 years old. Now, I am just glad that I get to create this opportunity to the next generation, and I enjoyed working on this piece with Katie. I hope you enjoy reading it too. Xiaojie Qin Psychotherapist, Director of CandleX Author: Katie Lai. HongKong Age:17 Time: Jan 2024 In the intricate tapestry of adolescence, my narrative stands out as a testament to the solitary path forced upon me by circumstances beyond my control, admittedly full of rewarding and eye-opening experiences yet at times agonizingly lonely. Hi, I’m Katie Lai, a 17-year-old student studying in Hong Kong with a complex family legacy of a mixture of Chinese mainland and Hong Kong heritage. Next year, I’ll be 18 and have the legal authority to take full responsibility for myself. While the reality of adulthood and the ideology of enforced independence may be daunting, terrifying, and may even seem like a huge leap for most youngsters growing out of their teenage years, I, on the contrary, have only waited on this turning point in life for as long as I could remember because I saw it as an exit pass from my muddled circumstance with grappling with the premature burden of responsibility and fulfilling the expectations of teenage naivety and youthfulness. Following up the years until today, the question 'What made me the person I am now?" was rooted deep in my subconscious, mainly to serve as a keen reminder to be grateful towards everyone and everything around me, but also for self-awareness and reflection. Obviously, there were countless considerable factors and no declarative answer to this rhetorical question. But separation always drew huge attention, specifically when COVID struck. An invisible wall of strict border controls separated me and my family between Mainland China and Hong Kong. It snatched away the opportunity for free mobility and placed a permanent strain on the relationship between my parents and me. The physical separation made us communicate less, share less, and connect less, to the point where most phone calls were made not to hear about my day but to check if I was safe and at home. Admittedly, in some aspects, it allowed us to focus on developing ourselves and minimized distractions of any sort. But what changed me the most was the freedom—with separation came freedom, which I later learned also carried a great deal of responsibility. Soon, I realized that I could not fully rely on my parents for every important decision I made. Frantically, I was pushed into a trial of independence, adapting myself to situations without a parental guide, and being given crucial roles in dictating life-altering decisions. It was tough. I'm sure many could resonate with the sudden pressure imposed on us as teens. The sudden exhausting yet exasperating, almost flabbergasting feeling that one could have so many roles in life and so much to carry on their shoulders at such a young age. It made me doubt and downplay myself. Is the matter at hand really that deep, or am I just over-amplifying the situation? Isn’t this what most teenagers are going through anyway? Time lapsed and growing up in this emotionally self-reliant environment removed the colors of adolescent naivety and immaturity from me, which juxtaposed my peers’ carefree childishness—a quality that I should possess, especially at this age of pure bliss. The separation had propelled my emotional and mental growth but erased my precious naivety. Sometimes I wish I had retained more youthfulness with the help of my parents’ presence and physical support. I wish I had someone who’d always be there to tell me what’s right and wrong, good and bad, but nonetheless, I remain eternally grateful for everything that has happened because ultimately it only pushed me to develop a profound sense of self-reliance and adaptability. On the other hand, with separation, freedom also came with the substantial obstacle of experiencing and getting used to the state of seemingly long-lasting solitude. In the beginning, I detested emerging feelings of seclusion and desolation, as I thought it was a signal of weakness and unnecessary neediness but also a signal of ungratefulness towards the sought-after freedom I had. “You shouldn’t be feeling lonely right now." “Why are you unhappy? You have the freedom that everyone wants out there!” Thoughts as such forever reverberated in my head whenever I felt a tingly creeping sense of isolation. Thankfully, it was not long until I met my group of savior friends who pulled me out of this unhealthy cycle of toxic thinking. Listening to their experiences taught me it was normal to feel lonely, even as teens with parents who are constantly around—aloneness was simply an essential stepping stone to growth. It wasn’t my freedom that created all the ‘avoidable’ loneliness; rather, we would’ve all felt lonely at some point, varying by circumstances. Loneliness and a craving for companionship aren’t signs of weakness or insufficiency but of the natural human orientation and its desire to connect and communicate. I was so relieved to learn that many others also felt the same way I did and provided companionship and guidance when I felt the most vulnerable and alone. Close friendships really brought the color of adolescent delight back into my life. Nevertheless, though separation took away aspects of my life I wished I kept, it has also undeniably provided me the chance to experience the elation of long-lasting connections and allowed me to create my guiding direction for the transition to adulthood. Sharing this publicly and even having the courage to think deeply of separation took persistence and resilience I had not previously envisioned before, and yet what kept me writing was that I’m sure there are countless teens like me silently struggling with this matter. Above all, I hope that sharing my reflection it can induce acceptance of separation; that it is so normal and inevitable; that just like me, so many others feel the same way even under varying circumstances; that ultimately every challenge of separation will always have their hidden glistening gem sparking a source of light towards our path to growth. (All pictures are from Katie Lai)

