I will be giving the keynote 1:20 – 2:40 PM (Pacific Time), “Burnout: Soul Loss & Soul Recovery in Mental Health.” I’ve been interested in exploring the significant overlap between the ancient condition of soul loss and the modern occupational syndrome of burnout. I will be discussing burnout and soul loss from a variety of perspectives. I will be presenting material from my next book, Caring for Self & Others: Tools for Transforming Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, and Soul Loss. I have signed a contract with Creative Courage Press for publication early 2023.
I was originally going to present 3/7/20, but this was just at the start of the pandemic and as many events at that time it was cancelled. I am so exicted to be able to finally present this talk and the concepts of burnout and soul loss have a much deeper and personal meaning to me, now, after recent years.
The conference is $20 for students and $60 for general public and professionals. 6 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) are available.
Here is a link to the Conference Schedule, the theme is “Maintaining a Soulful Approach to Psychological Research & Practice: Swimming Upstream in a Technological Society.”
“Maintaining a Soulful Approach to Psychological Research and Practice: Swimming Upstream in a Technological Society”
June 25, 2022, 8:30 am – 5:30pm, Seattle University
Oberto Commons – Sinegal 200
My talk on “Burnout: Soul Loss & Soul Recovery” seems even more relevant now than it did when the conference was originally planned for March of 2020 – at that time the pandemic was just evolving and we didn’t know one day to the next whether we would be gathering or not. I was already, at that time, beginning to look at the similarities between burnout in health care and the ancient concept of soul loss. After all, what is it that stops burning in burnout? What is it that we lose when we feel we are just pushing ourselves through the motions at work? Where have our hearts gone? Where have our souls gone? Now, after two years of pandemic life and social distancing, as well as the larger social injustice issues and division in the USA and war and conflict in the world, it seems even more vital than ever that we re-connect to that which makes us fully human.
For a number of years, Seattle University used to host the Search for Meaning Book Fesitval that I attended regularly. It saddens me that SU is no longer running that program since 2017, but I am honored to speak there and be part of the tradition of inquiry into life’s meaning and greater purpose. Here is the abstract for the talk:
“Burnout: Soul Loss & Soul Recovery in Mental Health Care”
presented by David R. Kopacz, MD
Burnout and compassion fatigue are becoming the norm in healthcare after two years of a pandemic. The World Health Organization recognizes burnout as an “occupational phenomenon,” with feelings of energy depletion; increased mental distance from one’s job, negativism, and cynicism; and reduced professional efficacy. While many perspectives on burnout focus on prevention through stress management techniques, we can look at burnout as “soul loss” which can then become the beginning of a transformational healer’s journey. A transformational perspective shifts our focus to the care of the soul and on how to recover soul once it is lost – this is a valuable skill for us as healers to use in our own lives as well as in our therapeutic work with clients.
David Kopacz is a psychiatrist in Primary Care Mental Health at Seattle VA and a National Education Champion with the VA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation. He is an Assistant Professor at University of Washington and is certified through the American Boards of: Psychiatry & Neurology; Integrative & Holistic Medicine; and Integrative Medicine. David is a graduate of University of Illinois, undergraduate in Urbana-Champaign and medical school and psychiatric residency in Chicago. He has practiced in the US and New Zealand. His publications include: Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine; Caring for Self & Others: Transforming Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, and Soul Loss (in press); and with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD; Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality; Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons for Children Ages 10-100.
The excerpt is entitled “The Gates of Paradise: Shamanic Memories from an Indian Visionary,” and is availabe online in Parabola Summer 2022 Edition with the theme of Ancestors. It is currently available online, but the whole issue is worth reading, with an articles on P. L. Travers, Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela, and many different topics on the theme of Ancestors.
The article also features two of Joseph Rael’s paintings, “Sage Woman becomes visible to – bless “the People,” and “Crystal Chamber,” which I’ll include below.
We are very happy that this book is getting some notice as it is an autobiography of Joseph’s life specifically aimed at passing on wisdom to the next generation, how fitting that it is in the Ancestors issue of Parabola: The Search for Meaning. The book was also recognized as a winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People.
It is a great honor to receive the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People – Grades 7-12 – for our most recent book Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons for Children Ages 10-100! This is an annual book award put on by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in New Jersey.
