ReVisioning  Medicine: A Medicine Council For Physicians, Psychotherapists, Medical, Mental Health Professionals and Healers, Palo Alto University 2018

ReVisioning Medicine, with an emphasis on mental health issues, will be hosted by Palo Alto University, in Palo Alto, California. October 26-28, 2018.

For further information and to register please contact Dr. Naz Motayar.

Canyon Pic

In the old days, when a people were gravely threatened, the Chiefs, Medicine People, Healers, Shamans, and

Elders, the spiritual leaders of their communities, called Councils. They looked for solutions by aligning themselves with the ancestors, the natural world and their wisdom traditions.

In these days when social, political, environmental and spiritual conditions, even our medical and mental health practices are making us ill, we come together in similar ways to meet the grave conditions of our lives.

We are very happy to bring ReVisioning Medicine to Palo Alto University for the first time.  This ReVisioning session will have a particular emphasis on Mental Health.

  • ReVisioning Medicine has been gathering once or twice a year since 2004.  The goal is assist medical people in becoming healers, to restore the original calling of medicine to bring healing by acting in healing ways and to create a medical practice that does not harm.  It calls us to think differently about the nature of illness and healing, to explore the relationship between common illnesses and modern life, and to seek alternate interventions, to invent and re-discover alternate treatments that do no harm to individuals or the planet.


  • Integrating the old, old medicine of Story and right relationships and respect for the communities of all beings can bring us back into alignment and health. ReVisioning Medicine is, we believe, more than the next step after CAM; it is, we hope, the future.


  • ReVisioning Medicine is a council that honors and relies on deep dialogue between medical, health practitioners, medicine people and healers as peers. Making alliances between the medical practitioners and patients, healers, family and community members, also the natural world, has major implications in terms of diagnosis and treatment, as does aligning with spiritual practice, finding common ground with indigenous wisdom traditions and including ritual and ceremony in the healing processes.


  • Medicine, healing and culture influence each other through on-going dialogue.  Medicine determines culture and culture determines medicine.  Our culture and society are ill and so our medical and mental health systems are ill. Healing ourselves, each other, the earth and medical practice simultaneously is the goal. When medical ways and medicine ways are aligned, community itself is healed, as are many of the grave ills and illnesses of modern life.


  • ReVisioning Medicine is reciprocal medicine. It is an on-going creative, collaborative process. In the last twelve years, we have learned that community is essential to healing, and that community, itself, heals.


  • ReVisioning Medicine is based on Council principles where everyone’s unique intelligence and wisdom in invited to contribute to the whole.


  • We pay attention to dreams and visions, to intuitive and Indigenous ways of knowing, noting that as we do so, we are increasingly blessed with wisdom that teach us about healing ourselves, our patients and the world.


  • Working with patients who were not healing enough by conventional means, we have seen the extraordinary benefits of weaving spirit, earth and indigenous ways with medical ways.


  • Aware of the many problems and dangers of contemporary medical practices, we are very concerned with iatrogenesis, adverse effects and often the grave physical and mental danger of medications, infections and practitioner and  hospital errors.  Too many are suffering the side-effects of prescribed medicines, and/or complications from medical or hospital treatments. One physician, using a short hand, referred to the majority of her contemporaries as practicing “pharmaceutical medicine.”


  • In a circle of trust and camaraderie, ReVisioning allows each person to face the limitations and stresses of medical training, the difficulties of practicing medicine in these time and meeting the original call to be a healer.  We examine the increasing limitations and distortions imposed on medical practice by different aspects of corporate and institutional medicine, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and government.  What we are required to do and what we are prohibited from doing.


  • In the intimate process of physician heal thyself, we learn and carry each other’s stories, what we have suffered and how we have triumphed, recognizing the healer in ourselves and each other.  We imagine on-going alliances as we become true healers in a time of history that requires such transformation.


  • A Volunteer patient will to be a healing focus so that together we might discover the deep story of an illness and illuminate the coexisting paths of healing that extend beyond the “patient” to the people and the earth.


  • One questions we will be addressing is : Pathology or Vision?  Particularly attentive to and respectful of what the patient knows about his or her affliction, we listen carefully for the Story. We call this exploration Indigenous Grand Rounds.


