San Diego alternative healing schools: pioneers to the future

by Catherine Honora Kineavy

an Diego is unique in that it is home to many wonderful schools that teach massage along with other holistic health practices. Being interested myself in the healing arts, I decided to investigate some of the local schools. I met with the administrative staff at some schools and attended open houses at others. I would encourage anyone who is interested not only in holistic health education for a career change, but anyone who is interested in healing themselves do the same. After visiting with the schools it became obvious that each had a unique philosophy and focus. In deciding to attend a specific school, it is essential to determine your own educational needs, and whether or not a specific school will be able to meet those needs.

The process of deciding which school to attend can be very nerve-wracking, yet it can be very encouraging. After my visits to the local schools, I felt excited about the universe's future. The work being practiced and taught is very much on the cutting edge. I believe all these schools are working to inspire students to achieve their own integrated health of body, mind and soul, and then to go out and facilitate healing in others. By doing this these schools are acting as progenitors to a new era of health practitioners.

Through the integration of the traditional disciplines of medicine, philosophy, psychology and religion, these schools are expediting the convergence of Eastern and Western cultures and are advancing our understanding of the cosmos. Their approach is first to teach students to know and heal themselves. By doing this, the students and their clients will begin to understand their connection to the world around them. By being aware of this connection, the healing of the wolrd around us can take place. For example, individuals will see the need to preserve the natural world rather than only exploit it for personal gains.

The following are some of the San Diego area schools' philosophies and orientations.

IPSB (Pacific Beach)

IPSB has been around for almost 20 years. It is known as an innovative school for bodywork. They teach many different forms of massage. I was very impressed with IPSB's practical and academic approaches. It was clear after listening to Ed Maupin, the school's president, that the school's mission was to bring both the hands-on training and the intellectual training together. To this end, the school has two A.A. programs, including and Associate of Occupational Studies as well as an Associate of Arts, and they also have a B.A. program in the Humanities with a concentration in bodywork. The teaching methods are somewhat different too in that there is a dialogue between the students and teachers rather than pure lecture. This seems more like a graduate school situation to me - in fact, IPSB does have a M.A. program in Somatic Studies.

IPSB seems to focus on nurturing the students' creativity and is very much concerned with the students doing their own processing work in an attempt to transform their lives. In knowing who they are, the students will become authentic beings, which I believe is one of the intentions of IPSB. In order to gain experience, IPSB does have an internship clinic where the students can practice what they are learning in class. IPSB fits the president's characterization of what a school is, namely, "a school [is] a community of scholars, faculty and students, inquiring after knowledge and skill, and, yes, truth."

California Naturopathic College (Del Mar)

Bettina Yelman, N.D. founded the California Naturopathic College in 1996. The school offers an Holistic Health Practitioner certification focused in Nutrition and Natural Healing. Although the school is very new, I believe it will be a pioneer in the field.

Yelman's focus is on mentoring students to meet their specific needs. She believes that each student has something unique to offer and that by nurturing that uniqueness, the student's contribution to healing will be greater. The school offers free nutritional lectures the second Tuesday every month from 7-9 pm.

Yelman is in the process of working towards creating a N.D. degree program. If this does happen, all of the work done towards the H.H.P. will be applied to the N.D. degree. There are presently only a few schools in the country that offer N.D. degrees. This school is also interested in helping the students do their own process work before they go into the community to practice their skills. I believe that the nutritional focus is key to this school. Being a practicing macrobiotic vegetarian, I espouse a life theory that nutrition is essential to healing the whole person.

Mueller College of Holistic Studies
(University Heights)

Mueller celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1996. Mueller is a vocational school that prepares students to work in the massage field. The school's administration actively keeps open connections with the local community in an effort to assist their students in finding employment. Mueller has a Holistic Health Practitioner program, a Massage Technician program, a Massage Therapist program and an Acupressurist program. The Massage Technician program is their largest. Mueller's mission is in "providing an environment and curriculum which encourages and facilitates exploration of consciousness, human potential and academic achievement." In addition, Mueller has an extensive program in continuing education. It believes in keeping practicing massage therapists updated with innovations in the field. The public is invited to attend open house once every quarter to better understand the school. Mueller is very much concerned wit exploring human potential through touch.

