Hi, I’m Mai Bao.
I am a first-generation, cisgender Hmong woman that was born in a refugee camp and moved to the USA at a young age. As a refugee woman of color, I personally experienced the complexities of navigating cultural and social pressures. As a result, I embody these facets in my work to create authentic narratives of healing.
I grew up in the Midwest where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. I am a certified Eye Movement Desensitization and Processing (EMDR) therapist. This means I have specialized training to help you recover from traumatic experiences.
My experience of navigating intersectionality and practicing from a trauma informed framework fuels my work as a therapist. My goal is to support your healing process and help you cultivate your most authentic self.
HOW MY LIFE EXPERIENCES INFORM MY WORK
Growing up as the eldest child, I had to assume adult responsibilities at a young age. My family arrived to the USA with no education and no understanding of social norms. I became the language and cultural interpreter who helped my parents navigate government assistance programs, pay utilities and read report cards. I learned adaptive skills and have a deep understanding of survival and resiliency factors in multigenerational family systems.
Growing up in two different cultures often meant that I experienced the tension of feeling not good enough within my community or the dominant community. I grew up in a small town and experienced messages of being different from my classmates. I struggled with self-esteem and self-worth. I felt constant emotional fatigue with internal and external pressures to conform to social and cultural standards. I learned to explore and challenge the oppressive frameworks that invalidated so many facets of my identity.
Growing up as a refugee, intergenerational trauma and cultural expectations from my family felt like a heavy backpack. I struggled to understand my parents' survival lens because I could not connect with their trauma experiences. I learned to reconnect with my cultural roots to embody and reclaim ancestral wisdom that could be adapted into my current narrative as a first-generation Hmong woman.
Growing up in a male dominated culture, I learned from an early age that my gender was expected to sacrifice for others under the label of caregiving. I watched other women in my family and community normalize patriarchal practices that seemed to disempower and hurt them. I learned to ask questions and challenge the fine line between tradition and oppression in order to interrupt abuse and violence.
University of Wisconsin Stout - 2014
Master of Science, Marriage and Family Therapy
Macalester College - 2010
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
Minnesota License #3148
Oregon License #T1868
Board Member - UW Stout Marriage and Family Therapy Program Advisory Committee
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Certification
Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
Internal Family Systems (IFS)