Health

West Meets East: The Father-Daughter Team that Heals the Mind and Body Combining Cognitive Psychology and Chinese Medicine

Our daily lives are demanding and full of professional, personal and familial obligations. At times, in the midst of our routines, we don’t find or make the time to attend to our own physical and emotional needs. Our greatest responsibility is to care for ourselves; when we are in our prime, we are better able to give the utmost attention to all of the facets of our lives. In response to the stress which pulls in so many directions, we may lose our emotional and/or physical balance. Integrating the philosophies of Chinese medicine and cognitive psychology allows Paul and Ilana Shrell-Fox to achieve a comprehensive and unique understanding of the underlying processes in the bodies and minds of their clients, and help them return to a state of balance. 

What is cognitive psychology? Cognitive psychology is the foundation for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). We all have thoughts and feelings that arise automatically and have a direct impact on our behavioral patterns, both positive and negative. When the scales tip towards the negative, we might develop styles of behavior that can become self-destructive. Examples of this type of thinking can include: I will never succeed in school or work, I am a shy person, I am not good at interviews, people dislike me or undervalue me. As a psychologist, Paul helps to identify these automatic and other non-beneficial thinking patterns and curtail their influence. As a result, his clients replace the negative trains of thought and behavior with positive ones. 

DBT combines these cognitive behavioral techniques of emotional regulation with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance and mindfulness derived from meditative practice. It helps to accept certain anxiety states that arise, because they can be informative and even helpful sometimes. This type of therapy has been shown to be particularly effective in the treatment of borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorders and eating disorders. 

What is Chinese medicine? Chinese medicine is a general term for a multi-dimensional field of practice that originates in China and the far east. Its philosophy, which has recently begun to influence western treatments as well, teaches that the mind and body are inseparable. The treatment methods that have grown out of this philosophy view our body as a map with different points that influence our internal and external wellbeing. This interconnectedness makes it possible to treat the individual as a whole. As a practitioner, Ilana employs acupuncture, shiatsu (massage) and Chinese herbal medicine. In shiatsu and acupuncture, she gently stimulates points on the body, causing them to influence the nervous and immune systems – which in turn affect emotional and physical balance. Herbal medicine is an effective method of combining the properties of different herbs to tailor a remedy to a client’s needs. Examples of conditions that can be treated using these methods include: recurring colds; digestive issues stemming from physiological or emotional causes; headaches, including migraines; insomnia; pain management and more. The advantage of Chinese medicine is that practitioners can identify and treat underlying patterns and causes that lead to conditions that may go otherwise unexplained. For example, in instances of recurring strep throat, when even prophylactic antibiotics don’t provide a long-term solution, a combination of herbal medicine and acupuncture can help the body overcome its susceptibility. 

Paul and Ilana have recently begun to work together on a few joint projects, combining the methods of cognitive/dialectical therapy with the principals and methods of Chinese medicine. By combining these two modes of treatment, they are able to treat conditions more efficiently. They are seeking clients coping with symptoms including generalized anxiety, sleeping difficulties and insomnia, general malaise and depressive moods and symptoms. By providing interpersonal feedback, CBT/DBT work on cognition(s), while Chinese medicine addresses the physical aspects that reflect the underlying emotional distress. Through regular consultations, Ilana and Paul form an integrative team with diverse perspectives, ensuring a comprehensive and adaptable treatment plan tailored to each individual’s needs. 

About the Practitioners 

Paul Shrell-Fox, PhD is a licensed educational psychologist with 25 years’ experience in Israel and the USA. He works with both children and adults. His daughter, Ilana Shrell-Fox, is certified in Chinese medicine (Dipl. Ac and C.H.) through Campus Broshim College of Integrative Medicine. She is also certified in pediatric tui na and shiatsu for adults. 

Paul and Ilana can be reached at  050-761-6901 or email paul@shrellfox.com 

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