Karen L. Suyemoto, PhD
Picture of Karen Suyemoto

I initially became a clinical psychologist to help individuals through psychotherapy. But a series of experiences led me to understand that pain is frequently imposed more systemically, and the individual pays the cost. Thus, it has been my passion for social justice and outrage at oppression that has most guided my professional choices. I currently use my skills in scholarship, teaching, and mentoring to help people tolerate and move through the pain of experiencing social inequities in order to transform that pain into social justice impacts in therapy, advocacy, and community engagement. Given my particular background and current position (a split-line between Clinical Psychology and Asian American Studies), my work has a relative focus on issues of racialization and Asian Americans, while recognizing the connections and intersectionalities with other people of color and other oppressed statuses.

The large-scale costs of social inequities are obvious in wars or poverty or disparities within health systems. But what can we, as individuals, do? As a psychologist, much of my answer is to translate the large-scale to the individual--and vice versa--through research and teaching. In my teaching and my research, I aim to foster understanding that everyday moments in our lives are choices that either compound the pain of injustice or contribute to healing. This understanding is particularly important in educating and training human service professionals, where the positive or negative effects of such choices are magnified through their effect on service provision, teaching, modeling, and organizational policy. Through fostering and demonstrating the effects of empathy and agency, I hope to contribute in some small way to creating a better and more just world.

This website aims to share a bit of my approach to that, as well as offer resources or information that may be helpful to others’ contributions. Because I also believe that foundational elements of trying to live social justice include positionality, honesty, and transparency, in the following pages you will find not only the usual descriptions of my teaching, scholarship, and community coaction activities, but also my reflections on intention and purpose. These are, of course, always a work in progress. I welcome your feedback on my work. Reach me via email here.