My Journey in Professional Development and Continuing Education as an Acupuncturist

When I enrolled in acupuncture school in September of 1990, I had been a student and teacher of bodywork for over 14 years. I always loved to teach. I taught elementary school, Montessori and then adult massage therapists and energy workers. My first introduction to the transformational aspects of continuing education and professional development came to me through the work of Dr. Randolph Stone. He was an osteopath who explored the varied worlds of Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and western medicine. His work was eclectic and felt integrated to me. I pored over his books on Polarity Therapy and wondered about all the energy pathways and underground reservoirs of chi he uncovered for me. I explored his work and always felt like a beginner. The vastness of his knowledge amazed me and continues to influence me. The richness and subtleties of the ultrasonic core nourishes an understanding of the eight extra meridians as well as the 12 channels. This wisdom that I saw in Dr. Stone led me to pursue the adages he sprinkled through his writings. "As above, so below" has become my mantra as well as "the body is a reflection of the mental and emotional patterns". And so I continued my education and professional development by enrolling in a Masters program in depth psychology. I planned to become a therapist and to help balance the yin and yang through that avenue. I enjoyed the reading and writing and studying and yet I remained a body worker. The body spoke to me and I felt that I could help people in a more profound way by working with the body as well as the mind and emotions. I abandoned my internship as a marriage and family therapist and continued teaching and practicing bodywork in Santa Barbara.

I've always loved to learn and I find that, for me, the easiest way to learn is to teach. I really have to know the material to be able to explain it to the wonderful body workers in my classes. Over the years I've taught so many different modalities. My continuing education took me into the worlds of pregnancy massage and infant massage. I love working with pregnant women and being a part of their transformational process. So pregnant women came to me and I was able to attend home births and be present in ways that could only accelerate my professional development. Then, in 1990, I knew the next step in my continuing education was a college of acupuncture and oriental medicine. It was such a rich time for me especially because in that September right after I began my classes at Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine, I broke my jaw in a bicycle accident. I was able to experience the power of Tradition Chinese Medicine in healing my body after this accident. The herbs, the acupuncture and the love and care of my teachers and fellow students helped me to heal myself in a very profound way.

The nutrition, herbs and natural healing that I continued to learn allowed me to emerge from this time with no scars and increased vitality. I am very grateful for that particular kind of continuing education course. It was a course I never would have chosen for myself, but my "inner physician" was wiser than me egoic mind. A pivotal book for me during this time was Paul Pitchford's HEALING WITH WHOLE FOODS. It became my nutrition bible. I referred to it as an intern many times and still use it today with my patients. I encourage them to purchase it. I have also used it as a text for the nutrition classes I have taught over the years at Santa Barbara Body Therapy Institute. Cathy McNease, one of my nutrition teachers, wrote a wonderful book with Maoshing Ni called the Tap of Nutrition. This book continues to be a mainstay for me in my continuing education and professional development. There is so much wisdom embedded in the Five Element theory of taste and keeping it balanced. All of the influences I have had over the years have brought me to teaching this Continuing education course called Immune Support Self Care. It evolved from a DVD I made with Josh Freeman, my webmaster. We made the DVD in response to the needs of my patients. I always tell my patients that what they do on a daily basis determines their health and well being and enhances the effectiveness of their acupuncture treatments. Over and over I would tell each patient the different techniques and qi gong exercises that would enhan ce their health. They asked me to make a dvd so that they could see my doing the belly work and the qi gong. They wanted to learn about the lymphatic system and heal themselves. I teach classes to my patients up here at my retreat house near Yosemite and it helps them become healthier and happier. I decided to offer this work to acupuncturists because one of my fellow acupuncturists up here in the western sierras, Carol Morrill, suggested that I teach some continuing education courses for acupuncturists because I already teach continuing education courses for massage therapists through Natural Wellness in Pinebush, New York as well as in Santa Barbara. So I am now continuing my education by teaching continuing education and professional development courses for California and the NCCAOM.