  • ReVisioning Medicine is in the tradition of Narrative medicine.  From its inception, we have recognized that the entire Story of an illness includes personal, familial, communal, social, political and environmental histories in order for the healing path to be revealed.  We seek to expand the narrow medical focus, looking beyond symptoms, the physical and emotional components, beyond testing, seeking many ways of knowing and a range of possibilities for treatment.


  • Over the years, we have worked with such Volunteers who have been afflicted with various cancers, heart disease, leukemia (from playing in uranium tailings on the Reservation) Agent Orange poisoning, (Vietnam), chemical sensitivities, and other ailments. A good percentage of our Volunteers have been also been participants working in conventional medical fields. We always try to focus on someone whose affliction has ramifications for the society as a whole and to see how non-conventional ways of healing might inform us and the patient in new ways.


  • A Volunteer Patient for Topanga 2014 was a forty-year old woman suffering extreme and chronic fatigue, depression and multiple digestive difficulties. Formerly an outdoorswoman, river/mountain/dog sled guide, she is a skilled and devoted naturopath, who in the past years had exhausted all conventional and traditional treatments to no avail. ReVisioning gave her an opportunity to explore the relationship between physical illness, emotional distress, personal history, ethical concerns and spiritual wounds.  It also immersed her in a supportive and respectful community with trustworthy peers and colleagues.


  • Another participant, a director, trainer and facilitator in the field of Mind Body Medicine and children’s mental health, revealed a story of governmental / institutional mental and medical abuse.  She had suffered many ills over many years including being the victim of nonconsensual pharmacological and radiation experiments. ReVisioning Medicine provided the platform for her transformation from a victim of a system to a forthright witness to its violence and exploitation.


At ReVisioning we have addressed and continue to address the following questions:

  1. Can medical people also be medicine people?
  2. Can we restore the role of community as integral to healing?
  3. Can physicians and health practitioners serve the community in the best ways that medicine persons served their tribes or indigenous communities?
  4. Can we speak openly, honestly and from the heart about the grief and vision we carry about contemporary medical ways and healing?
  5. Can we examine, together, what we want to change and what we must reject?
  6. How do we determine the entire story of the illness or the affliction so that we can truly open the door to healing, which also implies wholeness?
  7. Can we be as skilled in accompanying patients who are dying as we are in pursuing healing?
  8. How can medical practices be informed by spirit and earth centered practices?
  9. How can we protect our patients from the intrusion and negative consequence resulting from state mandated reporting and medical record keeping while preserving the protections these are designed to uphold.
  10. How can we incorporate indigenous wisdom traditions, ceremonies and rituals into medical treatment?
  11. Can we begin to create medical practices and treatments that do no harm to people or the environment? Can our souls bear it, if we can’t?
  12. How do individual, cultural and global healing practices intersect?
  13. How can we restore right relationship with the Earth as essential to healing?
  14. How can we bring ReVisioning understanding to medical and mental health training?
  15. What is our calling as healing presences at this time in history?


Deena Metzger will be leading this gathering again in alliance with Kjersten Gmeiner, MD, Marc Weigensberg, MD, Tobi Fishel, PhD, Naz Motayar Cheryl Potts.

Deena Metzger has been teaching about medicine and healing since the late 1970’s when she first formulated questions that are still guiding us:  What is the story that the illness is telling?  What is the healing path that is implicit in the story of the illness?

In 2004 she provided the keynote address at the annual meeting of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) where she identified both medical practice and the earth as the patients we are called to heal. In the following years she similarly addressed the American Academy of Osteopathy and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.  Since 2004, a core group of physicians and healers have been consciously exploring ReVisioning and working in ReVisioning Medicine Councils several times a year.  (Please visit for a review of her transformative work in health and healing).

Essays on ReVisioning Medicine and healing can be found Deena’s website and her blog.

These include: The Soul of Medicine (Deena’s address to the AHMA in 2004), Thinking About Healing; Illness Heals the World; On ReVisioning Medicine and the Possibilities of Miracles; Illness Can Heal the World and Healing in the Community. Her books related to healing include, Tree: Essays and Pieces, a journal of surviving breast cancer, Entering the Ghost River: Meditations on the Theory and Practice of Healing, From Grief Into Vision: A Council and her new novel, A Rain of Night Bird, Hand to Hand publications.