Pamela A. Pappas, MD, MD(H)
About Dr. Pam
I’m an integrative psychiatrist, classical homeopath, and coach with over 30 years’ patient care experience. My private practice provides natural treatments for adults with depression, anxiety, and stress-related health conditions; I’ve studied and practiced homeopathic medicine since 1999. As a certified Executive and Physician Burnout Prevention Coach, I help my colleagues transform burnout into wholehearted living and working.
Though my training and background are firmly based in conventional medicine, I’ve gone beyond this to help my patients not responding to typical treatments. These additional studies and trainings include
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Nutrition and Functional Medicine
- Botanical medicine
- Naturopathic Medicine
- Mindfulness meditation practices
- Guided Imagery
- Narrative Medicine
- Qi gong
- Therapeutic Touch
- Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
- Osteopathic manipulation (including cranial and cranio-sacral therapy)
- Flower remedies, including Bach and Desert Flower Remedies
- Multiple forms of coaching practice
- Essential oils
- Classical Homeopathy
Learning to effectively apply these additional healing traditions has required many years’ further education, practice, and mentoring; a simple weekend seminar just won’t do. Homeopathy alone takes a lifetime to master, if one ever really does.
Since childhood, I’ve been holding space for others who need witnessing and support in their healing journeys. I wouldn’t have called it “holding space” as a 4-year-old of course, but that’s what it was. Caring for other beings (and appreciating their innate self-healing capacities) just came naturally to me. Over the years I’ve looked after birds, squirrels, insects, fish, plants, snakes, dogs, cats, and people – to name just a few. These relationships have shown me both suffering and miracles. Nature has always been my wisest guide, even when my physician professors were teaching me medical interventions. Doctors arrange things so the patient can heal, remembering his/her own wholeness. We all have a life force that can assert itself, especially when well-cared for.
As Hippocrates said: “The natural force within each of us is the greatest healer of all.” Sometimes though, the hardest thing is remembering that illness and death can be part of healing. Working as a hospice psychiatrist painted this vividly for me.
To me, “holding space” means allowing others to be as completely and openly themselves as possible. This grows with consistent presence and trust. Also, it requires nonjudgmental listening – being a safe place to share complex emotions and experiences like sadness, fear, and trauma. It means providing the time and space for others to access their own wisdom, rather than rushing to “fix” or control things myself. Since the culture of Medicine often encourages the latter, we doctors must palpate our own [sometimes anxious] pulses while working with others. Holding space means not intruding my needs on the situation – and instead, standing for what my patients and coaching clients view as important, helping them to protect and prioritize it. Any suggestions I make are in terms of possibilities, which the person may agree with or not.
My work with stressed-out physicians has been a calling ever since residency, when I saw my creative, intelligent, highly-skilled colleagues and medical students struggle. Of course, I myself had similar experiences; much of my academic career focused on helping to heal the healers (as well as myself). Medical careers don’t have to lead to burnout or suicide, yet they too often do. We forget to include ourselves in our caring activities – and it may even take a major illness to wake us up to what we’ve been ignoring. My intent is reaching my colleagues long before they’re completely burned out or suicidal, so we can develop individualized strategies for their personal situations. The organizations employing doctors have their own part to play in these trends as well. They can become islands of health, or can perpetrate further insanity. Since each doctor and medical organization affects thousands of patients and their families, the influence of this work extends much farther than one might initially see.
The most profound training I’ve ever experienced has been becoming a patient myself. In late November 2016 I became acutely ill with necrotizing pancreatitis, from gallstones I didn’t even know I had. This led to 2 intensely painful hospitalizations, sepsis, near death, and surgery to remove my gall bladder — as well as many months of chronic symptoms and need for recuperation. I learned what it was like to be treated by doctors and nurses who had energy enough to care for me, in contrast to those whose burnout left them more like the walking dead. All this opened my heart further to both my colleagues and other patients. Physicians are trained to ignore or suppress their human vulnerability, while churning through clinical workloads. Experiencing the results of this as a patient made me even more committed to bringing healing and wholeness back into medical culture; it withers without it. Since most physicians are truly service oriented, disconnecting from the human needs of their patients deprives them of the very reasons they chose Medicine in the first place. And they feel badly about providing less attentive patient care than they’d like. It doesn’t have to be this way! I am determined to help shift these trends.