  • Sign Up | Mental Health Group Facilitator Training 2024

    ‘Over the last eight years, I have encountered many challenges both as a facilitator and as the manager of our mental health peer support group. I’ve documented our experiences, trained our facilitators, and brought all our learnings together in creating a manual. I hope that by sharing this with others, more mental health activists can get a better start and do great work in China supporting our very own community. ’ -Xiaojie Qin Director of CandleX Training Details Date: 3rd March, Sunday 2024 Time: 2:30pm-5:30pm Location: Online via Voov/Tencent Language: English Cost: 500rmb, no refund (Subsidies are available for individuals who are unable to pay but have demonstrated commitment and contribution to community mental health.) Registration: please contact Summer. Training Format: The training will be a combination of lecture, demonstration, group discussion, role-play, and hands-on activities. Participants may have the opportunity to practice their facilitation skills and receive feedback from the trainer and other participants. This year marks our 9th year of running our support group in Beijing. Seeing increasing need from emerging community members for us to do more on mental health, we are now providing training to prepare individuals to get on the path of mental health advocates and group leaders. This upcoming training provides practical guidance and knowledge based on accumulated experiences from challenges our facilitators have encountered, ethical considerations, and issues we have had running the support group. We will also go over our internal training manual that outlines the structure of CandleX’s signature program - mental health support group - and the step by step tasks of facilitation. By doing this, we hope to empower more people to get an easier start on creating their own mental health groups and projects in China. Who Should Attend: Mental health professionals including therapists and coaches Mental Health Peer support facilitators Community mental health advocates Anyone interested in get on the path of becoming a mental health professional Learning Objectives: Understand the principles of group facilitation and group dynamics Learn effective communication skills Develop conflict resolution skills Develop strategies for creating a safe and inclusive space for group members Learn about self-care and how to manage burnout Certificate You will get a certificate from us to indicate that you have completed this 3-hour training. More About the Training Content We created a question bank based on facilitator’s debrief, which we do  and document after every session. Over the years, we have engaged in discussions and mini-trainings amongst support group program team members as well as external experts to answer these questions. Note: our 3-hour training does not intend to cover all topics due to limitation of time. To make sure that this training is relevant to the training participants, I’d like you to look at the questions, and pick no more than 3 as your own learning objectives. Training Questions Bank About the Trainer Xiaojie Qin A psychotherapist, the director of CandleX, with more than a decade of experiences working with groups, as a researcher, an interviewer, a group facilitator, a group therapist, as well as manager of such groups. You can learn about her work on psychotherapy by reading Xiaojie’s therapy profile here.

