* Clients and professionals are quoted and named here only with their express written permission, and in the manner that they have requested.
"It took me a while and lots of thinking and doubts to take the step and reach out to a counsellor. I had been mentally unwell for a while yet always thought that other people were worse off than me and I was not sure if I was just being dramatic by considering counselling sessions or if it was justified. In the end, I decided that it was indeed justified to seek professional help and today I am glad to say that it was the right step and the best thing I could in this crazy year of 2020.
The counselling sessions helped me to understand myself, my thoughts and behaviour a lot better and to feel more at ease with them. It has reduced my time feeling anxious, angry and ashamed and thereby gave me time back to actually enjoy my work and social relations. I still struggle at times, but I am now better equipped for it and feel less helpless when feelings threaten to spin out of control.
I feel thankful to have been through the first steps of this on-going process with Janak as he has always respected my personal space and pace, and yet knew when to ask the right questions to go deeper into the process of self-reflection and understanding. He was able to relate broader questions to my personal stories. Communication was always professional and at the same time based on personal trust."
"I have consulted with Janak since 2017, when he started his practice in Hanoi and joined the Hanoi Counseling Psychology Group. He offers clients the right combination of insight to the problems they face with the caring connection that helps them feel listened to and supported. Jan holds the space for everyone who comes to him. His natural calmness and deliberate style make it safe and comforting to clients who are dealing with emotional pain or the stress of life. I have recommended many clients to Janak in the past and will continue to do so."
Douglas Holwerda M.A., M.Ed.
Psychotherapist and co-founder of Hanoi Counseling Psychology group in 2011
"Janak is a very empathic, skilled and professional psychologist. He really listens to his clients and works with them to achieve their goals and improve their emotional and psychological distress. I have worked with him over the years and would highly recommend him as a Psychologist."
Dr Dang Nguyen
(MBBS, Mpsych, FRANZCP)
"I started going to Jan for therapy at a time in my life when I was not sure about a lot of things - my identity as an expat, my intimate relationships, my longer term career goals, my disconnection with family back in Canada, and therapy itself. Jan listened and helped me see my thought patterns more clearly. He also helped me see that therapy is a tool more than a crutch or a lifeline - a tool I still use in the best of times. I can recommend Jan as a counsellor not only for his professionalism and empathic insight but also for his character and calm, accepting demeanour. I felt comfortable with him."
"I first started receiving counselling from Janak in March 2018 after he was recommended to me by a friend. At the time, I was experiencing a range of issues such as anger management, which was starting to get out of control. Janak’s sessions were not only aimed at unpacking and analysing my issues but he also showed me some practical and easy to use techniques to manage my temper, which had instant benefits. Janak is a very professional, trustworthy and skilled counsellor and I would certainly recommend him to anyone who was experiencing problems similar to my own. "
Anthony, 39, English Teacher, Client
“Before seeing Janak, I had been living for years with a crippling need to please all those around me in order to feel worthy of love, care, and appreciation. I would try to meet everyone’s expectation of me and sought for their approvals. Thus, when I didn’t get the validation I craved, I blamed myself because I believed that it was because I “wasn’t enough,” so they didn’t love me. I’d always fall into this loop of trying to do a little bit more, just to feel “whole” again (“if I can just try a little more, maybe they’d see that I am worth it”). I remember it got to a point where I was just trying to get through the day. I bounced back and forth between feeling entirely numb and uncontrollably volcanic. Neither feeling felt nice because all of my feelings were determined by everyone but me.
However, Janak helped me slowly realize how I am much more than what others think of me. Working with him in my personal issues helped me gain skills I was missing from my life, such as drawing boundaries, setting expectations for myself and others, learning to embrace the contradictory aspects of myself, and redirecting my attention away from things that were eating away my emotional and mental health. The best thing about the whole process is how patient Janak was with me. I remember getting frustrated when my growth process was not linear and I would slip in and out of depressive episodes thinking I had ended up right where I started. But Janak guided me through all of this back-and-forth process and allowed me to practice these new skills in a safe and reflexive environment.
After six months of counseling, people have been noticing obvious changes in me. I am much more at peace and the vibe I give off seems much lighter than before. I began to do things purely for the sake of making myself happy. Others’ validation still matters, of course. But they don’t exist as a driving force in my life anymore. I get to decide how others’ opinions affect my life and our relationships. For a lack of better words, it feels empowering knowing I am not broken and that I was just lacking some skills that can be learned through good guidance and practice. And at the end of the day, I do have Janak to thank for that.”
"Jan is amazing! I saw him for about two years and he helped me sort through the problems that were holding me back. Before started working with him, I’d tried to reach out to several therapists, but couldn’t afford their rates. Jan worked with my tight budget and helped me understand my issues. If you need an unbiased ear in Saigon, I highly recommend you reach out to him."
" I came to Janak for help during my personal crisis 3 years ago. I was recommended by a friend to use the Hanoi Counselling Therapy Group (Janak's previous workplace) and after reading Janak's profile I had a feeling he would be able to help me. So I emailed him straight away and he was so responsive in replying to my email and very supportive in setting up an urgent session with me the next day. As it was my first time ever using counselling service, I was unsure of what to expect. Janak really helped to put me at ease and I knew I was in a safe environment and he was there to help me navigate through one of the most difficult times of my life. I remembered he was telling me that by sharing my story, he would help me to move further away from the issue itself so I would be able to view my problem from different angles, instead of me being in the center of the problem and couldn't see things clearly. By doing so, I will be in control of my situation. After my sessions with Janak, I learnt a lot about myself and it really helped me to improve my relationships with my loved ones. Since counselling services are still underestimated in Vietnam- at least to my personal knowledge, I hope people will be more aware of and take better care of their mental health. I have since then become more open to share with my friends how the counselling service has helped me and have also recommended some of them to use Janak's service. I am very grateful for Janak's support and I hope more people will be benefiting from his excellent professional service. I wish him and his new practice all the best!"
