Meet Asian Australian psychologist, Valerie Lieu. Part 1.

interview mental health Jun 06, 2022

We know that it's not always easy trying to work out which therapist we might like to work with: Because the decision isn't just about where they're located and when they're available, but there's a bit more of a human, relational element to the decision too.

So here at Shapes and Sounds, we want to help make that process just a little easier.

Every month, we'll be introducing a therapist from the Asian Australian Mental Health Practitioner List to help you gain a bit more insight into who you feel might be a good fit for you or someone that you know.

This month we're excited to connect you with Valerie Lieu who is a clinical psychologist, based in Sydney. Valerie provides expert care across a broad range of challenges including PTSD and complex trauma.

We hope you enjoy connecting with Valerie below!


1. What led you to choosing psychology as a career?

I was young when I had my first existential crisis, it was in high school trying to figure out what I wanted to do for work, which made me think about what I wanted to do with my life more broadly. After all, proportionally you spend so much time of your waking hours at work. To balance this, it also needed to be practical and make enough money to sustain me (yes, the influence of Asian parents steered me away from my more creative joys of art and literature). 

When it came down to it, the only certainties I had were that all humans experience painful moments in their life, and if I could help alleviate some of this pain, then that would be a life well-lived. I have also always loved hearing people’s stories and understanding what motivates people (I think this stemmed from my love of reading), but also a general thirst for learning and understanding how the world works. For me, psychology is the perfect mix of art and science.

2. What is your unique cultural heritage?

I was born and raised in Sydney, my parents were born in Mauritius, and my great-grandparents are from China. My first language was French Creole, but I sadly lost my fluency when I started school and needed to catch up on learning English.

I wrote a submission for the SBS Voices Emerging Writers competition exploring my cultural identity in 2021 (the theme was ‘between two worlds’). I’m definitely not a writer, but do enjoy it, and thought it would be an interesting lockdown activity:

~ "On The Outside" By Valerie Lieu ~

3. What are your areas of specialty and what kind of frameworks do you work from?

I have worked extensively with people with longstanding difficulties with anxiety and depression, grief and traumatic loss, PTSD and complex trauma (childhood trauma, relational trauma, veterans and first-responders), bipolar disorders, mental health in the context of chronic and/or life-limiting medical conditions (e.g. epilepsy, cancer, motor neurone disease), suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and psychotic disorders.

I have spent most of my career working in the public health system, including adult inpatient mental health units, and currently at the National Centre for Veterans’ Healthcare (NCVH) and in a palliative care service.

I am trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), schema therapy, and various trauma-focused treatments, including Eye Movement and Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR), prolonged exposure, and cognitive processing therapy (CPT). I draw flexibly and creatively from these frameworks to tailor therapy to individuals, and would describe my therapy style as warm and pragmatic.

4. What kind of clients are you best able to support?

I am honestly willing to support any clients who are gutsy enough to give therapy a go! I work predominantly with adults who have longstanding and/or severe and complex mental health difficulties, who are struggling with grief, or who have a chronic or life-limiting medical condition (or caring for someone who does).

If you could be your own therapist right now, what do you think you would say to yourself?

I would tell myself to slow down and pay attention to what my emotions and body signal that I need, and to be kind and patient with myself.


Connect with Valerie via our Asian Australian Mental Health Practitioner List HERE.

Alternatively, if you feel like Valerie may be a good fit for someone that you know, be sure to forward this page on to them too. Let us continue to not only support ourselves but all those around us too!

If you require urgent assistance, please do not contact Valerie or any of the practitioners on this list. Instead, please call emergency services on 000 or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Shapes and Sounds does not recommend or endorse Valerie or any of the practitioners listed on the Asian Australian Mental Health Practitioner List.

Please always consult your GP before making changes to your mental health care plan.

💡Free resource: The essential guide to Asian Australian mental health.

We created our "Essential Guide for Asian Australian Mental Health" by surveying over 350 Asian Australians during Covid-19 lockdowns.

Download our guide and learn about the three most pertinent areas of concern for the Asian community, with tips and strategies to support you through.

Download now