Claremont McKenna College
Dr. Wei-Chin Hwang is a full-time professor and also has a small and individualized therapy practice and consulting agency in both Pasadena and Claremont. He specializes in treating mood disorders, marital and family problems, traumas, adjustment difficulties, personal growth and development, and culture and mental health issues.
What drew you to the field of psychology and your current interests (e.g., Asian American issues, culturally adaptive therapies, mood disorders, etc.)?
At that time, there were very few Asian Americans going into the mental health field. I wanted to choose a career where I could make a bigger difference and help the community. Because of this, I’ve always had an applied focus in my research and wanted to help improve mental health services for underrepresented populations.
A doctoral degree in psychology can lead to a number of different careers. Can you tell us about how you chose your current career path?
At first, I guess I just got tracked into it because UCLA has heavily emphasizes the scientist-practitioner model and producing academics. I also wanted to be a professor because of the multiple levels of impact that faculty have (e.g., conducting research, teaching and mentoring students, training therapists, and providing clinical services).
As you think back to your undergraduate days, what were some experiences that were helpful in bringing you to where you are today?
Definitely being involved in as many different organizations as you can, volunteering in different research labs, and seeking out clinical experiences that can help you decide which areas you want to specialize in. It’s important to find good mentors, do a year-long senior thesis, and get involved in summer research opportunities programs.
How do you think we can get more Asian Americans interested in psychology, starting at the undergraduate level?
I think we can get Asian American students interested in psychology by helping to destigmatize the mental health field. Various student organizations can also help promote education and awareness of these issues. It’s important to emphasize that success is multidimensional, and psychologist not just about getting good grades, but also learning as much as you can about yourself and the world around you.
What advice would you give any undergraduates who are thinking about majoring in psychology, or pursuing graduate school in psychology
Get involved, chase your passion, seek out good mentors, get as much research and clinical experience as you can, study hard for the GRE, work hard, and don’t limit yourself. Also, don’t forget to have fun, think positive, make friends, exercise, and stay mentally healthy!