MD: Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Winston-Salem, NC
Internship: Internal Medicine and Family Medicine, Pitt Memorial Hospital/East Carolina University School of Medicine; Greenville, NC
Residency in Psychiatric Medicine: Pitt Memorial Hospital/East Carolina University School of Medicine; Greenville, NC
- Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry (Psychosomatic Medicine): Duke University Medical Center; Durham, NC
- Integrative Medicine: Dr. Andrew Weil’s Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine; Tucson, AZ
- Integrative Holistic Medicine
- MD, Arizona
- MD(H), Arizona
- American Medical College of Homeopathy: Homeopathic Practitioner Program (1000+ hours); Phoenix, AZ
- California Center for Homeopathic Education: 900+ hours’ in-depth training in Vital Sensation Method of Homeopathy; San Diego, CA
- Various other homeopathic teachers: 650+ hours’ live educational seminars and continued training
Coaching Training Experience
- Integrative Health Coaching: Duke Center for Integrative Medicine
- Certified Executive Coach: Center for Executive Coaching
- Certified Physician Burnout Prevention Coach: TheHappyMD
- Member, TheHappyMD.com Coaching Alliance
- Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach Training, 128-hour track: College of Executive Coaching. Anticipated completion with ICF certification, Spring/Summer 2018
Certified Facilitator of Dr. Brené Brown’s Daring Way™ and Rising Strong™ Programs
Trainings for Personal Growth and Development:
- Mindfulness Meditation (Drs. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli) – personal practice for over 25 years
- Mind-Body Medicine (Dr. James Gordon and others)
- Reiki Master since 2000
- Multiple physician healing retreats (Drs. Lee Lipsenthal, Rachel Remen, and others)
- Ho’oponopono (ancient Hawaiian method of problem solving and stress release — Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len and others) – ongoing practice since 2005
Work With Me
- Integrative Psychiatry consultations and treatment for adults 21 and over with depression, anxiety, trauma, and stress-related health conditions. These focus on Classical Homeopathy and nutritional consultation. Homeopathy is a comprehensive system of medicine that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. It’s especially well-suited for people with conditions expressing in multiple systems or levels of being, and who are very sensitive to conventional medications.
- Collaborative Care with other health professionals (therapists, psychiatrists, and other physicians, etc)
- Individual psychodynamic psychotherapy that respects, explores, and helps release unhealthy, unconscious emotional patterns.
- Energy Psychology approaches, including Thought Field Therapy (TFT) and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
- Mindfulness and Self-Compassion practices
- For physicians: complimentary 1 hour Discovery Sessions through TheHappyMD at https://www.thehappymd.com/physician-coach-pam-pappas, in which we explore your situation and provide an individualized Strategic Plan. Depending on the specific results you desire, ongoing coaching may be helpful.
- Speaking and training on Burnout Prevention and Physician Well-Being for physicians, those who love them, their employers, and larger medical organizations.
- Daring Way™ and Rising Strong™ groups and workshops
- Desert Flower Remedies
- Initial complimentary 15-minute phone consultations to answer your questions, and see whether working together might be appropriate and helpful for you.
Services I Provide
Integrative Medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies. This model has clear applications to those with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
The Defining Principles of Integrative Medicine/Psychiatry
- Patient and practitioner are partners in the healing process.
- All factors that influence health, wellness, and disease are taken into consideration, including mind, spirit, and community, as well as the body.
- Appropriate use of both conventional and alternative methods facilitates the body's innate healing response.
- Effective interventions that are natural and less invasive should be used whenever possible.
- Integrative medicine neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically.