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine
(Mission Valley)

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine celebrates its 10-year anniversary this month with an open house on February 22. Its philosophy is to combine both theory and practice of Oriental medicine. In addition, it is bridging both Eastern and Western modalities of healing. There are a myriad of certificate programs including Massage Technician, Massage Therapist, Oriental Body Therapist, Holistic Health Practitioner, and a Tui Na certificate. Additionally, it offers a Master of Traditional Oriental Medicine. There is a student clinic where students intern under the direction of licensed acupuncturists. In the clinic, students are able to diagnose and treat, and build relationships with clients. The school is very much concerned with assisting the students to develop skills that will enable them to successfully obtain work and open their own practices when they graduate. The schools' students are known for their ability to pass the California State Board Examination. In fact in 1996, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine had the highest state board pass rate. Pacific College of Oriental Medicine also has a campus in New York.

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine is unique in that UCSD medical students do rotations at the clinic, in this way, the school is acting as a bridge in linking the Eastern and Western medical practices. The school believes that its students will "teach by example. They will prevent, not just cure, disease."

Body Mind College (Sorrento Valley)

Body Mind College is also process oriented. It believes that the education that it imparts will allow students an opportunity for growth by means of clearing some issues that may be holding them back from their full potential. Its program focuses on the Body/Mind/Emotion connection. Body Mind College assists in helping individuals to determine certain belief systems that they aspire to in an effort to determine whether or not these systems are valid. In other words, the school focuses on bringing to the conscious mind the notion that we have choice in everything. And, by participating in their program, you are making a choice to become healthy, if you are willing to investigate your inner self.

Like all the other schools, Body Mind College offers a Massage Technician class, a Massage Therapist class, and two different types of Holistic Health Practitioner classes one with a focus in Body Mind and the other in Nutrition. They also have added a new therapy called Rapid Eye Technology (RET). They offer both training and sessions in this innovative technique. RET is linked to releasing "trapped trauma in the body mind." In addition, Body Mind College has a clinic that offers relaxation massage, combination massage, vitalizing massage and therapeutic facials. If you become a member of the clinic you may receive discounts on massages.

School of Healing Arts (Pacific Beach)

The School of Healing Arts in Pacific Beach offers a myriad of programs including a Holistic Health Practitioner program, a Whole Foods Nutrition Counseling, Hypnotherapy program, Massage Technician program, Zen-Touch Shiatsu Technician program, and a Personal Trainer program. Additionally, on Thursday nights from 7-9 it has a public open house lecture. The lecture topics include Feng-Shui, Oriental Body Assessment, Massage and Holistic Pet Care to name a few. After the lecture, the public is given the opportunity to have a Zen-Touch Shiatsu massage or a parasympathetic massage. Sometimes, the director, Seymour Koblin, will demonstrate oriental body reading on the public. The public enjoys these lectures and continues to return regularly on Thursday nights. The school has a clinic where students are able to practice on the public. In addition to the massage clinic, on Thursday nights during the public open house there is a hypnotherapy clinic. Again, students are able to practice under the guise of instructors, and the public is able to get free therapy.

The school is primarily concerned with giving the students tools to develop skills, but encourages individuals to develop their unique styles whether that be in nutrition counseling or massage. The school publishes Life-Lines, a magazine that contains holistic health articles, on a number of different topics. Life-Lines is distributed throughout San Diego. Another unique aspect of the School of Healing Arts is its Retreat Center. Sometimes classes are held at its Retreat Center in La Jolla. This provides a wonderful healing atmosphere in which to learn.

Give 'em a try

These are my subjective observations. I encourage you, if you are interested, to visit these schools, talk to the administration and students, attend open houses and receive some of the treatments given in the clinics. San Diego presents many choices to learn the healing arts. It truly is a center for holistic healing. Personally, my life has been enriched by both engaging in the practices of the healing arts as a client as well as being a practitioner. I invite you to share in learning more about the ancient and modern practices, you will not be dismayed.

Catherine Honora Kineavy is a graduate student, free-lance writer/edior, poet and practicing macrobiotic vegetarian. She has studied Shiatsu and is currently taking course in nutrition counseling. Her broader interests are in holistic healing, spirituality and politics.