University of Hawaii – Hilo
Dr. Bryan Kim is a professor at the University of Hawaii. His research focuses on multicultural psychotherapy process and outcome, measurement of culture-specific constructs, psychotherapist training, and immigrant experiences.
What drew you to the field of psychology and your current interests (e.g., multiculturalism, counseling, immigrant experiences, etc.)?
As an immigrant from South Korea who entered the U.S. (Hawaii) at the age of nine, I have always been interested in how people adapt to new settings and cultures and more generally human behaviors and interactions. This interest became more formalized in terms of disciplined research when I was earning my master’s degree in school counseling at University of Hawaii at Manoa. Also during this time, I was extremely fortunate to have good professor mentors who allowed my to assist them with their research studies. This experience led me to seek a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at University of California at Santa Barbara under the direction of Professor Donald Atkinson. While I learned from participating in his line of research in multiculturalism, Don also encouraged me to pursue my own line research interest in multicultural therapy process and outcome and how cultural norms impact client behaviors before and during therapy. With his expert assistance, I was fortunate to have been able to create my own research niche beginning with the publication of the Asian Values Scale (Kim, Atkinson, & Yang, 1999).
A doctoral degree in psychology can lead to a number of different careers. Can you tell us about how you chose your current career path?
When I was an undergraduate and then a master’s student at University of Hawaii at Manoa, I worked as a student assistant in the College of Education for about five years. During this time, I was able to observe and learn about what professors did for a living. I loved the flexibility that they had in terms of teaching, research, and service activities. This experience led me to decide that I wanted to become professor. Then from the start of my Ph.D. program, I structured (some would say obsessively) my studies and research activities to reach the goal of becoming a professor.
As you think back to your undergraduate days, what were some experiences that were helpful in bringing you to where you are today?
I was extremely lucky to have had good mentors throughout my undergraduate (and graduate) years. The professor mentors helped me to develop as a person and my career goals. Also, as I had mentioned above, my work at the UH Manoa’s College of Education allowed me further concretize my career goals.
How do you think we can get more Asian Americans interested in psychology, starting at the undergraduate level?
I think it’s very important to have more Asian American professors who can serve as role models and mentors for undergraduate students. Psychology, in my opinion, is a naturally appealing topic to many students, so having Asian American professors would further encourage these students to pursue their degrees in psychology.
What advice would you give any undergraduates who are thinking about majoring in psychology, or pursuing graduate school in psychology
I would advise them to go and speak with their psychology professors to get a more in-depth and first-hand knowledge about what is possible with a degree in psychology. I also would encourage them to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to speak to anyone who is interested in psychology.