- Good medicine is based in good science. It is inquiry-driven and open to new paradigms.
- Alongside the concept of treatment, the broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount.
- Practitioners of integrative medicine should exemplify its principles and commit themselves to self-exploration and self-development.
Pamela A. Pappas, MD, MD(H) is an integrative psychiatrist practicing at Optimal You.
Homeopathy, or Homeopathic Medicine, is the practice of medicine that embraces a holistic, natural approach to the treatment of the sick. It was developed over 200 years ago by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann MD. Like many physicians even today, Dr. Hahnemann anguished over the limitations and dangers of the medicine practiced in his time. He was determined to find more effective - and safer - ways to cure illness.
Dr. Hahnemann noticed that certain substances were toxic in high doses, causing discrete symptoms in healthy people. But when ill people took a very dilute form of the substance corresponding to their symptoms, they got well. This illustrates the Law of Similars, a Hippocratic principle that is also fundamental in homeopathy.
Classical homeopathy embodies a philosophy of deeply understanding people and their illnesses. This allows practitioners to perceive and address the core spiritual dynamic disturbance manifesting in the patient's mental, emotional, and physical symptom pattern. It is holistic because it addresses the person as a whole, rather than focusing on a diseased part or disease.
Homeopaths also study the particular healing qualities of their medicines ("remedies"), which come mostly from natural substances. Unlike botanical and nutritional supplements, homeopathic remedies are regulated by the FDA as medicines. They are produced in homeopathic pharmacies using the U.S. FDA-recognized Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States.
People often confuse homeopathy with general alternative medicine, naturopathic medicine, botanical medicine, and even Bach flower essences. Though homeopathy does employ some
plant-based medicines, and some naturopathic physicians are also excellent homeopaths, homeopathy stands on its own as a system of care.
Classical homeopaths prescribe one specially prepared ("potentized") remedy at a time, based on the patient's particular symptom pattern. Both this unique method of preparing medicines and the precise, individualized way of prescribing them are essential to classical homeopathy. The Law of Minimum Dose-- using the minimum amount of medicine required to generate a healing response -- is another important homeopathic principle. Used successfully by millions of people all over the world, classical homeopathy continues to evolve through research, practice and the discovery of new medicines.
Pamela A. Pappas, MD, MD(H) is an experienced classical homeopath practicing at Optimal You.
Psychodynamic therapy, also known as insight-oriented therapy, focuses on unconscious processes as they show up in a person’s present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are increasing self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior. Using a psychodynamic approach allows the patient to examine unresolved conflicts and symptoms that arise from past dysfunctional relationships, and manifest themselves in the present.
Psychodynamic therapy is the most established of psychotherapies, and it does have a scientific evidence base. Four main schools come together within it: Freudian psychology; Ego Psychology; Object Relations; and Self Psychology. Psychodynamic psychotherapy uses the principles of psychoanalysis, but it is shorter in term -- and typically does not require multiple visits per week. Gaining insight to the origin and nature of long-term internal patterns, the patient can ultimately decide what s/he wants to change. Working through the insights gathered and applying these to currently arising life situations so that changes "stick" is essential for lasting results.
Pamela A. Pappas, MD, MD(H) is a psychodynamic psychotherapist practicing at Optimal You.
Physician Burnout Prevention Coaching and Training
Although physician burnout is at an all-time high (60% in some recent studies), most physicians were never trained to recognize its signs or prevent it in themselves, their professional colleagues, or their organizations. Burnout is a syndrome characterized by:
- Physical and Emotional Exhaustion: Feeling emotionally drained, depleted and worn out by work and not able to recover in non-working hours
- Depersonalization: The Development of a negative, callous and cynical attitude toward patients and their concerns – often with sarcasm, and feeling put upon by patients.
- Reduced Sense of Personal Accomplishment: The tendency to see one’s work negatively, without value or meaningless (“what’s the use?”) and see one’s self as incompetent. The standardized questionnaire measuring these three scales of physician burnout is called the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI).
