David Kopacz, MD, Alderley Edge, England. Photo: Mary Pat Traxler.
An Integrated Life Is a Work in Process: Medicine, Psychiatry, Culture, Creativity & Consciousness
It was said of Thoreau that a “poet’s noblest work is his life,” David Kopacz ascribes to this philosophy that any work is life’s work and should be entered into with one’s whole being. This represents a holistic and integrative philosophy applied to all life endeavors, whether clinical, leadership or artistic. Currently he works as a psychiatrist in Primary Care Mental Health Integration at the Seattle Division of Puget Sound VA and is an Assistant Professor at University of Washington. He also holds a teaching position as a Whole Health Education Champion through the national VA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation. David's experience ranges from running a holistic private psychiatry practice in Champaign, Illinois, to working as Clinical Director of a psychiatric rehabilitation center in Auckland, New Zealand. The concept of healing means bringing together what is separated; whether that is within the self, in the selves of clients, between people or within organizations. Artist, poet, painter, photographer, writer, lover of animals and nature, psychiatrist, holistic and integrative physician, healer, leader, creator, organizer, gatherer and collaborator, David brings a sense of humor, creativity and compassion to all with whom he works.
David Endlessly Strives to Bring Together All Aspects of Human Being in His Life & Work
David has worked in a number of different clinical practice settings in the United States: academic, Veterans, multi-specialty group practice, rural community mental health, private practice; and in New Zealand: community mental health, assertive community outreach and psychiatric rehabilitation. The result of working in these diverse settings is a broad practical knowledge with which to pursue creating health care delivery systems that foster the intersection of the full human wholeness of the clinician with the full human wholeness of the client. The principle of integration, at all levels, is essential to healing.
David's experiences during medical education have been recounted in his poetry and short stories. His poem, “I stare out,” has been reprinted numerous times in medical education journals, books on poetry and medicine and other publications. Career interests include posttraumatic stress, personal growth during stress and crisis, indigenous healing, holistic and integrative medicine and transforming and re-humanizing the physician, clinical practice and health care delivery systems. His first book, Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine, brought together his work on the well-being of the clinician in order to transform the doctor-patient relationship and the health care delivery system He offers a counter-curriculum of self care to supplement evidence-based medicine with human-based medicine. This book contributes to the developing Compassion Revolution that seeks to transform the current culture of medicine that excessively focuses on efficiency, productivity and biomedical reductionism to the exclusion of human evidence. His second book, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD, with co-author Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) is aimed at supporting veterans in their transition from the war of military culture back to the peace of civilian culture. The book combines the ancient wisdom that Joseph brings with his visionary approach to peace, which is grounded in Native American spirituality, and David’s eclectic and holistic approach to post-military reintegration. The forthcoming Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality, again with Joseph Rael, delves into initiation as spiritual transformation. The book explores the lives and stories of various mystics, visionaries, artists, musicians, and shamans through the pathway of Joseph’s teaching and David’s learning.