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Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.      

Behavioral Scientist & Best-Selling Author

This distinguished pioneer in integrative medicine is a world-renowned expert in the mind/body connection. Her work has been foundational in an international healthcare revolution that recognizes the role of meaning and the spiritual dimensions of life as an integral part of health and healing. Eloquent and inspiring in settings that range from hospitals to hospices, from theaters to conference venues, and from boardrooms to houses of worship, Dr. Borysenko is a credible bridge between faith and reason. Her brilliance, humor, and authenticity—combined with the latest research—make her a compelling and inspiring speaker and writer.

After graduating magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in 1967, Dr. Borysenko earned her doctorate in Medical Sciences from the Harvard Medical School, where she completed post-doctoral training in cancer cell biology. Her first faculty position was at the Tufts University College of Medicine in Boston. But after the death of her father from cancer, she became more interested in the person with the illness than in the disease itself, and returned to Harvard Medical School to complete a second postdoctoral fellowship, this time in the new field of behavioral medicine. Under the tutelage of Herbert Benson, M.D., who first identified the relaxation response and brought meditation into medicine, she was awarded a Medical Foundation Fellowship and completed her third post-doctoral fellowship in psychoneuroimmunology.

In the early 1980s Dr. Borysenko cofounded a mind/body clinic with Dr. Benson and Dr. Ilan Kutz, became licensed as a psychologist, and was appointed instructor in medicine at the Harvard Medical School. Her years of clinical experience and research culminated in the 1987 publication of The New York Times bestseller, Minding the Body, Mending the Mind, which sold over 400,000 copies. The revised 20th anniversary edition was published in 2007. Author or co-author of 13 other books and numerous audio and video programs, including the television special Inner Peace for Busy People, Dr. Borysenko is Founding Partner of Mind/Body Health Sciences, LLC, and the Director of The Claritas Institute Interspiritual Mentor Training Program.

Dr. Borysenko's warmth and credibility—plus her lively sense of humor—create a compelling presence. Her inspirational “reflections” are featured frequently on Hallmark Channel’s New Morning program, and she also hosts a weekly Internet radio show, Your Soul's Compass, for Hay House. One of the most popular and sought after speakers in the field of health, healing, and spirituality, her engaging and well researched presentations are perfect both for professionals and the general public.

Speech Topics

End Food Confusion: Get the Real Facts about What to Eat and Why One Diet Does NOT Fit All

Cut through dietary hype and confusion at last! There is no one size fits all diet. When Joan and her husband adopted an ultra low-fat, high carb plant-based diet, they were surprised that their health deteriorated instead of improving. What was the problem? Joan put on her cell biologist’s hat (she has a doctorate from Harvard Medical School) and did some serious science sleuthing, separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff. A plant- based diet (including Plus foods that can range from meat to dairy, and from grains to beans) is key to good health- but it has to be “carb reasonable” and suitable for individual protein needs and sensitivities. Joan will tell you what simple medical tests (and self tests) can help you eat right for your metabolism and lose weight, gain energy, and optimize your health. Nutrition for the 21st century takes genetics, epigenetics, and our symbiotic community of 100 trillion gut microbes into consideration. And personalizing your diet is super fun and tasty. Let’s beat the epidemic of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, inflammation, autoimmunity, Alzheimer’s and depression that makes kids born today the first generation expected to live shorter lives than their parents. We can do it!

Tending the Soul of HealthCare: Beyond Burnout and Compassion Fatigue

One of the most widespread problems in healthcare today is the alienation created by burnout and compassion fatigue. In the Healing Arts the relationship itself is part of the medicine, a field of trust and care that forms the fabric of excellence. When the relational field is strong, symptoms are reduced and patients become more mindful, skillful, and empowered as do the clinicians themselves. Re-inspiring staff to care for themselves is a critical component of patient care and satisfaction. This fascinating and practical lecture or workshop provides a close up and personal tour of burnout- how to recognize it; how to prevent it; and how to reverse it.

Mindfulness and the New Brain Science: Optimizing Health, Emotional Intelligence, and Creativity

The new brain science is an exciting window into the nature of consciousness, emotional balance, physical health, and the interconnection of informational systems that we call the mind. Interpersonal neurobiology describes how the mind is both embodied in our brain and nervous system, which extends throughout the body, and also embedded in our relationships with the world around and within us.