The developers of the MBI described physician burnout as:
”… an erosion of the soul caused by a deterioration of one’s values, dignity, spirit and will.”
Physician Burnout can be thought of as one end of a continuum, with Physician Engagement on the other end:
Physician Burnout <—————————–> Physician Engagement
Most physicians go into medicine to help others, and experience a feeling of purpose; it is a vocation and calling for them. Feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction accompany being fully engaged in one’s career. When doctors can use their skills with excellence, relate deeply with and benefit others, AND also practice consistent self-care to replenish themselves when tired, this feeling of ͞engagement͟ is possible.
A host of factors edges physicians towards burnout – including:
- Medicine brings a high level of responsibility with little control over outcomes
- Working with ill people who are generally not happy to see us
- Medicine reinforces workaholism, a pattern that often begins before medical school
- No training in personal boundaries, and how to maintain them
- Being plunked into leadership of medical teams with only dysfunctional ͞top down͟leadership examples to draw on
- Doctors end up as the rate-limiting step in the system – and can only go so fast
- Isolation from peers, due to intense work demands
- Hostile legal environment, and worry about lawsuits waiting to happen
- Dealing with insurance companies and other payors’ ever-changing demands
- Shifting organizational structures that change medical practices and patient referrals
- Political uncertainty
- Personal and family needs evolve and change over time
- And many more
The presence of physician burnout has been shown to
- Decrease physician’s professionalism and the quality of medical care they provide
- Increase medical errors and malpractice rates
- Lower patient compliance and satisfaction with medical care
- Increase rates of physician substance abuse, intent to leave practice, depression, and its worst complication: suicide.
Fortunately, doctors can be trained to learn the signs and symptoms – AND how to combat burnout when they are edging towards it. Preventive measures on individual, organizational and leadership levels are available. When physicians learn to employ their own personal anti-burnout strategies, the benefits extend beyond themselves to their patients, families, staff and wider organization, and even the payors.
Pamela A. Pappas, MD, MD(H) is a certified Physician Burnout Prevention Coach, and a member of TheHappyMD Coaching Alliance. She is also a certified Executive Coach.
Daring Way™/Rising Strong™
The Daring Way™ and Rising Strong™ processes are both highly experiential methodologies based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. These processes are designed for work with individuals, couples, families, work teams, and organizational leaders. They can be facilitated in clinical, educational, and professional settings.
These programs are designed to provide time and space to dig deep into the things that get in the way of living the authentic lives we truly desire. Using metaphor, story-telling, experiential and creative exercises, we examine the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are holding us back — and work to identify the new choices and practices that will move us toward more authentic and wholehearted living.
Daring Way™ exercises are designed to:
- Gain insight into barriers to intimacy and connection in relationships
- Identify the masks and strategies we use to avoid vulnerability
- Cultivate the courage to embrace all parts of ourselves
- Engage our sense of worthiness in our current relationships and cultivate hope for new ones
- Expand awareness of what is getting in the way of living wholeheartedly, of daring greatly.
Rising Strong™ workshops are designed to provide a process for dealing with the inevitable failures that come when we commit to living courageously. Our life’s stories are not defined by how we fall, but how we get back up. We learn to:
- Recognize emotion
- Get curious about emotion, and how they connect with our thoughts and behavior
- Get honest about the stories we make up about our struggles
- Challenge our assumptions and confabulations
- Identify what’s truth, what’s self-protection, and what needs to change
- Write a new story based on what we’ve learned
- Allow this new story to change the way we engage with the world
Pamela A. Pappas, MD, MD(H) is a Certified Daring Way™ and Rising Strong™ facilitator.
Energy psychology (EP) is a mind-body approach to understanding and improving human functioning. EP focuses on the relationship between bioenergy systems, neuro and electro physiological processes, and mental functions involving thoughts, emotions, sensations, and behavior.
