Faculty, Goddard Graduate Institute
Residency Site: Plainfield VT

Email
sarah.vanhoy@goddard.edu

Biography

I am a medical anthropologist, licensed mental health counselor, licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, with a clinical background in integrative and women’s health. My psychotherapy training took place mostly in the Bay Area and was influenced by positive, relational, inter-subjective and evidence-based therapy.  My training in classical Chinese medicine focuses on the energetics of trauma and women’s bodies, with an interest in the translatability of Chinese and functional medicines.  As a medical anthropologist, my research looks into the poetics of the body and the way we make meaning with illness. As an educator, I seek to foster the kind of dialogue and reflection that allows innovative scholar-practitioners to trust their vision, find their people and lead their movements.

Education

PhD, Anthropology, University of Washington;
MA, Medical Anthropology, University of Washington
MA, Counseling Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute
MTCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
BA, University of Michigan

Personal Statement

I am a medical anthropologist, licensed mental health counselor, licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, with a clinical background in integrative and women’s health. Back in the late 1980’s, when I began my training, there was little or no language for ‘integrative mental health’ – let alone any one program designed to support such a study – so I set out, as many Goddard students do, to create the field that I sought to practice in. My learning brought together holistic and systems-oriented medicines with deep, relational therapy inside larger social, cultural and ecological perspectives, and my practice has continued to evolve over the past decades.

Over this same time period, I have seen the language of integrative mental health begin to emerge and take root as an alternative to the dominant paradigm of pharmaceutical biopsychiatry. Questions and conversations about what this might mean (and not mean) are taking place. I understand firsthand how many Goddard students feel when they are longing for a dialogue that barely exists. It takes courage to be the voice that speaks about new things.

Here’s what you need to know about my interests and expertise:

My psychotherapy training took place mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-1990’s. I was heavily influenced by the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group (positive, relational, intersubjective, evidence-based therapy). I have familiarity with many therapy dialects, including somatic therapies; archetypal and psychodynamic approaches; cognitive and behavioral therapies; mindfulness approaches; and a range of social, relational and developmental neurobiologies. I have a strong interest in trauma, the effects of trauma on the body and integrative approaches to trauma treatment.

My training in Chinese medicine began in the early 1990s in Santa Fe and culminated in Seattle, 10 years later. My studies have ranged from classical to contemporary approaches to the medicine, and my teachers have included many of the core teachers who speak to an “inner tradition” of Chinese medicine – Lonny Jarrett, Heiner Fruehauf, Jeffrey Yuen, Tran Viet Dzung to name a few. Again, I find myself interested in the way that Chinese medicine narrates trauma – in particular through contemporary pulse diagnosis and notions about the integrity of the Heart. The emerging research on morphogenesis and embryology and its links to acupuncture meridians is juicy indeed, as is the new, fringe science of Heartmath and its resonance with Chinese medicine.

As a medical anthropologist, I’m fascinated by the ways that medical knowledges are constructed and reproduced, and the way these knowledges construct and reproduce people. I appreciate a language that speaks in the plural about medicines and cultures of medicine, as I feel there is spaciousness, movement and possibility in these words. I am always curious about how medicines make meaning from illness, diagnosis and treatment; how we recognize ourselves in that meaning; and how we make visible the edges of our own truth claims. My own research looks into the hermeneutics of the body and the poetics of medicines. I am fascinated by the intersection of the ‘order of the body’ and the ‘order of the text.’

Recently, I began formal and intensive training in functional medicine, and I am currently looking at the way that ‘systems medicines’ translate across different languages.  It is refreshing to see a move beyond statistically mediated, evidence-based integrative medicine, toward an understanding of the physiological ecosystem that allows for truly individualized care.

As an educator, I seek to foster the kind of listening and reflection that allows innovative scholar-practitioners to trust their vision, find their people and lead their movements. Medicine, among other things, is deeply personal and incredibly plural, and it is up to each of us to be the medicine and bring our gifts to the world. I am interested in supporting the conversations that renew, revitalize and revision what healing is and what it can be.

I live here in Vermont on a piece of land with large gardens, a pond full of frogs, two little boys who play soccer, two dogs that bark, a cat that worries the mice, and a rabbit that makes poop for the gardens.  I spend the summer making sure I have enough wood for the winter, and I spend the winter making sure the fire doesn’t go out. I am honored to be part of the Goddard community – part of the conversations that renew our world.