Paterson, is of course, home to the poet/doctor William Carlos Williams and the great beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
I visited Paterson in July 2017 when I was in New Jersey for work. I bought a copy of William Carlos Williams’ Paterson, and read it by the Great Falls of the Passaic River. If you can’t make it to Paterson in person, there is always the Jim Jarmusch film, “Paterson,” about a poet bus driver named Paterson.
“What do I do? I listen to the water falling. (No sound of it here but with the wind!) This is my entire occupation.” (William Carlos Williams, Paterson, p. 46).
Thank you to The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College for this award!
“Healing is a very simple thing – all you do is stop separating things – on whatever level the separation is occuring. Whether it is you viewing your body as separate from your mind or your spirit being separate from your mind, or you viewing yourself as separate from nature.” (David Kopacz)
I agree with Marianela – that whenever we talk – we could go on for 3 days! Such an interesting and heart-warming conversation! You can watch the video of the interview here.
Our next book has released! Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons for Children ages 10-100 is 130 pages of Joseph’s lessons for the people of the Earth. The book has 43 art works by Joseph and 14 photographs. We decided on the “ages 10-100” because we’ve also thought about writing a book for younger children. Also, this is our first book for children and it was challenging to bridge Joseph’s ideas and create a story that kids of all ages could enjoy.
Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) was born on the Southern Ute Reservation in 1935 and grew up at Picuris Pueblo in New Mexico. Joseph’s life took him across the country and around the world. After a vision in 1983, he built a Sound Peace Chamber, and then worked on building over 60 chambers around the world — leading to recognition by the United Nations for his work for world peace. Through his friend and co-author, David Kopacz MD, Joseph shares his life and lessons for people, young and old, growing through the transition from childhood into adulthood.
Joseph says that when he was sent to the Santa Fe Indian boarding school, they were trying to make American kids out of Indian kids, in this book, Joseph tells us, “I am trying to make Indian kids out of American kids.” Joseph passes on his wisdom and artwork to the next generations who will inherit the many problems that we have created in breaking the medicine wheel. Joseph tells us, “Let’s not leave the next generations in so much mystery about the physical and spiritual worlds. Let’s educate them from the beginning about the way of the shaman.” We are already born with everything we need, we just need to make sure that as we grow up, we don’t forget who we are.
Here are the generous endorsements we’ve received for the book:
In Becoming Who You Are, David Kopacz & Beautiful Painted Arrow (Joseph Rael), a Tiwa elder, have presented a series of marvelous stories for teenagers and young adults about how to become a human being. This is timely wisdom from Native America, and Joseph’s past, for an age in which the guidance is confusing and truth is optional. The stories help readers sort through the possibilities for who they will become, while learning about and valuing culture & diversity. They describe Joseph’s lessons learned from boarding school, World War II, Pueblo Ceremonies, life on the reservation, and the process of creating sound chambers on guidance from spirits. I heartily recommend it for readers of all ages. We all need the wisdom that David & Joseph offer us.
―LEWIS MEHL-MADRONA MD, PhD
Psychiatry Residency Training Director, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center Executive Director, Coyote Institute Associate Professor of Family Medicine, University of New England Author, Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Narrative Medicine, and Healing the Mind through the Power of Story
Becoming Who You Are is a remarkable narrative that does not fall into prescribed categories—sharing Native American insights in an engaging and charming manner, always speaking to never down to kids as the rightful heirs to our planet. Joseph Rael and David Kopacz are healers and carriers of timeless wisdom working tirelessly for the betterment of life. They convey the becoming of being in lucid text combining autobiography, literature, ecology, spirituality, travelogue, history, magic and wisdom illuminated with beautiful art. Grounded, with shining optimism, this book meanders purposefully like a pure river sourced from a perennial spring of wisdom and will surely motivate kids to fall in love with the earth and—their own selves. In our ravaged age, the book reminds us of interconnectedness and that all that we need is—here—sacred and real—listen!
―USHA AKELLA MSt Co-founder of Matwaala: South Asian Diaspora Poets’ Collective, Poet and Author, “I Thought a Thought,” Ek An English Musical on the life of Shirdi Sai Baba, The Way of the Storm: An English Musical on the life of Meera Bai, I Will Not Bear You Sons, The Waiting, and A Face that Does Not Bear the Footprints of the World
This story of two very different men with common visions, may serve as a guide for all who seek to continually learn about themselves through the lenses of their own history and the cultures of those around us.
