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Integrative Psych Medicine™

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has none of the mind-body split which characterizes Western Psychology and Psychiatry. The English word ‘psyche’ roughly corresponds to the Chinese phrase Jing Shen, or “Essence-Spirit”, but mental-emotional patterns arise for very much the same reasons as any other TCM disorders. The same underlying pattern that is expressed as dizziness, blurred vision, and migraine headaches can also express as anger and depression.

Many TCM imbalances of the psyche are due to a pattern of Yin deficiency Fire, which arises from a combination of Liver Qi stagnation, Spleen vacuity, Blood/Yin vacuity, stirring of Ministerial Fire, and Damp Heat or Phlegm. One common scenario in Western patients involves Liver Qi Stagnation, which combined with Spleen vacuity tends to produce rising Heat that in turn blocks or ‘mists’ the Heart. Because TCM thought considers the Heart to be the abode of Essence-Spirit, such misting leads to mental-emotional instability. In Western terms, this rising fire might look like anxiety syndromes, insomnia, manic behavior, or even menopausal hot flashes.

Key to the treatment is the pattern diagnosis (signs and symptoms) that provides the practitioner with the information necessary for the treatment. In TCM we have an ancient saying, “Same disease different treatment, same treatment, different disease”. Therefore, in TCM we treat the pattern…not the “disease”. Treatment of the pattern then resolves the “disease” and its constellation of symptoms.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has a 2000 year-old history of working with the physiological aspects of psychological imbalances, and it provides us with a large repertoire of tools including acupuncture, herbal medicine and Chinese dietary therapy.  When applied as a complement to skillful psycho-therapeutic care, this holistic approach can produce profound and long-lasting results.

If patients are having difficulty with medications, we have found that this kind of holistic care can be very effective to mitigate side effects or, in cooperation with the prescribing practitioner, facilitate transition out of prescription use altogether. This process alone often encourages in a patient a great sense of accomplishment, and hope that psychological issues can truly be overcome.

“Through his gentle style of acupuncture, Evan has been able to facilitate a mental and emotional calm and openness to process in depths typically seen through longer term or pharmaceutically enhanced therapies. Evan’s work allows for a reduction of somatic symptoms and facilitates a fluidity in the expression of the emotions, which then allows for an enhanced psychotherapeutic process. He is sensitive to the special issues that arise for patients with histories of trauma and is able to skillfully deal with abreactive responses. He understands and respects his role, and skillfully avoids the need to enter the realm of psychotherapy.
E. O’Shaughnessy, MA, MFT, Santa Cruz, CA

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