Call me "Kelly" or "Dr. Koo,"
whatever is more comfortable for you!
Pronouns: she / her / hers / we
Some of my social identities: woman of color / POC / Asian American cisgender female
My academic and career highlights
I've been a mental health therapist, researcher, consultant, and educator since the early 2000's. In case it's helpful to you, here are some of the big pieces of my professional story.
Bachelors in Psychology, minor in Asian American Studies, University of California, Berkeley (2003)
Masters in Clinical Psychology, University of Washington (2008)
PhD in Clinical Psychology,
University of Washington (2011)
Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist for newly diagnosed kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Clinical internship, Veterans Affairs (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System
Staff psychologist, San Francisco VA (SFVA) Health Care System & Oakland VA Behavioral Health Clinic
Graduate Medical Education Psychologist, Highland Hospital
CA License PSY27845
Research & Administrative
Research fellowship in ethnic minority and women veterans’ mental health at SFVA and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Director of Mental Health Clinic, San Bruno VA Outpatient Clinic
Here are some of my peer-reviewed scientific publications.
Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (EDI)
EDI Trainer, VA Palo Alto Health Care System, Psychology Service
Multicultural Programming and Diversity Consultant, SFVA
EDI and mental health consultant, Google People Operations Mental Health Team, supporting diverse employee mental health during COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustices of 2020
EDI trainer at UCSF
My Style as a Therapist
Therapy with me is about empowerment of you.
I take the time to get to know you and hear your story, since you know you best.
I ask a lot of questions that are informed by social science research and the context of the histories of your peoples.
I look out for you and try to steer you back to your values (I’m like your wheel alignment). I compassionately nudge you in the direction you want to be going.
I’m collaborative. I ask you for your feedback. Often. And in different ways.
I’m warm, candid, and compassionate. Practical. Sometimes silly. Sometimes, I swear.
I gently challenge your assumptions about yourself and the world.
I’m present (I almost NEVER WRITE during sessions) and intentional and recognize it’s really vulnerable to be in therapy, so I’m vulnerable right there with you. I share my emotions and treat our therapeutic relationship, like all relationshipsーlike it’s real (because it is).
I give you honest real-time feedback.
I take into account systemic oppression in how we got to where we are.
I take into account culture and stigma in how we got to where we are.
After we understand the whys, hows, and whats, I ask you to take a good look at yourself to find out where you can do things differently, and then we empower you to make different choices and realistic changes.
I talk to my therapy clients the way I talk to most everyone in my life. Like I said, sometimes, I swear.
I stay open to the new things I learn about you and adjust plans and strategies.
My Style as Trainer & Consultant
Authentic. Vulnerable. Collaborative. Skillful.
I acknowledge this work is inherently uncomfortable and operate from there.
I practice what I preach, meaning I often model what I request participants to do in trainings, and I have received 15 years of consistent feedback that it’s the most powerful motivator to encourage participants to do the same. I recognize it’s risky to share and practice, so I do it first to show them it’s about practice not perfection.
I am authentically myself. I share my own lived experiences quite a bit, including my mistakes, my accomplishments, and my traumas in both my professional and personal life (while keeping confidentiality).
I am knowledgeable but I also have no qualms about saying “I don’t know,” and then do the work to find out. I don’t presume to know it all; I can’t.
I cherish the times I’ve been corrected in an engagement (like when I used an outdated label for a social group) and publicly thank participants for their courage in speaking up.
I do my best to involve everyone, so I offer multiple ways of participating so various participation styles can be included (anonymous input, solo self-reflection, pair shares, small and big group discussions, video and audio clips)
I try to be as transparent as possible (without compromising confidentiality)
I ask for feedback throughout an engagement and afterward.
I take feedback super seriously and often adapt content based on feedback, sometimes during a training.