Expert Profile - Leslie Korn
Dr. Leslie Korn
PhD, MPH, LMHC, World Renown Educator, Public Speaker & Integrative Psychotherapist Specializing in Mental Health Nutrition and Somatic Therapies for Trauma Recovery, having provided over 65,000 hours of clinical care integrating in nutrition, herbal medicine, bodywork, yoga and psychotherapy.
Founded the Center for Traditional Medicine, in Mexico.
Director of Research & Education for the Center for World Indigenous Studies
Author of several books including “Rhythms of Recovery,” a groundbreaking book on non-pharmacological treatments for PTSD.
Dr. Leslie Korn’s Bio:
Dr. Leslie Korn is a renowned expert in Natural and Integrative Medicine specializing in the treatment of trauma, chronic illness and optimal wellness. She has provided over 65,000 hours of clinical care integrating in nutrition, herbal medicine, bodywork, yoga and psychotherapy.
Dr. Korn has directed the Center for Traditional Medicine, a public health natural medicine center, working in rural and urban communities in the USA and Mexico. Her experiences working in a remote, indigenous jungle community for 25 years where there was no physician, as well as for many years in the “urban jungle,” of Boston enabled her to test all of these methods on herself and her patients from diverse communities and adapt these principles to diverse environments.
Dr Korn completed her graduate training at Harvard Medical School, where she was a clinical fellow in the department of psychiatry at the Harvard School of Public Health. She is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, National Board Certified in Polarity therapy and in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and National Board Approved Clinical Supervisor. She was clinical director at New England School of Acupuncture, Associate Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies and faculty at the National College of Natural Medicine.
She is the author of Natural Woman: Herbal Remedies for Radiant Health at Every Age and Stage of Life, Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health: A Complete Guide to the Food-Mood Connection, Rhythms of Recovery: Trauma, Nature and the Body, The Good Mood Kitchen, Eat Right, Feel Right, Multicultural Counseling Workbook and Preventing and Treating Diabetes, Naturally.
What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your desire to pursue a career in psychotherapy?
At the age of 9, I had a vision of traveling to the jungle to practice medicine and when I turned 20 I set off on my adventure. When I arrived, there were no cars, no electricity or hot water. I stayed for ten years, the first time..I had grown up in a loving home in the suburbs of Boston but when I arrived in the jungle it felt like this was where I belonged. During those 10 years, I started a school and a health center and I began a daily practice of yoga, meditation, fasting, herbal medicine, bodywork. I also explored altered states with local healers. I gave up drinking and drugs. Over time, I realized, in large part, as a result of these “awareness practices” that I was not living in a little thatched hut in the jungle for no reason! I was in fact healing from a number of traumatic events that I had experienced as an adolescent.
How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? How, if at all did those events impact the way you view how our current system teaches us to treat patients with mental health challenges?
My own process of discovery and healing occurred simultaneously to the evolution of my clinical practice development. I believe healing and learning is lifelong and as clinicians, we can be our own laboratories, testing, and practicing any methods we suggest to others; this also gives us insight into the challenges of change and self-care of people whom we support. Because I trained first on bodywork I brought these methods to my own clinical training at Cambridge hospital when I returned to Boston. I believe from experience that many people with mental and physical distress benefit from therapeutic methods of touch. This was a blasphemous idea in psychiatry and psychology at the time, but I made it my mission to educate mental health practitioners about the story the body tells and its role in healing mind and body and about how therapeutic touch plays a role in that process, even for those deeply hurt by inappropriate touch.
When and why did you decide to actually focus on practicing Integrative Psychotherapy, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
I was fortunate to be introduced to meditation at the age of 16 and acupuncture at age 18 and I was a holistic, clinical practitioner for 10 years before I trained in conventional psychotherapy. As a feminist therapist specializing in post-trauma healing, I was also involved very early on in my life, in concepts of social justice and the role poverty and discrimination play in the development of mental distress. This led to my studies of public health and traditional indigenous practices, in particular among Native peoples in the US and Canada and in Mexico. All of these experiences, both personal and professional, have reinforced my belief in compassionate, empathic, medication-free approaches to mental and physical health.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
For 35 years I practiced somatic psychotherapy integrating bodywork (Cranial Sacral, Polarity therapy, and yoga) with psychotherapeutic post-trauma therapy. I am also a clinical practitioner of nutrition and herbal medicine and several forms of traditional (indigenous) practices. Because my practice now focuses only on telehealth and teaching, I focus solely on providing integrative approaches including mental health nutrition and herbal medicine to help people with both emotional and physical distress to decrease anxiety depression and pain, improve sleep and decrease, eliminate or never start taking medications.
How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
In the early years, the 70’s and 80’s, many people were skeptical but many were already seeking alternatives and I had a full-time practice. I believe understanding these methods are like understanding “Love” One cannot know love by just talking about it; one must experience it from within. With these methods, whether psychotherapy, bodywork, yoga, herbal medicine, and good nutrition, one benefits from the experience and the ongoing practice and exploration. These methods are not a quick fix, but like nature, they work slowly, and steadily. When I worked in private practice in Boston most of my clients were psychiatrists who were searching for alternatives; their experience of these somatic applications to mental health personally was the key for their own transformation and then this allowed them to identify what patients would benefit and to whom to refer. I find that today, many, many people seek integrative approaches and often wonder why they hadn’t been informed of them. But regardless of the methods used, they must be informed by compassion and caring; the healing relationship is essential.