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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - For emotional counsel, all you need is Dr Love

For emotional counsel, all you need is Dr Love

For emotional counsel, all you need is Dr Love

Sathya Pholy returned to Cambodia from the US after receiving international therapist certification to become radio's "Dr Love".

Meet a popular local radio broadcaster who returned from exile overseas to make his living as a relationship therapist and all-around dispenser of advice

Hopefully, my radio show can begin to help them resolve their issues.

With radio an extremely popular medium in Phnom Penh, a great number of the city's youngsters regularly tune in to Love FM 97.5.
While listening, they will no doubt have heard the voice of the station's resident self-help guru, Dr Love. But, they may well ask, just who is the man behind the pseudonym?
Listeners are familiar with his voice and may have seen his logos or stickers, but they probably don't know much about his ordeal under the Khmer Rouge.

As a 14-year-old son of a Khmer Rouge survivor, Love was desperate for a better life and education.

He managed to escape Cambodia and emigrated to the US in 1984 via Thailand.

Nowadays, he could equally be described as an adviser, a counsellor, a lecturer, a radio producer and a presenter, yet the man himself remains a mystery to most of his fans.

Firstly, Love's real name is Sathya Pholy, and he is the first Khmer-American to receive an international certificate in Alcohol & Drug Abuse Treatment.

He spent over two decades living in America and undoubtedly achieved what was originally referred to as the "American Dream": Namely, access to education and the chance to build an economically sustainable life through hard work and commitment to his job.

Here, the Post attempts to get to the bottom of Sathya Pholy's hopes, thoughts and ambitions now that he has returned to his homeland.
First, though, let's clear up that moniker.

Why do you call yourself Dr Love?
"It is quite simple really; I graduated with a degree in psychology and also hold a PhD in educational psychology from Capella University, which means I am a doctor. Love simply stems from the fact I broadcast on Love FM."

When can any prospective new listeners catch your show?
"The programme airs every Thursday night, and I aim to help solve the love and relationship problems of young Cambodians. Furthermore, I have another show called Family, Community and Relations, which is broadcast on FM 99.5 and also targets Khmer listeners."

Why do you choose radio as your means?
"Mainly because many Cambodians don't want to read, and the illiteracy rate in this country is high. Overall, the education people receive is still poor, but most people can speak and understand the language, which is why radio is the best way to educate them."

So far, what are the main problems listeners cite?
"Cambodians follow the motto 'actions speak louder than words' and never seem to show love, sympathy or forgiveness to their loved ones or people around them. There is a lack of communication between parents and children, husbands and wives, employers and employees. In Cambodian culture, to express love in public is a new phenomenon, and they don't feel comfortable saying it out loud.

"If someone's son has done a good job or succeeded at school, the parents will never praise or encourage him, as they think he may become egotistical. However, if their son makes a mistake, they will quickly reprimand him or use bad language towards him.

It contrasts with Western culture, where most parents show a great deal of love to their kids and are more patient when they make mistakes. Normally, this helps the child's development and they do not feel upset as often."

You have received US citizenship, so why did you come back to Cambodia?
"I came to share what I have learnt, and know that Cambodian people need experts to help solve their problems. Many of them experienced the trauma of living through the dark regime, which resulted in deep-rooted psychological distress. Hopefully my radio show can begin to help them resolve their issues."

What do you hope to achieve through the show, and what will you be focusing on?
"Firstly, from what I understand, most Cambodians are emotionally and physically traumatised, even the younger generation. They saw their parents use violence to solve problems, so when they face problems of their own, they will follow in their parents' footsteps.

If you have any questions regarding love and relationships you can contact Dr. Love via: or call Love FM every Thursday night from 9-10pm.

"The two main problems I want to address are education and the lack of communication between people. In terms of education, each individual should be positive. Even if something goes wrong, they should stay optimistic and think, 'If other people can do it, I can too.'
"More importantly, love and communication between people is so important.

"We have to sit and talk to one another, discuss our problems and use non-violent solutions to sort it out. Love and relationships can bring happiness to even the sternest people, and the country as a whole."


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