Dr. Paul Choi, Holistic Psychiatrist
I am a medical doctor and holistic psychiatrist, specializing in mind-body-spirit medicine. I treat a wide spectrum of individuals, from those suffering with severe treatment-resistant mental illness, to those experiencing modest life dissatisfaction. I also work with individuals whose primary concern is fatigue, chronic pain, chronic inflammation, or some other physical condition. I care deeply for my patients, and I aspire to help all of them lead a more vibrant, happy, and passionate life. As a holistic physician, I address patient symptoms in the context of who that person is as a unique individual. While grounded in the scientific principles of western medicine, and an expert in psychopharmacology, I am also quite comfortable with alternative forms of medicine, including prayer, auricular acupuncture, mindfulness based psychotherapy, and nutrition.
- Medical Degree from Stanford University School of Medicine
- Psychiatry Residency, University of Washington, Seattle
- Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
The mind-body clash has disguised the truth that psychotherapy is physiology. When a person starts therapy, he isn’t beginning a pale conversation; he is stepping into a somatic state of relatedness.
– Thomas Lewis, A General Theory of Love
How I Became a Psychiatrist
When I was finishing my studies at Stanford Medical School, I had to choose a specialty, and after much fretting, I whittled my list down to either general surgery, pediatric oncology, or psychiatry. I loved my surgery rotation. The first night I scrubbed in on a 7-hour trauma surgery, which culminated in me winning a rock-paper-scissors with the other medical student, and having the pleasure of removing a bullet that had been lodged in this patient’s abdomen. And a few weeks later, the surgery resident did not show up for a case and the attending surgeon had me perform a complete appendectomy on a 10-year-old child (thankfully the procedure was successful). The surgeons I worked with were delightful people, and my favorite was named Ward Trueblood, who was one of the kindest and most careful physicians I met during my whole time at Stanford. With regards to pediatric oncology, I loved this rotation, but it was also a very sad experience, and I was not impressed with the limited treatment options we had to cure these young patients. And then when it came to psychiatry – I really, really, disliked my psychiatry rotation. I did not enjoy the way the diaspora of human suffering was lumped into a few seemingly arbitrary categories and then treated with a limited array of intense, side-effect laden, neurochemically altering drugs. I found the psychopharmacology to be boring and seemingly short sighted, and most of the psychiatrists I met seemed to be dry people who kept a cool intellectual distance from their patients. So it seemed like the obvious choice would have been to specialize in surgery then. But towards the end of medical school, after I had whittled my list down to three disparate career options, I was fortunate enough to be able to take time away to engage in protracted, silent, mindfulness retreat practice. In the quietest moments of sitting in meditation, I realized that I wanted my work as a physician to be geared towards alleviating human suffering at the deepest level. I realized that even though I did not like the way psychiatry was typically practiced, I could bring my intellect, creativity, and heart to the field, and help people find happiness in their lives and peace in their minds.
So that’s the nutshell of how I chose psychiatry. It’s been 13 years and counting, and I am very happy with my decision. Psychiatry is a very challenging field, but it is also extremely rewarding on a daily basis, and I feel very grateful for the patients I have been fortunate enough to care for.
I have worked as a hospital psychiatrist, I have administered Electroconvulsive therapy (still a very effective treatment for the most depressed individuals), I have worked with the developmentally disabled, with forensic patients, with those struggling with addiction, and I have worked as a psychotherapist and psychopharmacologist, all the while refining a holistic approach to mental health treatment.