  • Xiaojie Qin | The Multi-Faceted Psychotherapist

    I am a psychotherapist; director of CandleX. I am also an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a mentor, an interviewer and a story teller, a mindfulness practitioner, a student of life, and more. I am Xiaojie. Having a therapist, the right therapist, is a big deal. I want to make myself known to you as much as possible so you can make an informed decision. Let’s do it like this: How about you ask me questions about me? You: Where are you from? I was born and raised in Sichuan. I have been living and working in Beijing for most of my adult life, working with various teams of international colleagues that spread around the world. You: Have you always been a therapist? I wasn’t always a therapist. My previous work experience was in program management in major international organizations for a decade. In 2015 I founded CandleX, a local mental health organization, and have been running the organization as the director ever since. In 2021 I co-founded Project A, through which I provided group and individual counseling to people that were in abusive relationships. So, I have ample experience working in multi-layered, large companies. I also have the very different experience of being an entrepreneur facing the joys and pains of starting everything from scratch. All of these have given me first-hand experiences to relate to my clients with similar career experiences. You: What are your credentials, and what clients do you see, where are you, you know, the basics. I am based in Beijing, where I work with clients in English and Chinese, face to face and online. As a therapist I provide individual, couple, family and group counseling. I’ve been a certified level three counselor in China since 2018. I am a registered member of Australian Counseling Association, and acquired ‘master of counseling’ from Monash University, Australia in 2021. You: Who do you work with? People who are making an effort to heal, grow and live their best lives. Adults, as well as teenagers, particularly those from international schools. I work with clients to address a range of emotional and behavioral issues including: mood disorders, anxiety, grief and loss, relationship issues, career stagnation and issues, and personal growth in general. I have in-depth experience working with those who have been in abusive relationships, and am good with clients with bipolar disorder in particular. (Note: Please be aware that clinically diagnosed mental illnesses need medical attention from clinical professional from mental hospitals.) You: Modalities, Approaches, I know therapists have different schools of trainings. What approach do you use? Good question. Did you know that there are over 300 therapy approaches now? Rather than choosing a particular modality, choosing the right therapist is more important - especially for people who are new to therapy. As for me, when I first started my training and practice, I was primarily using cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT) and acceptance commitment therapy(ACT), which is a modality that I was formally trained in in my master studies. It feels natural to me, makes sense to me, and is a popular evidence-based approach. Along the way, in the interest of exploring other ways to work with clients who may find limitations with CBT and ACT, I picked up some other approaches. That is when I started getting my hands on EMDR, Art Therapy, and hypnosis; I believe there are still more that’re on my list to dive into. This combination of skills has made my practice integrative and eclectic. I believe strongly that each client and each issue require a personalized approach. That’s why I work with flexibility, using tools from different modalities to come up with a tailored approach for each client. Me, therapy and the therapy circle As a therapist, I aspire to share knowledge on therapy that I’ve learned through working with my clients. I’d like to express my gratitude towards those clients who have given me permission to share these materials so that we can bring more awareness of mental health to others. My Video Channel on psychotherapy education I want to encourage learning and sharing among therapists. We can learn together, support each other on this professional path, inspire one another to become a better therapist, and more. I provide training to other mental health professionals (including therapists, life coaches and facilitators) on group facilitation, and on building & maintaining mental health professional networks in Beijing. Here are some of my reflection on my work as a therapist: A Note To My OCD Clients | Xiaojie’s Reflection On Her Asthma A Snapshot of Project A’s Group Therapy | The Therapist’s View Psychotherapy on Healing from Abusive Relationships | Group and Individual Therapy If you want to know more about me, you can find out more at these links: CandleX: An organization providing mental health for all: www.candlex.cn My reflections about my life and the world: https://www.candlex.cn/about-our-founder Media interviews: https://www.candlex.cn/press You: Could I have a short call with you and understand your approaches before booking a formal session? In my practice, due to the limitation of time, I do not offer pre-session calls. I hope this article provides you with enough information about me, and I am happy to make answer any additional questions via email. You: How could I book a session with you? You can email me directly at xiaojieqin2020@163.com. Due to my professional boundary setting, I do not add clients to my personal contacts. All emails are replied within 48 hours, and most likely, you will get a reply within a day. I am looking forward to meeting you and getting to know you, especially the part of you that you haven't met yet.

