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Meet Roy Kim

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roy Kim.

Roy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Thanksgiving night, 2009, my wife at the time confessed she had been secretly involved with another man for a long time. My knees literally buckled and I fell to the kitchen floor. Life as I knew it had ended. Little did I know that this devastation would become the rock solid foundation on which I would build my career of helping others.

I ended up divorcing her. There was no tangible path of reconciliation and trust building. This decision to divorce was soul-wrenching. I felt hopeless, shameful, rejected, and pissed. I didn’t ask for this. I felt like damaged goods and truly believed no one would want to marry me now that I was divorced. I also felt disqualified for therapy work. I thought, “Who would want me to help them with their problems when I’ve got so many problems of my own?” I stayed in this shame swamp for some time and projected my poor view of myself onto others.

Through the guidance of my grad school professors, my colleagues, and my supervisors, I gradually came to discover that my pain made me acutely sensitive to the pain of my clients. Prior to my trauma, I related to people on an intellectual and theoretical level. This doesn’t fly with therapeutic work. To help people in their pain, one needs to really know pain intimately. They need to know that you “get” them. Empathy had always been somewhat elusive for me, but now it was tattooed onto my soul. I cared so much about all people’s pain.

All except for one type of people: Cheaters.

I reserved a room in my heart for punishing cheaters. Liars. Deceivers. I had zero empathy for them. I wanted to see them suffer. I couldn’t watch movies about affairs without bursting into tears or screaming bloody murder at the screen. During my therapy internship, I had to screen the intakes to make sure I was not matched with a client who had cheated because I would be no help to them. I thought this would be my reality for the rest of my career. My slogan would be, “I’ll help anyone, except for backstabbers.” But amazingly, the very people I avoided like the plague, would eventually become the focal target of my practice. The people I love to help the most now are the cheaters.

Oh, and someone did marry me, even though I was divorced. And she has a daughter, who is now my daughter. Beauty really can come from ashes.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
One of the toughest things I have experienced as a therapist is having a target population that does not want my services! I am male, Asian American, a Christian, and I specialize in sex addiction. Here’s why this combo is tough sledding:

There are way fewer males who go to therapy than females. Whether it’s pride or machismo or self-sufficiency or whatever, they’re just not enthusiastic about the idea. So my pool of potential clients is small.

There are way fewer Asian Americans who go to therapy than whites, blacks, and Latinos. Many would say that their immigrant parents would flip if they brought up the idea of therapy. Shame has a lot to do with this, and so my pool of potential clients shrinks further.

A large percentage of Christians would rather go to their pastor than to a therapist, partly because they don’t want to pay money, but also because there is a part of them that believes their faith and prayers ought to solve their relational and emotional issues. By seeking a therapist, many would fear that they are admitting their faith is too weak. I categorically disagree with this philosophy, but still, this is a widespread belief. The pool gets smaller.

When it comes to sex addiction, who would seek treatment for this unless they are in full crisis, and all other options are taken away? The shame and embarrassment are ultra strong when it comes to admitting compulsive porn viewing or paying for sex or adultery. The pool has become a puddle.

The very people who need help, and whom I can definitely help, are not seeking help. This is a major challenge. And yet, I believe the stigma will lessen year by year, and I will persist in championing the case for therapy and relational health.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about New Legacy Counseling Services – what should we know?
As a sex addiction therapist, I specialize in helping those with compulsive sexual behaviors, and those who have been hurt by their partner’s sexual behaviors. I love helping these folks in individual settings, and I absolutely delight in doing group work with them. In group therapy, the power of healing and recovery comes from the dynamic of the members of the group, not necessarily from me. I love seeing members take ownership of their growth, and really investing in the lives of the other members. It’s one of the most fulfilling parts of my job. This is the kind of interaction they’ve been missing perhaps all their life, and it just feels wonderful to create the environment for this to happen.

In addition to providing this specialized therapy, I also host two podcasts.

The first podcast is called SA speakeasy. SA stands for sex addiction. This podcast is devoted to the topic of sex addiction, and I have wonderful guests who also do sex addiction therapy work. We have illuminating discussions about different aspects of sex addiction with the hope that listeners can learn more about their own struggle, or about the struggle of people they love.

The other podcast is called The Same Boat. The idea for this podcast formed when I realized that there needs to be a space for Christians to talk about real life matters that are rather taboo or awkward to talk about in church or in their Christian circles. Examples of these topics include abortion, divorce, losing your faith, rage at God, being your parent’s surrogate spouse, and more. My heart gets filled when I get emails or reviews saying that these episodes gave voice to emotions that have been repressed for decades. I want listeners to know that they are not alone, that there are others in the same boat as them.

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Image Credit:
Morgan Hydinger, Hyeyoon Chong

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