For Staff Psychologist, Work Is A Passion

For Staff Psychologist, Work Is A Passion

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

It doesn’t take long into a conversation with Szu-Hui Lee to know she is the kind of person who is good at accomplishing things. Many things.  A senior staff psychologist at the UNH Counseling Center, Lee specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy to treat anxiety disorders.

The treatment is goal-oriented, often resulting in reducing symptoms quickly in cases, for example, of individuals who are dealing with general anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, or social phobia. It is a method, she says, that suits her personality.

“Sometimes we can see change occur in a few weeks,” Lee says. “It’s teaching people how to regulate their emotions, their thoughts and behaviors. Basically, how to manage themselves. A skill set all of us need.”

For college students, sometimes that can be as simple as helping them manage their time, or figure out how to negotiate with roommates. Sometimes the issues are much larger. All of it is work that Lee finds very satisfying.

A Taiwan native, Lee is the first in her family not only to graduate college but to go on to obtain higher academic degrees.

“My family instilled in me the importance of education and hard work,” Lee says. “It’s what I know. And while it may sound like a cliché, my work is a passion for me. I really enjoy being a psychologist.”

Here’s proof of how that passion plays out in her life: In addition to the clinical work she does at the Counseling Center, Lee participates in the psychology training programs at UNH and McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., supervising pre-doctoral interns and post-doctoral fellows. She is course director of the multicultural training seminar series at McLean, holds an appointment as a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, and has a private practice in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, where she specializes in anxiety disorders. What’s more, she has been teaching periodically in Asia since 2009.

Later this week, Lee will travel to China and Japan with colleagues from Harvard and Suffolk University to present training on the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders to audience of psychiatrists and psychologists.  It will be her fourth time teaching and China and her first in Japan.

“Being able to teach in Asia is not only great professionally, it has personal meaning,” Lee says.

Here at UNH, she embraces being a part of the international culture, attending weekly lunches for international students (noon-1:30 p.m., Thursdays at the MUB) co-hosted by the Counseling Center and Office of International Students and Scholars, two offices with a strong dedication to supporting international students.  Lee also consults with the Navitas Program and has taken part in staff and faculty trainings on campus.

“I think being out around campus helps the international students see there are other people like them. It’s a good bridge,” Lee says. “As UNH becomes more internationalized, I would like to see more support in place to help meet both international students’ and domestic students’ needs to fully embrace and capitalize on the experiences and learning opportunities of culture exchange.”

Among the unique attributes Lee brings to UNH is a fluency in Mandarin Chinese, which can sometimes help with students from China for whom communicating in English may be an obstacle.

Information on the UNH Counseling Center can be read here.