EP applications incorporate natural energetic components into the treatment process that include, but are not limited to, meridians, chakras, biofields, and bio-electrical and electromagnetic activity of the body, the nervous system and the heart.
EP practitioners often combine cognitive and physical interventions with activation of one or more of the human bio-energy systems. Some practitioners focus on the way in which thought and intention are expressed in the bioenergy system, and explore the therapeutic value of precise use of language and congruent intention. EP approaches are often exceedingly rapid, have little to no adverse effects, are usually experienced as self-empowering by clients and patients, and are easily amenable to self-help protocols.
EP models have been beneficially applied to assessment and treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, pain, stress, psychophysiological issues, and self-sabotaging behaviors by a broad range of healthcare providers, to regulate affect and promote emotional and physical health.
“Treatment results have been shown to be enduring and relatively rapid. There are currently over 60 research studies, including multiple Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) published in professional and refereed journals, confirming the treatment value of EP. Taken as a body of knowledge, these findings suggest that EP meets the criteria for evidenced-based treatment.”(ACEP website)
Read more at www.energypsych.org
Thought Field Therapy (TFT)
Thought Field Therapy (TFT) is a technique for the rapid relief of all kinds of emotional distress. It works like acupuncture, without the needles, stimulating the body’s energy meridians to resolve problems with the body’s emotional control system. The patient taps on various parts of the body with their fingers. The results are amazing as many emotional problems can often disappear in minutes.” — tftpractitioners.net
Thought Field Therapy uses a tapping sequence in the form of a healing code that balances the body’s energy system and allows you to significantly reduce or eliminate most negative emotions within minutes, while promoting the body’s own healing ability. This is effective in finding immediate relief, but additional techniques are typically needed to stabilize the root issues.
Learn more at tfttapping.com.
Desert Flower Essences
Flower essences are infusions of flowers in water, potentized through sunlight, and stabilized in solutions of brandy and water. Suffused with the flower's vibrational imprint, they each resonate with -- and can strengthen -- different universal qualities in us. Flower essences can be used to safely support healing and health.
Flower essences contain no scent (except the brandy added for stabilization), and are distinct from essential oils. They are also extremely dilute, thus differing from herbal tinctures which are created from concentrated extracts of different plant parts. A few drops at a time can be taken directly, placed in water, or even placed in a mist bottle and sprayed on the skin or around a room.
Desert Flower Essences are co-created between Cynthia Athina Kemp Scherer in Tucson, AZ and flowers growing wild in the Sonoran Desert. Ms. Scherer has researched and worked with these essences since 1983, and has also trained others (including Dr. Pappas) in their use.
Desert Flower Essence Therapy is the practice of using desert flower essences in a consistent, purposeful way to enhance emotional harmony and spiritual well-being. Through their vibrational qualities, Desert Flower Essences can help us become aware of and release deeply conditioned and limiting ways of perceiving ourselves and others; destructive behavior patterns can resolve.
Flower essences work on an energetic, rather than on a direct physical or chemical, level. There are many forms of energy that are imperceptible to our senses, but which still impact us: x-rays, UV light from the sun, and microwaves are a few examples.
Flower essences cannot substitute for mechanical and surgical procedures such as setting broken bones or repairing anatomical problems -- but they can ease post-surgical healing processes on a subtle level.
Flower essences can be used with other forms of treatment, including homeopathy, to assist in opening awareness. Becoming aware of previously ignored or unknown aspects of ourselves can be uncomfortable at times, but use of Desert Flower Essences can also help if this arises.
Pamela A. Pappas, MD, MD(H) uses Desert Flower Essences in her practice at Optimal You, and has been trained by Cynthia Athina Kemp Scherer (their co-creator) to do this.
“Mindfulness” describes a mental state of nonjudgmental attention to and awareness of the present moment -- along with calm acknowledgment of feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations as they arise. Mindfulness can also describe a type of meditation practice which cultivates this awareness, a quality all human beings possess.