  • Lessons Learned at Xiaojie's Startup Story- A Teen's Perspective

    I took Leo Yu, my new teen mentee, to a story night by Startup Grind where I was invited to talk about my startup journey with CandleX. I remember my teen years, spent in school and at home, I always wanted to learn more about the world, the real world. It looks so exciting, adult, and cool. Growing up in the 80s in Sichuan, I could only wish. Now that I'm at a place where I can offer that, I do, to be the adult that makes a meaningful impact on a young person’s life. I love mentoring teens because they are at the age where they can be shaped and hit their potential when they are given the right opportunities. I created the Teens Empowerment Project for this reason. I remember that night, Leo, another team member, and I were sitting on the rooftop, and I asked Leo: what would you be doing instead if you weren’t here for your first task with us? He said: ‘I’d probably stay home and do my homework. This is interesting.’ Yes, life is interesting, and let’s keep it that way. Xiaojie Qin Psychotherapist, Director of CandleX Nov 2023 As a mentee in Candlex’s teen empowerment project, I recently attended the event named Startup Story Night hosted by StartupGrind as a participant listener and an assistant for Xiaojie, the speaker and founder of Candlex, a mental health organization. It seemed as if the challenges and obstacles brought to her never ended, but she continued her pursuit. Listening to her story, as the only teenager in the room, I couldn’t help but feel inspired and relate to her experiences in my journey as a high school student. One challenge I specifically remember and that seems to have long resonated in my mind is the management of money. Hearing the speaker describe her struggle with running the organization she had created that required funds and investments, I have learned the balancing of idealism and practicality. I learned the significance of considering sustainable models, exploring partnerships, and seeking innovative solutions to ensure the longevity as well as sustainability of our business projects. Xiaojie said, “We all have our comfort levels.” The concept of comfort levels reminds us that everyone has their own boundaries and preferences. When starting a business or organization, it should be a crucial reminder that we have our own comfort zone and to work within it. Through this, we should understand our strengths, values, and limitations that could enable us to make reasonable decisions and build a venture that aligns with who we are. She added that “when you do your hobby in a way that others want,” we will soon lose our interest. Xiaojie’s comment highlights the importance of maintaining the personal connection and enthusiasm that we have for our chosen endeavor. I asked myself, what if I’m never ready simply to commit the leap of faith and belief in pursuing psychology as a career? Unexpectedly Xiaojie made another point: “We are and never will be ready.” I was never ready to break free from the chains that peers and relatives fabricated. Still, I was willing to change the current circumstances in which I was situated - lost, unknowning of the future and what I aim for as an occupation. For far too long, I had allowed myself to be confident in the perceptions and limitations that others imposed. I find myself often waiting for the perfect moment or seeking the validation of others before pursuing what I truly want. The weight of familial and peer expectations pressed heavily upon me. I lost myself in the 'role confusion' stage of Erik Ericson’s psychosocial development. Pressures and aspirations conflicted with one another, causing my mental health to degrade. But I yearn for a sense of purpose and direction. As Xiaojie previously stated, I am reminded that readiness is not a destination for one’s success but a continuous process of growth and self-discovery; to be quite honest, it is in the moments of uncertainty and stepping into the unknown where we find the strength and resilience to create a future aligned with our true desires. This is one of the most important takeaways for me during this event. I realized, truly, that I’m under the influence of my peers and parents in the field I’m stepping into, although I sometimes struggle with the idea of whether I should take these influences into account. However, I should take these influences to a certain extent in the belief that some are beneficial while incorporating them into my inner voice, where I observe and answer this situation holistically. Attending this panel discussion has been a transformative experience for me as a high school student. With each step that I take in the future, to forge my path with a renewed sense of purpose and determination, I will continue to honor and challenge my comfort levels by embracing the uncertainty and striving for a future that stands with my values.

