Yu Chak Sunny Ho


Sunny ho

Department of Counseling and Health Psychology


Dr. Sunny Ho is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling and Health Psychology.


Dr. Sunny Ho is a licensed psychologist in the State of Washington. Prior to moving to Seattle, he completed his APA-accredited pre-doctoral internship at the Rutgers University’s Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and graduated from the APA-accredited Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Program at the University of Iowa (UI) in 2020. He is passionate about liberating and empowering international, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ clients in his clinical practice. His research is primarily focused on multicultural psychology and culturally responsive therapy approaches.

Dr. Sunny Ho's teaching philosophy is to provide students with a liberating, courageous, and collaborative classroom environment. He is passionate about contributing to the future generation of diverse mental health clinicians and researchers and exposing them to counseling literature, particularly those written and published by minority scholars. He has enjoyed supporting students’ intellectual, social and career development through forming and maintaining close teacher-student relationships, which is congruent with his value of collaboration and engagement. He facilitates classroom discussion using the social constructionism approach. He does not assume himself as an expert in the classroom. Instead, he encourages students to speak up about what they have learned and share their own understanding. By incorporating real-life and culturally relevant examples, he ensures his students are empowered to apply psychological theories in the real world.

Dr. Sunny Ho's healing philosophy is to empower clients by taking on strength-based, relational and systemic approaches in therapy. When working with clients with complex trauma, he spends time on building rapport and trust first, then understanding their conceptualization of pain and suffering. After that, he listens to clients’ traumatic events with a systemic and anti-oppressive lens. He facilitates conversations with clients about the meaning of life and explores their wisdom, resilience and resources based on their worldviews and culture. He has accrued a wide range of therapy experiences that continue to allow him to appreciate indigenous power to heal and restore. Additionally, he employs an open-minded, flexible and humanistic approach with his clients. He takes it as his responsibility to work with his colleagues to critically evaluate Westernized approaches in psychotherapy and integrate culturally relevant treatments. There is not one theoretical orientation that fits all clients. He hopes that students will be able to foster clients’ growth through developing authentic and non-judgmental relationships.

Awards & Honours

  • The University of Iowa, International Student and Scholar Services

  • The Inaugural Global Student Award 2019; International Student Advocate Award, 2016-2019

  • The University of Iowa, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost

  • Diversity Catalyst Seed Grant 2018 (award amount: $1500)

  • The University of Iowa, College of Education

  • Audrey Qualls Commitment to Diversity Award, 2019

Professional affiliations

  • American Psychological Association (APA), Division 17, International Section, 2012 – Current

  • Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA), Division on International Students and Professionals, Chair, 2022 - Current

Research philosophy

As a researcher using a multicultural and feminist lens, Dr. Sunny Ho has been heavily involved in both qualitative and quantitative studies addressing social justice issues and power structures in society. He strives to bridge the gap between literature and practice and help students develop research ideas and projects that can make an impact on themselves and communities. He is passionate about training future scholars and clinicians to become social justice advocates and leaders of change.

Research Interests

  • Global Mental Health Issues

  • Indigenous and Holistic Healing Practices

  • Intersectionality of Identities


  • Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR)

  • Grounded Theory

  • Content Analysis

  • Wang, K., Garrison, Y., Ho, Y. C. S., Anders, C., & Kivlighan, D. M. (under 1st review). Asian international psychotherapist’s experiences of client’s microaggression in therapy. Journal of Counseling Psychology.

  • Garrison, Y. L., Park, S., Yeung, C. W., Li, Z., Ho, Y. C. S., & Chang-Tran, J. (2022). The social class worldviews of Chinese international students in the United States. Journal of International Students, 13(1), 40-58. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v13i1.4013

  • Garrison, Y. L., Yeung, C. W., Ho, Y. C. S., Hong, J., Son, Y., Lin, C.-L. R., & Bermingham, C. (2022). Linguistic minority international counseling psychology trainees’ experiences in clinical supervision. The Counseling Psychologist. 50(6), 813–844. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000022109432

  • Liu, W. M., Liu, R. Z., Garrison, Y. L., Kim, J. Y. C., Chan, L., Ho, Y. C. S., & Yeung, C. W. (2019). Racial trauma, microaggressions, and becoming racially innocuous: The role of acculturation and White supremacist ideology. American Psychologist, 74(1), 143-155. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000368