I am often asked how I came to work with acupuncture and massage- it’s one of those questions that has a short and a long answer. A short version is that when I finished school I completed training in bookbinding and book design, but after graduating I could only realistically find design work involving long hours on a computer. (Bookbinding is sadly a profession that is becoming extinct.) Anything more than a few hours in front of a computer screen turns me into a zomby! And so I changed the path I was on and decided to find a way to work with a skill using my hands and in a way that interacts and helps people around me.
Having had an interest and dedicated practice in qigong since I was a teenager, I naturally gravitated towards Chinese medicine and acupuncture. I was also lucky to have a few mentors in acupuncture from the start, which has been extremely lucky in orienting my studies and seeing how powerful and effective acupuncture can be in a real-life clinic. From the moment I began my training I had a sense of coming home, of feeling grateful and inspired to be aligning with an art that resonates with me deeply.
After completing a BSc. in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, and tui-na from the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine (Europe’s leading acupuncture training), I embarked on a 6-week clinical internship at Vietnam’s largest teaching hospital, the Institute of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine in Ho Chi Minh City. This turned out to be an invaluable experience and also a real adventure, as I was only able to organize the internship from having personal connections in Saigon and rather than studying in a large group, it was just me and another acupuncturist from Quebec, Canada. The advantage of training in Vietnam rather than China is that many of the doctors speak good English (and often French, Spanish, or Russian too!) The style of acupuncture is also different, more akin to the Japanese approach.
The hospital had a whole floor dedicated to the treatment and palliative support of cancer, a whole floor for stroke rehabilitation, and 2 floors for out-patient treatments. They used a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, western medicine, physiotherapy, diet therapy, massage therapy, and qigong/yoga. During the internship I was assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of hundreds of patients. I was also able to form relationships with some of the leading acupuncturists and massage therapists in Vietnam, and completed personal training in their methods- including Professor Truong Thin and Dr. Nguyen Viet Nga.
Whilst in Saigon I also came to hear about a unique system of reflexology that had mapped out hundreds of points on the face and treated a wide range of conditions by stimulating different facial points with specially designed massage tools. I was curious and after receiving a treatment was even more so, as it created a powerful and positive shift in how I felt. I began to learn about this system and on subsequent trips have spent much time learning in various ‘Dien Chan’ clinics and consolidating this system with my understanding and practice of acupuncture and healing massage. A specific teacher and master Dien Chan practitioner had a great influence on me- Dr. Tran Dung Thang. Although he is well into his 90’s, he treats up to a hundred patients a day, starting from 5am! His work ethic and energy is incredible, and he successfully treats complex conditions and illnesses. But beyond this, what truly leaves an impression is the heart and compassion he has for others- a genuine desire to take away people’s suffering.
Over the years I have been fortunate to learn from many of the world’s top healers and acupuncturists, and for me there is a clear and similar trait in all great healing work- a deep impulse to relieve others of pain and suffering. When combined with a clear understanding and insight into the nature of disease this creates the most positive results. This is my aspiration and is a continual journey, as we are all continually discovering new and unknown truths in science, medicine, and life.
Over the years I have developed and expanded my repertoire of skills, completing post-graduate studies in a range of fields and therapies, some of which include:
Jin Shin Do (mind-body acupressure) w/Margot Messenger - 2009
Dr. Richard Tan’s Balance Method Acupuncture - 2010
Dr. Wang Juyi’s Applied Channel Theory w/Jason Robertson - 2011
Qigong Tuina w/Donald Rubbo - 2011
Yijing Studies w/Richard Birschinger - 2011
Advanced Acupuncture Theory w/Profesor Truong Thin - 2012
Traditional Thai Massage w/Suttipong Muangsom - 2012
Cha Dao (Chinese Tea Ceremony) w/Zhongxian Wu - 2012
Dao De Jing & Dao-Yin Studies w/Andrew Nugent-Head - 2013
Jeffrey Yuen’s Classical Chinese Massage w/Tim Sullivan - 2013
Arvigo Maya Abdominal Massage w/Amanda Porter - 2013
Advanced Thai Massage w/May Raksakun - 2014
Scar Tissue Rejuvenation w/Phillip Strong - 2014
Musculoskeletal Conditions w/Yefim Gamgoneishvili - 2014
Storytelling & Myth w/Dr. Martin Shaw - 2014
Classical Yin-Style Bodywork w/Andrew Nugent-Head - 2015
Advanced Acupressure & Healing Meditation w/Nguyen Viet Nga - 2015
Acupuncture, Face Reading & Trauma Resolution w/CT Holman - 2016
Tea Ceremony w/Master Wu-De of Tea Sage Hut - 2016
Yeung Ma Lee Style Tai Chi w/M. Douglas & Yeung Ma Lee - 2005-2017
Jing-Dong Gong & Clinical Qigong w/Michael Lomax - 2010- 2017
Vipassanna, Samatha & Usada Healing Meditation w/Burgs - 2008-2017
More recently I have been developing innovative treatments to help people suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and stress disorders. I regularly give qigong teaching and tea ceremony at Khiron House, a leading trauma centre in Oxfordshire, and have recently published an article on the relationship between Tea & Trauma in the pioneering tea magazine, Global Tea Hut. For the last 3 years I have been a visiting consultant for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong, giving Dien Chan facial reflexology treatments. These trips have been very successful and the treatments widely praised.