―SHUYUN DAVID LO MD
Psychiatrist, University of California Santa Cruz Student Health Center
Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life and Lessons for Children by Joseph E. Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and David Kopacz MD is a book that shows us there are other important ways to teach that can speak to us all. Through storytelling, Beautiful Painted Arrow lays out many of life’s core values. We learn that the Tiwa word for God is Wah-Mah-Chi, which is also everything, and is the core to the love of learning which is the secret to being human. This lovely book is written for children, but the authors freely admit that it was written for those in the middle between the two worlds of childhood and adulthood, so it really applies to us all.
―BRADFORD FELKER MD
Psychiatrist, Seattle VA, Professor University of Washington, Captain United States Navy Reserve
As I read Becoming Who You Are, I envisioned myself sitting at the feet of an elder, asking him, “Tell me the story of your life―share your wisdom with me so that I may live it and one day share it with others.” Coming from years and years of Joseph’s sage wisdom and insights, this book is a beautiful invitation to not only learn, but also create your own story—through art, music, writing, reading—or however the spirit moves you.
―MAGDALINE DeSOUSA Author, The Forgotten Mourners: Sibling Survivors of Suicide, What’s Real, Mama?, What’s Brave, Mama?, and coming soon, What’s Wrong With My Family? Growing Up in an Alcoholic Home
The inspiring story and wise words of the elder, Beautiful Painted Arrow (Joseph Rael), speak to the heart of the child within all of us. His life’s journey and teachings give us hope for a better world, one where we live in peace and harmony with our fellow humans and the natural world.
—TWIN SISTERS, JANE LISTER REIS & MARGIE LISTER MUENZER co-authors of the children’s books, Si’ahl and the Council of Animals: A Story of Our Changing Climate for Children and Their Parents; Si’ahl & Friends Coloring and Activity Book; and Margie’s Nature’s Gifts: A Poetry Coloring Book.
Jonathan McFarland, President of Doctor as Humanist, and I recently had the honor of presenting at the University of Washington Nature & Health conference on Thursday, October 14th, 2021. Our overall talk was Nature, Medical Humanities, and Medical Activism. Jonathan presented on Nature & Medical Humanities and I presented on Nature & Medical Activism. Here is the powerpoint from my talk.
We’ve got a great line up of speakers and round table panelists, including Bob Lawrence, one of the founders of Physicians for Human Rights and Center for a Livable Future Professor Emeritus in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the founding director of the Center for a Livable Future; Rachel Corby, author of ReWild Yourself: Becoming Nature; Julia Corbett, author of Out of the Woods: Seeing the Nature in the Everyday; Lewis Mehl-Madrona, author of Coyote Medicine and Narrative Medicine; Qing Li, author of Forest Bathing: How Trees can Help You Find Health & Happiness, amongst many others. Link to the program.
One of the projects we are doing as part of the symposium is the Tree of Medicine – a photomosaic on the Mosaically site. You can post on Instagram or Twitter with the hash tags: #NatureMed2021 and #DoctorHumanist and we’ll upload your photos into the Tree of Medicine. You can write a few words of why this photo is important to you and how it relates to Nature & Medicine. Here are a few of the photos I’ve posted.
The idea behind this conference is to highlight the many benefits of nature & health while also expanding our idea of being a medical professional to including the health of the Earth. We are in a symbiotic relationship with Nature and cannot exist apart from Nature. In fact, we ourselves are nature, we are made up of nature, our backyards are nature. I’ll be giving a workshop on Saturday 11/13/21 with a focus on Nature is Here, Now. The care of Nature begins with the care of ourselves, the nature of our homes, the nature of our backyard, and breaks down the artificial separations of humans/nature and city/nature. I’ll be joined by a couple of great psychiatry residents I’ve been working with, Eunice Stallman, MD (who has been doing an elective on Narrative Medicine) and Lewis Kerwin, MD (who has been doing an elective on Nature, Health, and Design). We’ll be joined by my friend, photographer and author, John Riggs, author of Clear Cut – The Wages of Dominion. I wrote a review of his book on 5/8/20.
Each of us on the planning committee recorded a short video on the Tree of Medicine project and the Nature & Medicine: Restoring the Balance Between Earth & Health, here’s the link to my video.
This is a reflection piece on the challenge of answering this simple question, asked so many times a day, “How are you doing?” While this is usually asked in passing, the true answer to this question is increasingly complex for health care workers as the pandemic wears on.