Karel Chan

Karel Chan

Licensed Professional Counselor


I will guide you in discovering, nurturing, and reclaiming your true nature: the essence you were born with that has always lived in you.

Client Status

not accepting clients



Portland, 97206

At a Glance


Rate: $110-$130

Provides free initial consultation

Provides telehealth services

Practicing Since: 2011

Languages: English

Faith: Buddhism


  • Individual

Insurances Accepted

  • Out of Pocket
  • Out of Network
  • Aetna

My Ideal Client

I work specifically with folks who have felt successful in past therapy work, yet find themselves looking for something deeper. Maybe you know all the concepts and are stuck in your head about it, or maybe your life really has improved but something still lingers... that thing that you're worried will "never change." You know how to engage in self-work, and maybe you've delved into spiritual growth with curiosity and are looking to integrate that into therapy. I would love to guide you in that!

My Approach to Helping

My approach to therapy is a synchronistic blend of psychology, sociology, and spirituality. Emotional suffering arises when we are disconnected from our spirit. It feels like “something’s wrong” because our spirit — or life force, or true nature, if you will — has not been permitted to thrive and flow, due to the influences of the environment we have been immersed in. While your experience is very much yours, it is also a part of an expansive, universal experience: that of being human. I draw heavily upon principles and practices of Buddhist philosophy and spiritual teachings. Number one, above all other details, is mindfulness: nonjudgmental awareness of and compassionate, wise attention to what arises. Blending this and other Buddhist concepts with attachment theory, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and aspects of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), I strive to create a compassionate space for you, your spirit, and your desire to open and willingness to heal.

My Personal Beliefs and Interests

Embodying the role of therapist has been a heartening, enlivening, confusing, humbling, and defining experience for me. To be in relationship with so many people over the years, to open space for their truest selves with my own heart, has awakened much of my own truest self and also invited me to investigate and heal parts of me that have been blocked and hidden away because of my own pain. I believe that being a therapist not only beckons, but demands this, so that I am genuinely with my clients in intimate fellowship, rather than teaching or advising from a higher authority. I am deeply committed to fully embodying my human presence — flaws and foibles included — and continually excavating the pure, limitless compassion with which I entered this life. Studying to become a therapist is only half of it; what I have found to be the true touchstone of wisdom and growth is the heartfelt humility and connection that arises when I sit with another tender soul in our common humanity.

Techniques I Use


  • Contemplative External link

    We are often weighed down by self-defeating messages and the residual imprints and interpretations of painful experiences, and feel that there must be some answer "out there" to feeling better, or, simply, to feeling good. I believe that the answer is deep within you, buried underneath all those messages and imprints. We will work together to excavate the outer layers that have formed over the years and investigate the true heart, spirit, and wisdom that begins to shine through.

  • Mindfulness-based External link

    Mindfulness is a two-pronged skill of awareness -- noticing something arising, and nonjudgment -- allowing it to simply be what it is. In learning, strengthening, and repeating this practice, we become expansive in our ability to be with any experience that life brings us, without feeling clinched, panicked, or pressured to "prepare for the worst." We also become deeply loving and compassionate of our humanness, no matter what we are thinking, feeling, or doing.

  • Attachment Theory External link

    Our adult relationships reflect our earliest relationships in life with our families of origin. Whatever the quality of those relationships, they taught us powerful messages about love, how it's given, and sometimes what we need to do in order to receive it. If love was absent, inconsistent, or highly conditional, then we move through life feeling a persistent lack of belonging, no matter who we are with. Understanding that these messages are not true can open us to freely give and receive love.

Issues I Treat


  • Self-Esteem External link

    Self-esteem, to me, embodies all of the ways we attend to and treat ourselves: self-love, self-compassion, self-governance. Much of our suffering stems from ways that we, as a survival response to neglect or abandonment when young, have neglected or abandoned our selves. Only by turning toward the forgotten, disconnected self can we come back online with a fully embodied presence and an intact esteem for the whole self.

  • Relationship / Marriage Issues External link

    How we learn to seek and then engage in relationships is formed in our earliest experiences with others: our families of origin, parents, caregivers. Whatever our environment tells us we need to do in order to be loved — even if it hurts or actually feels bad — we do. We will find and nourish those tender, scared, confused spots within you, so that you can embark on seeking relationships already feeling whole, ready to give and receive love courageously and open-heartedly.

  • Spirituality External link

    Rather than see you through a framework of pathology or mental illness, in need of treatment or problem-solving, I see you as a human who has lost touch with their spiritual being and is feeling the anguish, isolation, and helplessness that comes from that disconnect. I will guide you to create room to listen and attune to the deeper truths of who you are, who you have always been.

  • Personal Growth External link

    It is our human nature to change and seek growth; it is also our human nature to cling to sameness and fear the unknown. We often search outside of ourselves for solutions and direction to ensure that we are making the "right" choice as we age and develop, when truly the answers live within us. By attuning to and connecting with the wisdom of our souls, we will find that the path of our growth reveals itself.

  • Anxiety External link

    Anxiety is the mind's way of trying to achieve peace and safety using thoughts and intellect to exert control, find solutions, and fix what's "wrong." The problem with this is that very few things require solutions, or are actually "wrong" or truly within our control. Peace and safety, though, are innate human needs, so the journey is learning to step away from thinking and into a space of courageously being with feelings of fear and unrest, building an inner strength and wisdom that we trust.

Contact Karel

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