According to Mindful.org, “mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Mindfulness meditation comes from early Buddhist traditions over 2500 years old, developed to foster
- clear thinking
- open-heartedness, and
- the alleviation of suffering
Despite its Buddhist origins, mindfulness meditation requires no special religious or cultural belief system. In fact, Jon-Kabat-Zinn PhD is internationally known for bringing these practices to the West – creating a research-based program called “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” that has benefited people from all walks of life. This program has been a helpful ancillary form of treatment for many patients with conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, anxiety, psoriasis, and other chronic conditions caused or exacerbated by modifiable lifestyle factors.
As one aim of mindfulness is to take greater responsibility for one’s life choices, it may both strengthen one’s internal resources for optimizing health, and evoke greater engagement with one’s health care too.
Ample research documents effectiveness of mindfulness practices in avoiding relapse in depression, addictions, and also in many forms of anxiety. Studies of its applications in trauma survivors are underway as well. Some forms of psychotherapy which use these practices include Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. It is not a panacea, though. Psychiatrists and therapists keep aware of potential pitfalls with certain types of people, conditions, and timing. For instance, actively psychotic patients may worsen with long periods of silence in an extended mindfulness retreat. Once symptoms remit though, the person may be well able to participate and benefit from such programs.
Mindfulness can be taught as part of formal meditation practice, and also as integrated into everyday life situations. It isn’t about changing what you think or feel – but about becoming gradually more aware of these things in a moment-to-moment way. Through mindfulness practice, you can develop a wiser and more compassionate relationship with your own mind and body. This pays dividends not only in how you feel personally, but also in the quality of your relationships with others.
Pamela A. Pappas, MD, MD(H) uses mindfulness skills in her practice, and has been trained in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction with Drs. Jon-Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli, and others. She has been practicing mindfulness meditation herself for over 25 years.
What we eat has a direct impact on our physical and emotional health. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation available these days from many sources. Some of the information on the Internet is there to sell products; some is just personal advice that lacks scientific foundation.
If you have questions about your food choices and habits, and how you can feel better and be healthier, you might like to work with someone who has sound scientific training in nutrition. Our approach to nutritional guidance is not gimmicky. We do not sell nutritional products or advocate rigid diets. As a matter of fact, we don’t even like the word “diet” because it conjures up a number of stereotypes that are not helpful.
We offer the latest nutritional information. Once you are armed with information, we believe you can make choices from a position of being aware and mindful, and can both enjoy food and choose foods to meet your health and personal goals.
Private voicemail: 480-656-9218
For further information: www.drpampappas.com
- I am on no insurance panels. This allows for maximum privacy and individualization of your care. I choose to work for your personal well-being, rather than for insurance contracts.
- While you are responsible for professional fees, some out-of-network reimbursement may be possible through your insurance company. I provide detailed receipts at each visit, that you can submit to them for review.
- Please be aware that if you do submit an insurance claim, most insurance companies store your diagnosis and treatment information indefinitely. Please call your insurance company if you’re looking for a psychiatrist who accepts your insurance plan.
- Physician Coaching services are not reimbursable through health insurance, but may be legitimate professional development or CME expenses.
National Center for Homeopathy
American Institute of Homeopathy
American Medical College of Homeopathy
Homeopathic Educational Services
Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States
British Homeopathic Association
Desert Flower Essences & Experiencing Desert Plants
Desert Alchemy — Tucson, AZ
Desert Botanical Gardens — Phoenix, AZ
Tohono Chul Park — Tucson, AZ
Meditation and Guided Imagery
Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society
Belleruth Naparstek’s Guided Imagery Center
Tara Brach, PhD
Center for Mindful Self-Compassion
Holistic and Integrative Medicine
Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine
University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine
Andrew Weil, MD
Tieraona Low Dog, MD
James Lake MD
Wholistic Healing Research — Daniel Benor MD
Judith Orloff MD
Other Healthy Information
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Medline Plus — health information for the public
Consumer Lab — Testing and Reviews of Nutritional Supplements
Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health