I am a happy geek who has fallen in love with both clinical practice and with research. I started out as an undergrad investigating mother-infant communication. At about age 21, I discovered dynamic systems theory. That theory pretty much sums up how I see, think, and feel. It’s the idea that the whole is not merely the sum of its parts, and to best understand any phenomenon, we must study the whole. It was a natural fit for me to study traditional East Asian medicine (TEAM) given the holistic framework we use to diagnose and treat whole people.
I’ve come to realize that in the nearly 20 years that I’ve seen patients that TEAM clinical practice is profound, transformational and revolutionary.
In a conversation a few years ago with Michael Max, I found myself gaining greater clarity and vocabulary about my clinical practice: for me, clinic is sacred. Not in a churchy or religious sense. But rather sacred given that I have the opportunity to fully be present with another human being as they walk along their journey of life.
It is sacred in the sense of all the amazing changes I’ve witnessed in my patients: both expected (we’re treating pain and it is decreased) and unexpected (less pain, and et voila!, they quit their miserable job and follow their dreams…). Along the way I found after about a decade of practice that while I deeply appreciated what happened in clinic, the sacred space and delightful changes I was able to help my patients realize, that I needed more fun in my career: for me, research is fun.
Research is creative, generative, and dynamic. I am interested in discovering how we can more fully experience our embodied self-awareness, and live less in our heads.
In research lingo, we’ve discovered that symptoms are described as less bothersome, interfering, or severe, when we’re more present with ourselves, with greater embodiment. This translates to traditional East Asian medicine because I think that while people lay on the table, needles in place, they have the 20-30 minute opportunity to drop into their present lived experience, and to get out of their heads, if they choose to take that invitation to settle.
We are inherently social beings and that social context, re-created in healthy and nurturing clinical contexts, supports embodiment and being present in one’s lived experience. My research is investigating these topics, and a few others. I’ve been so incredibly fortunate to complete at PhD at the University of Washington and most recently join the faculty at the University of Utah. I’m one of a couple of handfuls of acupuncturist-researchers.
For those who find research absolutely boring, or worse, pointless…please listen to this conversation. It’s lively and not, perhaps, as dry as you’d anticipate.
And contact me…I truly am a happy clinician-researcher geek and I’m always happy to “talk shop.”