Choosing a Functional Medicine Approach to Psychotherapy

A Functional Approach to Healing

My practice is where biology meets psychology. Stress or trauma is found at the point where these two disciplines meet. If you listen well to your body, you will know what I mean and you will respond well to therapy. Your therapy will be individualized to your needs. Some need more physical healing while others need more relationship, psychological or spiritual healing. As long as you are willing to change your habits of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, then ultimate health is possible for you.

01. What is Functional Medicine


In a simplified form, functional medicine is a way of approaching healing by first listening to your story and taking inventory of your ‘symptoms’ without labelling you as having a specific ‘personality disorder’, or some other limiting or fixed classification. Instead, functional medicine sees you as a human being experiencing a diseased state in a moment of time. And within this state, I use a systems-based approach to healing. Otherwise, it is like playing a game of whac-a-mole – chasing symptoms, rather than seeing the person as a whole.

02. What does a functional medicine approach to psychotherapy look like? What should I expect?

After taking a detailed clinical history, recording your timeline, and providing you with my rendition of the story you provided to me, I will inform you of the key areas, events, and experiences that landed you in the physical state you are in right now. I will then support you with not only psychotherapy (traditional talk therapy), but also suggestions of specific lifestyle factors surrounding sleep, relationships, movement, nutrition, and stress management.

03. How does functional medicine differ from your traditional psychotherapy approach?


In traditional psychotherapy, I may certainly make suggestions in these lifestyle areas, especially when it concerns stress reduction, but I would not suggest specific testing to determine and objectify the reasons why you are feeling so stuck. The approach is more symptomatic. Let me provide you with a vignette:

Female, aged 52, decides to book an initial consultation due to long standing anxiety as well as marital concerns. Through the lens of functional medicine, while documenting her story, I would note more physical symptoms (this might be weight gain, joint pain/stiffness, stubborn weight around the belly or hips, cravings, constipation, poor sleep, tender breasts, frequent infections, etc.) You might be surprised to think all these symptoms could be attached to one physical cause. It may not be the sole cause of her physical symptoms, but it could be responsible for 80% of symptoms.  Furthermore, inflammation runs through the body, including the areas of the brain important in regulating the central nervous system.

You can see this vignette becomes a chicken and egg scenario quite quickly. Where does one begin?

I test, not guess. With a few simple tests, I can determine the underlying causes and finally treat the problem, not the symptom.

Curious to find out more? You should be. You have likely struggled way too long and spent a lot of money and time ridding the symptoms temporarily, whether that be through the latest diet, supplement, doctor visits, or psychotherapy session, rather than treating the underlying cause.

04. How is this different from seeing a naturopathic doctor?

It is not really – it is very similar except that I have the clinical insight into the emotional struggles you are experiencing. Let’s be real, this is often what is holding you back from the gains you want to make. Let’s face it, you probably already know what you are doing wrong. It is not a matter of free will, it is often a matter of biology, pattern formation and repeated unconscious thought processes.

Clients who come to me are usually in one of three spaces or stages of healing:

  1. Sense of feeling stuck – but not sure why. They are unsure of what is holding them back. 
  2. They know where their trauma lies, but they don’t know what to do about it.
  3. They are at that stage of change, have tried one or two methods, but need to develop a practice of change that works for them. 

We all know what we should be doing, but we find it extremely difficult to make that change. We need to start with changing the habit of thought, which in turn changes the habit of action. I have studied a lot of the literature surrounding habit change and addictions. We currently live in a society of instant gratification and reward. I call it the ‘Add to Cart and Same Day Shipping’ era. We are constantly stimulating our reward centers of the brain – be it through likes on social media, ping of our phone, sweets, marijuana, or caffeine. To be in a state of calm seems unnerving and odd.

My job is to simplify things for you. What might that look like? Curious? See you in the room.

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