"Janak is a very kind, patient, and attentive man. I found him to have great emotional intelligence which helps a lot when you are not sure how to start a conversation or how to keep it going. I often had trouble expressing myself during our sessions and so it is thanks to his patience and ability as a listener that I was able to work through my problems, one step at a time.
Janak is also very flexible in how he approaches his clients' needs: though I often spoke about the same things over and over again, he offered various pieces of advice until a method resonated with me."
"Janak is very professional - he draws clear boundaries between me and him, while making sure I know I have his support. He would never tell me what to do, unlike some other counsellors that I'd worked with. I felt more comfortable and empowered with Janak's approach. He taught me how to ask myself meaningful questions and apply the tools he gave me so I could become better on my own. I'm very grateful for his support and for the sessions we had together."
“When I started meeting with Janak in 2019 I was in a very confused place, unable to see whether I was feeling 'up' or 'down'. All I knew was that I was traumatised and needed help. It wasn't an easy decision, but the most important decisions rarely are. Meeting weekly with Janak over the coming months helped me see and understand what I had been experiencing. He always encouraged me to dig deeper and I began to realise a new type of calm and realise how much more powerful that was than being on what felt like a roller coaster. He showed me how to recognise the feelings for what they were.
What made Janak different to other counselors I have visited in the past was that he made me realise that I had the tools already to help myself, and he enabled me to use them. Knowing that I had the tools to deal with what had happened to me had made me feel so much more secure and calmer, certainly ready to embrace the future. This was not something that I could have imagined a few months earlier. Even now I feel far more able to look after myself and I am a lot kinder.
It has made all the difference in the world.”
“When it comes to your counselling, I really think it is one of the most valuable experience I have ever had. From the beginning, I already thought that this counsellor is the one I can trust since I had been suggested to you by my friend, another client of yours. Knowing that you have a Master's degree in Psychology also supported that trust. As for the whole experience, I will say that confidentiality brought me comfortability and security to share my stories with you without hesitation, and your wonderful approach helped me solve my problems by myself instead of being told what to do. I get to know myself again, better than before and gain the ability to look at things from other sides. My problems were solved, and what I appreciate more is the ability to balance my thoughts and emotions when the mental breakdown may come. Another thing I was reminded by you is that actions is what will really improve the situation, not the advice or talking to somebody only.
Additionally, although I am a Vietnamese, and I am just good enough to communicate in English, I found no problem during my experience with you. You are really good at listening and understanding what others say (even if they are crying like me ^^) as well as talking in the most understandable way. Your open and friendly approach enabled me to share my story more comfortably. Perhaps it let me think that we have something in common and that made me more relaxed?
In my experience, mental problems have been more common since the existence of Covid 19 (I do have some of my friends struggling with this), and your counselling is like a therapy coming to rescue. Other people may also be in need, and several talks to you are what I will recommend to them.”
“Reaching out for help was one of the hardest things I ever did, but Janak was calm, kind and professional from the very first point of contact. He reassured me that I had support, and through the whole time we were meeting he never let me feel anything less than this.
If you need to talk to someone, don't be frightened of asking. Janak will help you.”
"Before going to therapy I was unhappy with my drinking and just feeling stressed and overwhelmed. This was having a massive knock on affect with my fiancé.
Through Janak taking the time to listen to what I had to say and help me to question how I felt about a variety of different topics and stressors in my life, I began to feel better about myself and my actions in life. Additionally, by learning to recognise the warning signs and teaching me coping strategies I am now able to live a life of my choosing and my fiancé can see a real change in how I am. This has taken a while but was completely worth my time. I am grateful to Janak and his approach and would thoroughly recommend it."
"I was an expat living in Hanoi for about 3 years and started to feel anxious and a bit overwhelmed by my life. I never went for counseling before, and was usually quite good in sorting these things out with myself but a lot of good friends just moved away and I was not too sure where to turn to. Janak was recommended to me and so I gave it a try. The sessions were very professional, I felt really listened to and instead of giving me advice on what to do he guided me through my problems and thoughts by asking the right questions. It did not just make me feel better in my day to day life; I actually gained insight on how to work through problems like these by myself. I went for about 8 sessions and some of the realizations I obtained still help me these days to make sense of my thoughts and problems that come up in day to day life. If you see yourself in a similar situation I can highly recommend his service. I also recommended him to a friend that also spoke about his experience quite highly".
Adrian B, Client
“Get out there, face your fears. Process experiences. Reflect. Accept. Embody peace and love from within. Allowing someone to hold space and assist in navigating these processes is a decision you need to make. Do it. Invest in yourself. And this will directly impact the world around you”.
“Janak is a calm and reassuring presence who allows you to feel comfortable and safe while unpacking difficult things. I found his focus on meaning helpful in delving beneath the surface of my problems and finding the truth. He provided me with a number of actionable and effective strategies and coping mechanisms for anxiety and depression that I use to this day. I would recommend Janak to anybody seeking to make the chaos of life feel a bit more manageable.”
Matt, English Teacher, Hanoi, Client
“Janak is what I’ve been searching for in a therapist. Not only was he able to help me sort through some immediate personal issues but has a deep knowledge and expertise in some of the biggest existential issues that face us in life. Why am I here? What do I stand for? What makes my life meaningful? These are questions that lie at the core of who we are and all have - but so seldom do we get a chance to explore them. Janak expertly guided me through these and other such challenges on a journey I’m so glad to have taken and have him to thank for."