  • Sign Up | Mental Health Peer Support Group in Beijing

    Updated in Oct 2023. Moving to a new country, going through a breakup, losing a job, or living with mental conditions are very challenging. Yet, there’s no reason to suffer alone when one can choose to join hands with others and let the power of connection and group support encourage and heal us. In the absence of such social support in Beijing, CandleX established the peer support group in October, 2015, with the goal to provide psychosocial support to Beijing community. It provides a safe and supportive environment for people living in and out of Beijing to share personal thoughts and experiences in small, confidential gatherings. To understand this project, or if you’d like to read our 1st, 2nd and 3rd year support group review, please visit https://www.candlex.cn/mental-health-support-group. NOTE: If you are looking for information about mental health treatments or have a close friend or family member who is living with a mental health condition like depression or anxiety and you want to support them, our Pre-treatment Guidance Program is perfect for that. Please read here and sign up accordingly. Key Information Peer support group Participants: Our support groups are for people living with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or suicide ideation. The support group is especially effective for newcomers who are in situations of lack of social support, experiencing shame and guilt of having depression or people who present an elevated risk of mental illness. Date: every second and fourth Tuesday (both offline by default) Time : 19:30-21:00 Location: near Dongdaqiao (details will be communicated via a confirmation email after 4 pm, the day before each meeting) Language: English Max number: 7 people each session Fee: 50rmb Registration via scanning QR code, or click on https://yoopay.cn/event/05475102 Support Group coordinator will reach out via private message to confirm your registration after screening and payment. Content and Approach: During the meeting, the core elements are as follow: Share our stories and feelings, and let others help you and give you emotional support when dealing with the difficult emotions alone. Help each other recognize the importance of tending to and promoting our own self-care The meeting is generally conducted in talking and sharing, but we offer other approaches to make sure that we feel relaxed and comfortable to share, including some guided meditation, breathing exercises, etc. There is one facilitator to throughout the session, monitor the progress of each session and facilitate group interactions. Keep in touch with each other, as we have a WeChat group (that you may join after attending at least one meeting) where you would be informed of Beijing community mental health events, other information that might be helpful for your recovery. Peer Group Principles We shall not be held responsible for group member’s safety. We are all peers. There are no professionals in this group. CandleX will not be responsible for people engaging in self-harm or suicidal ideations. By signing up to the peer support group, I understand and agree to release CandleX and its staff or volunteers from any or all liability connected to my own participation, including but not limited to any forms of self-harm or suicide. All information shared with the group is confidential. All new participants will need to register first for eligibility screening. No graphic description of suicide, self-harm and death as it may trigger some of the attendees. Please note that this is a Peer Support Group, there will be no professional therapists attending. If you have any concerns or feedback of the support group, we welcome you to let us know by emailing it to xiaojie.qin@candlex.cn . The concern would be handled sensitively directly by CandleX’s director. CandleX Resources If you are in a crisis, please seek a professional immediately at the same time. Your will find useful information on our crisis page, visit: https://www.candlex.cn/single-post/crisis-hotlines-be-brave-reach-out-for-help. If you’re more interested in how to navigate the mental health world and get more info on how to get support or get treatment, for you or someone you know, please check out our pretreament guidance program. If you are looking for professional support, you can check out our video channel this channel for more info. If you’re a facilitator or interested in becoming one and joining the facilitator processing group, please check out the facilitator’s processing group article.