The quality of our relationships- whether they support a mindful harmony with life or alternatively create stress- affects the release of informational molecules by the brain. These “mind molecules” are key components of the growth medium that supports all the cells of the body, turning genes on and off and predisposing to health or disease.

Why not feed your body the molecules that protect your health, while simultaneously feeding your “wise mind,” the part of you that is most creative and in touch with your larger purpose in the world? In this practical presentation participants will learn how to use evidence-based techniques to calm down the fear centers in the midbrain and activate the prefrontal cortex where happiness, resilience, and wise mind reside.

Embodying Spirit: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science

Ancient yogic wisdom created maps for the control of mind, body, and emotions. The new brain science builds on and expands these spiritual practices by providing an exciting window into the nature of consciousness, emotional balance, and physical health. The new field of interpersonal neurobiology describes how the mind is both embodied in our brain and nervous system as well as embedded in our relationships. The quality of those relationships- whether they evoke love, compassion, and mindfulness or fear, anger, and constriction- affects the release of informational molecules. These “mind molecules” in turn affect gene expression. The newest body-mind frontier concerns another intimate relationship- the food we eat. Nourishing ourselves wisely in accord with our unique physiological needs- while also being good stewards of the earth- is a missing piece in the puzzle of emotional and physical health.

Psychotherapy of the Heart: An In-Depth Look at How We Help Others

.In our increasingly fast-paced technological and data-based world, it’s easy to forget the non-linear wisdom of the heart. Caring relationship to self, others and a larger Whole is the crucible from which healing emerges. Learning to embody that crucible is an important, yet sometimes unarticulated and untaught skill that can transform and amplify the power of therapy. Intuitively, human beings understand that love heals. Sociologically and scientifically, we’re beginning to understand why. Data from the emerging fields of psychoneuroimmunology and neurobiology illustrate the effects of connection and compassion on health, emotional balance, and well-being.

The Guide to Therapeutic Meditation. How to Do it, How to Teach It, When to Use it

Meditation is an evidence-based practice useful in treating stress-related disorders, chronic illness, addictions, trauma, anxiety, and depression. In this in-depth introduction to the topic, three basic forms of meditation-concentration, mindfulness, and compassion- will be compared, contrasted, and taught. The physiology of meditation including its effects on the autonomic nervous system, immunity, the cardiovascular system, and the brain will be reviewed.

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The Cutting Edge of Mind-Body Medicine: From Immunology to Neuroscience

The most important determinant of physical health is mental health. In this research- based practical presentation, participants will learn how adverse childhood experiences set the stage for chronic illness and substance abuse later in life through epigenetic changes, neurochemistry, immune function, and brain wiring. Dr. Borysenko will examine how evidence-based psychological interventions can rewire neuro-hormonal circuitry and help restore both physical and mental balance. Some of the interventions covered include the modification of explanatory style, stress hardiness and resilience training, narrative medicine, meditation and mindfulness techniques, imagery, and cognitive approaches. Since the quality of the provider-client relationship is key to healing, there will be a focus on how to optimize the therapeutic bond.

Mindfulness: The Practical Neuroscience of Leadership

Recent research indicates that mindfulness training reduces stress, increases emotional balance, resilience, equanimity, and creativity through stimulation of the left and medial prefrontal cortex (PFC).  Mindfulness decreases mental rigidity and enhances relationality, as well as calming the amygdala, allowing for better decision-making.  Mindfulness also has health benefits that range from decreased activity of the sympathetic nervous system to epigenetic changes that reduce activity of pro- inflammatory genes. In this daylong training (also available in shortened format as a lecture or short workshop) the focus will be 3-fold involving theory, practice, and discussion.

The Art and Science of Resilience: From Surviving to Thriving

Resilience is more than the ability to bounce back from adversity. It’s a transformative process that reveals our inherent nobility, a rite of passage from pieces to peace. Mythologist Joseph Campbell called this passage The Hero’s Journey. It consists of three parts. Change disrupts life as usual. Next we’re plunged into the unknown territory between No Longer and Not Yet. There we can either despair and lose hope or- if we’re resilient- discover new strengths. The journey of resilience ends with giving back the wisdom we’ve gained to others. Modern psychology and neuroscience have clearly identified the attitudes and practices that support resilience. Both adults and children can learn these skills and help bring one another and our planet through the challenging times we live in.

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