Let me start with where I am today in my practice. Then, for those who like to dive deeper, I’ll tell you how I got here.
Where I am: my practice today
I believe the body has a reason for everything it does. Every behaviour is a clue as to what might be awry. Symptoms are not aliens to be eradicated; rather they are signals to attend to, in order to better understand. Once you stop trying to get rid of the symptoms, the door to solving the problem springs open.
And the body is relentless in its ability to use symptoms to get attention – relentless in its work to be well. Day in, day out, there’s that body of yours again, doing that same thing to attract your attention – upping the ante if you are confused by the purpose of the symptoms or refuse to listen. Nothing presented is unhelpful, random or frivolous – not that huge facial rash, not the sudden hair loss, not the anxiety attacks – in terms of planning how to be and live healthy.
Time, listening, and technology
Where does this take us? It takes us to a place where my critical tools are a deep understanding of physiology and pathology, time, listening and technology. You have a critical tool too, I’ll get to that in a bit.
For those of you who present with complex interconnected issues (the larger side of my practice), it takes time for you to explain, and for me to take in, all the multitudinous threads of the often challenging behaviour of your body. Essentially, you have to talk hard, I have to listen hard.
Next, we use the best of modern testing to find out more.
Then I move to connecting the dots, finding the purpose of the body’s efforts, and then strategizing based on the information we’ve gathered. I share particularly challenging cases with my mentor team; we’re scattered across the continent and we Zoom regularly to share ideas and collaborate on our most complex cases.
Now you and I work together on implementing the strategy. I find treatments and new patterns to help you be well; you start to see and trust the incredible abilities of your body. We can do this! More on this at the end of the next section …
How I got here …
While I played many sports in high school and worked summers as a lifeguard, I was quite the nerd. I loved school, loved studying, loved learning. I could never get enough, I still can’t.
When it came time to pick a major at university, I chose physiology, the “the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system.”
It turned out to be an inspired choice. When a family member was diagnosed with a chronic disease, I instinctively zoned in the opportunity of looking at things in a different way.
I became interested in naturopathic medicine; I liked, most of all, the naturopathic thought process. I loved the focus on science and minutia, the careful attention to detail, transformed by the attention to the bigger picture.
Yes, I thought. I could think that way.
I began to study naturopathic medicine formally, becoming increasingly intrigued with complex cases, the people who have been taught to think of their bodies as broken. I saw the opposite. I saw people whose bodies were incredibly resilient and capable of creating many defence patterns to protect themselves.
I’ve been intensely lucky with mentors throughout my career; to this day am a member of a mentorship group. Being a mentee taught me how to listen hard. How to think the way smart and interesting people think, how to solve the puzzle. How seemingly small inputs on the journey to health can be transformative. I learned and learned and learned, diving into areas such as mold toxicity, environmental illness, multiple chemical sensitivity, chronic infections, and chronic fatigue along the way.
Eventually, I opened my own large multi-disciplinary natural health clinic. It was an exciting and successful 15-year experience. Then Covid came and it gave me an opportunity to reflect and evaluate my career and focus. I chose to close the clinic and focus on what I loved to do which was to work with patients.
Belief systems rule
Most importantly, I learned about the impact of perspective and belief systems – how each one of us creates our own stories, and how astonishingly impactful these stories are upon our own health.
In trying to create situations that feel safe, in today’s world, we often put ourselves on perennially high alert, flooding our bodies with cortisol and stress hormones, raising our blood sugars, and so on. A state of elevated threat is at the root of many chronic illnesses.
Belief systems – how truly empowering empowerment is
It’s the magic, the art piece – the way that things transform when we bring the worlds of science and hope together. It’s about getting the person to realize how powerful and amazing their body is.
Dr. Sharon Kelly BSc (Hon.), N.D., IFMCP
Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Certification in Functional Medicine, Institute of Functional Medicines, 2015
Functional Medicine is an evolved way to practice medicine, engaging both the patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. A practitioner might start with the questions: “Why has function been lost?” and “How can we support the return of the function?”
Certification in Mind Body Medicine from the Bensen-Henry Institute (BHI) at the Harvard Medical School, 2005
The MHI mission is to fully integrate mind-body medicine into mainstream health care by means of rigorous, evidence-based research and clinical application of the work.
Onsite facilitator for the Institute of Functional Medicine at their “Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice”
Helping Family Doctors and Specialists to solidify their skills in functional medicine.
Sharon is completing the Fellowship Program at the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS). This first-of-its-kind program is designed to support medical professionals in delivering the best possible care to children with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs conditions.
Speaker and attendee
Sharon has attended many advanced clinical training seminars across the US and Canada in the past 10 years. These include advanced training in diagnosing and treating mold and mycotoxin illness, Lyme disease, Environmental Medicine and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
Sharon graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and then from The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine as a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine in 2005. She is a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors, the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, the Institute for Functional Medicine and the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs.