October 5, 2021
Alumni Spotlight: Sapho
Sapho is a queer non-binary East Asian Medicine practitioner who has a background in social work, nursing, and massage therapy. Their passion to work with people of all genders, bodies, abilities, race, economic status, age has cultivated their experience over the years. They have a strong motivation to work with people who are in any kind of life transition, grief, hormonal transitions, anxiety, depression, sleep and digestion issues. Their focus is to encourage and support an individual’s movement towards freedom and a sense of wholeness by providing a safe space to heal and grow.
Q & A
What was the catalyst for you to explore practicing East Asian Medicine & attend acupuncture school?
I was a bodyworker/massage therapist for several years and started working at an acupuncture clinic when I moved to the Bay. I was really attracted to herbal medicine and learned more about my ancestry and how my grandma used herbs to help people in her village in the Philippines. Everything aligned to move me towards studying medicine as I trusted my process.
Do you have a favorite part of your day or part of treatment?
I really enjoy connecting with people and witnessing their growth as they build awareness of their bodies—holding space as they shift and change. As trust is built, it can feel very intimate to hear stories from their pain.
Do you have a particular vision for the future of our field?
This medicine plays an important role in connecting to our bodies through awareness and felt sense.
The more we’re connected with ourselves, we can connect to other people and all beings and the land we live on. I hope that everyone who goes through Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture school will help share these principles of nature that this medicine is based on.
I also hope that insurance companies will recognize acupuncture more, in a way that doesn’t extract from it, to keep its sacredness.
This world is changing so rapidly, it’s also hard to predict what I’ll be doing with my practice in the coming years. I’m focused on doing whatever I can to be in reciprocity with the land, like farming and making herbal medicine. I’m also developing skills in feng shui and divination. My life is my practice, it’s all integrated. I’m excited to see how everything unfolds.
Often practitioners notice cyclical patterns of symptoms in their patients at different moments in time. Any particular themes in your patients or treatments of late?
With the pandemic and fires, there has been a lot of grief and loss, on top of flare-ups of pain and inflammation. It’s been a heavy time. Also something that has always fascinated me is when people from the same bloodline come in together for treatments and I notice they have similar pain as if it was passed down or ancestral.
I’m seeing more and more that we must heal as a community, our pain isn’t independent of each other.
Inside of your mission statement, you say, “Sessions are aimed to be accessible and inclusive to all.” What does that look like in practice and how do you work towards this goal?
I try to make this medicine as accessible as possible, starting with the clinic space. I try to work in spaces that are accessible to differently-abled folks with ramps and different modifications to how you can lay or sit to get a treatment. I strive to have low to no scent clinic environments to be mindful for folks with multiple chemical sensitivities. I also try to use language during consultation that doesn’t inflict shame, so it feels safe to share. On my intake forms, I always include a space to share pronouns. I also offer sliding scale rates for those who need it.
What advice would you share with current students?
It may be hard to do this under all the pressure of exams and studying, but don’t forget your joy and do things that make you really happy because that’s what will sustain your energy throughout school, and eventually work.
Do you have any resources you recommend for students or practitioners who may not be a part of the LGBTQ+ community but want to make sure that their treatment rooms are safe(r) spaces for that community?
I think a big way for people to create safety not only in the clinic but for our world is to stay updated with trans and gender issues to become an ally. There is way too much death and anti-trans bills in our country right now and it comes from our system and cultural misunderstandings. You can follow Alok Vaid-Menon for a start, an international non-binary poet and artist.
Connect with Sapho
Sapho offers home visits & treats patients in several Bay Area Acupuncture & Wellness clinics. Visit their website saphoflor.com to get in touch.