  • ‘What do I Want to Do When I grow Up’ | A Teenager’s Reflection

    Leo Yu, a 16 year old Chinese student attending international school in Beijing, recently joined our teens empowerment/mentorship project this summer in 2023. I took him to the entrepreneurship story night by startup Grind where I was presenting as a guest speaker, with the hope of giving him some idea of what entrepreneurship is about. Not the logistical knowledge on how to start one, but rather the awareness of each entrepreneur’s inner self, both strengths and struggles, and understanding of ‘entrepreneur’ as a manifestation of how we interact with the world. At his age, teenagers are starting to answer the big question. Some teens set foot on the right path, and some do not. Those who do not, are still seeking answers today, regardless of their age. What do I want to do when I grow up? If you are a parent, a college application counselor, a teacher, I hope this #TeensOpenLetter can offer some deeper insights into a teen’s world beneath the surface level, and aid you to work with them better. If you are a teenager reading this article, I hope you understand that the confusion, doubts, pressure, and stress at this time of your life are emotions that every teenager experience. Yet if you find that they are too much for you to deal with, and you start to experience depression or anxiety, don’t forget to reach out for help. School counselors are always there, guiding you through it. Have you met them yet? Xiaojie Qin Psychotherapist, Director of CandleX Oct 2023 Leo Yu, that is my name. As you can tell from the last name, I’m Chinese. I'm currently 16 years old and in my junior year at an international school here. I grew up in an ordinary family no different from any other, with kids entering the world in the mid 00’s capital city of Beijing, China. My mother is a housewife, and my grandfather has been a doctor his entire life. He aspires for the younger generations of his family to pursue the same occupation as him. It was when one of my cousins told him she was going to major in medical management, that I saw a smile on his face that I had never seen before in my life. My dad, on the other side of my family, CEO of a well-known business abroad, also holds his own expectations for me to start a business. As for me, at the age of 16 I question myself, "What occupation should I pursue later in life?”. The thing is at this age, nearly reaching adulthood, teenagers get anxious due to the lessening amount of time they have left to answer to this question. A question that is asked by almost all family, relatives, and friends. It wasn’t long ago in 2022, during my freshman year in high school, when I started pondering what the future holds for me almost on a daily basis. Viewing social media everyday and seeing people starting and booming up with their businesses caused me tremendous stress and pressure. In my view, being an entrepreneur, especially one with an economics or business major, is not such a unique or personal choice since it is the advice that almost every Chinese family provides their children. At the same time, I felt scared about being replaced by artificial intelligence. Or ending up in a job that cannot sustain my desired lifestyle and hobbies (take for example my interest in the rhetoric of English language and literature). I, like many of my peers, was raised with the constant question of what career path we are going to follow. Occupations such as “doctor”, “CEO”, or “engineer’’ are the most common responses that fill our classroom. All of us have, at one point or another, aspired to get a job that offers a lucrative wage; to make a name for not just ourselves, but for our family. My journey towards discovering my career path has been filled with twists and turns, not just from peer pressures, but also the “iron chains” that family expectations put on us, restraining our choices. I don’t know if my parents know that the high expectations they put on their children creates such heavy burden. To be quite frank, I really wish that my parents could communicate with me in a way that differs to how their own parents demonstrated their love. I wish that I could overcome the fear of opening up to my parents, and tell them the way I actually want them advise me when it comes to my future career. Not through common phrases such as: “this is for your own good” or “this is what you really need in the future to live a lavish life.” Rather, I dream that maybe someday I could hear them say: “I'm here to support you every step of the way,” or “I trust and have faith in every decision that you make.” I don’t tell them this because I fear that they might take it as criticism, and that’s not what I mean. I also know that they do what they do out of love. So I haven’t expressed how I really feel in an honest and transparent way. I fear that, if I do, they wouldn’t be able to listen because they already know what they want from me. Do they care about what I want for me? Although this is their way of expressing their love and care, and they do want the best for me - a stable, rich life ahead - I just have to say it all feels just like any other traditional family with kids born in 00’s. I personally believe that what I really need and want is to have my parents’ method of care changed, the tone of their voices from demanding to inviting and affectionate. Ultimately, what I seek is a shift in the way my parents and I communicate as I continue to explore my career path. I aspire to find balance between following my own passions in psychology and mental health, and fulfilling the desires of my parents to the fullest possible and attainable extent. In the end, I hope that my parents can embrace the idea that my happiness and fulfillment lie not just in meeting societal and familial expectations, but in pursuing a career that truly resonates with my passions and values. And so, as I continue this path of self-discovery into the unknown, I remain optimistic that we can bridge the gap of misunderstanding between generations to foster a bond and bridge built on mutual understanding and unwavering support.

  • A Letter to Educators on Student’s Mental Health Work

    Author: Xiaojie Psychotherapist, Director of CandleX Time: Oct 2023 Stepping out of the campus of an international school in Tianjin, I couldn’t help feeling hopeful and inspired by the effort made by this school to improve its students’ mental health. In many schools in China, students are not willing to seek counseling and therapy support from school counselors. One time, I was told that the room where students go to for counseling and therapy is called the ‘crazy room’ and ‘No students want to volunteer themselves to go’. This was a typical description for Chinese schools. Even in international schools, situations are not much better. Growing up in China, I’ve witnessed a significant improvement of people’s attitude towards mental health in the past decades. Working as a therapist and advocate for mental health, I am usually in contact with people who seek my help, my opinions and services. If I am not self-aware, I tend to forget that my experiences are skewed because the majority of people that I work with volunteer themselves to my services. There are many people out there that still cannot talk about mental health, still feel ashamed of feeling bad or going through a hard time. I do not always have access directly to these groups. But luckily, in recent years, there’s a growing number of workplaces and schools that are paying more attention to student mental health, and actively seeking external support to reduce stigma and bring awareness to the very core of being a human: our emotions. An international school in Tianjin is one of them. In Sep 2023, I delivered a workshop to their high school students on campus. Although it’s important to teach students emotional regulation skills, and address common struggles of peer relations, family pressure, academic stress, the school counselor and I decided to first begin by covering the basics of stigma reduction. Only when shame dies, can a person accept themselves where they are, learn emotional coping skills, and seek help. In schools today, even in international schools, we cannot rush into “teaching” yet when the students’ emotional brain is still offline. 90 mins workshop went by quickly. I gave them an chance to anonymously express their struggles and rate them according to the level of stress they experience. We then categorized the submissions so we could collectively see them, thus bringing these topics into the light. We had moments where we addressed the very real, but often taboo topic, of contemplating life and death. I showed them post cards of adults who live with bipolar disorder who I worked with and who joined me to do awareness raising in Beijing. All of these, luckily, help those who struggle in isolation alone to understand that they are not alone. As they wrote in their feedback, this workshop gave them a beam of light that they too, could recover. In my nearly decade-long campaign to raise awareness on mental health, I always talk to participants’ emotional brain, where shame resides. I share stories - my stories, stories of community members, stories of adults or teens I’ve worked with who’ve joined us to share their personal experiences with mental health. I try to create an environment of safe and strong vulnerability that we all need in order to be allowed to feel the difficult feelings, and be okay with to them. We cannot ask a student or an adult to go see a counselor and hope they’d listen by explaining to them why it’s helpful. We must talk to the emotional part of them that resists getting help, even though they may logically think it’s not a bad idea. I admire educators who think outside the box to address mental health on campus, and I am inspired that more and more educators are reaching out to do whole school mental health, in addition to putting school counselors into place. Mentally health students mean mentally healthy adults, and a mentally healthy society means more peace and joy in this world.

  • 8th Anniversary | CandleX Mental Health Peer Support Group

    In 2015, I organized the first meeting of the mental health Peer support group in Beijing because I couldn't find one myself. Today, it celebrates its 8th anniversary. Consistency has always been a value that I take seriously. I am glad that now, in the year 2023, we see more people offering support, collaborating to provide more coherent services. In these eight years, we have not only provided a space for people who are struggling with depression and anxiety, but also created opportunities for those who want to help the community, want to explore their interest in working in mental health, or who are applying for psychology majors. We have opened up all internal trainings so we can provide what we have learned running the support group to others who want to start their own groups. Last but not least, I'm truly thankful for the trust our community has placed in us along these years. Xiaojie Qin Director of CandleX

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