“MUIH taught me that the question a client comes in with is almost never the question that will help them transform, grow, and heal the most powerfully. My work is so juicy, so rich because I know how to guide my clients to ask a Bigger Question.”
Why did you choose our school for your academic program?
I had actually been accepted into a Psy.D. program for psychology and was only two months from starting. I was 22 years old and working as a waitress at the time, and one of my regular customers was a pediatrician. He advised me, “Don’t go into psychology, it was the most depressing rotation I did in medical school. You should look into The Traditional Acupuncture Institute (now MUIH) instead.” That was 1995, and was pretty radical advice from a doctor.
From the first five minutes of Redefining Health, I knew my entire paradigm of health, healing, mental health, and how I related to life would radically change if I studied at MUIH. I withdrew from the Psy.D. program, spent an entire extra year in undergraduate courses getting the prerequisites I needed, and have been forever grateful for that forward-thinking physician.
What aspects of this education do you most value and why?
There isn’t a part of this education I don’t value, and I can’t imagine a more potent, rewarding, or interesting career. However the most valuable aspect of my learning, unique to MUIH, is this: whether I am working with a young person scared about their first job interview, or a patient actively dying with a terminal illness, or a multinational corporation owner/president who has sought my counsel for peak performance, in any of these diverse situations I can *always* discern ways to help my client unlock new ways of thinking, shift their perspective, and free up new resources for problem solving and healing.
MUIH taught me that the question a client comes in with is almost never the question that will help them transform, grow, and heal the most powerfully. My work is so juicy, so rich because I know how to guide my clients to ask a Bigger Question. And the moment it happens, because the Bigger Question connects a person with their deepest knowing, there is a flash of realization in their eyes, or an exclamation of, “Oh my God!” or a massive sigh of relief. Whether I am treating a patient with acupuncture, or coaching executives in a corporate setting, gratifying moments like these happen all day long.
What drew you to an integrative health profession?
I joke in my book “Unlocking the Heart of Healing” that I had collected disease processes like curios, and that no amount of medical intervention had been able to do much more than wildly swing at my symptoms like a spirited game of Whac-a-mole.
I can’t say I was particularly forward-thinking when I chose integrative health, it was more a choice of desperation after multiple conventional doctors told me there was nothing more that could be done. Through integrative health I learned something novel: how to heal from the inside out. Once I understood how to unlock inner resources for healing, I ended up doing something considered impossible: reversing or minimizing 24 disease processes that had been deemed progressive or non-reversible.
Now, my husband (Brandon Hughes, also a MUIH graduate) and I own two healing arts centers and work integratively with doctors every day. One of our spaces is on site at the Medical Pavilion at Howard County General Hospital/Johns Hopkins Medicine. It is not only a joy to receive referrals from many of the varied practices in the Medical Pavilion, we treat many of the doctors as well. Despite my early frustrations with my own medical care, I am not conventional medicine averse. Working in an integrative healthcare setting is medicine at its best.
Describe your area of specialization and why that has captured your interest.
My husband and I have worked directly with Maryland Oncology/Hematology, and University of Maryland Radiation Oncology since 2001 and many other oncology centers since then. We have had people travel from other states seeking our expertise related to cancer care. I have never limited my practice to one area of specialization, and in fact there have been some surprises that have ensued.
When I wrote “Unlocking the Heart of Healing” my aim was to share some of the treasures I learned first at MUIH, and have since expanded into my own unique approach, with a larger public interested in the healing arts. I never foresaw corporations seeking my help to apply healing principles to peak performance, though of course the principles for flourishing in life and health are the same. While I have been told that my two greatest life’s work have been my book, and developing a hospital-based healing arts center model that works so well that multiple hospitals have approached my husband and I wanting to duplicate it, I am most excited that a population of people who would not normally be interested in the healing arts per se: corporate executives, are being exposed to, and benefiting from this work.
An Operations Manager of a multinational corporation said of our coaching work, rooted in the principles I learned at MUIH, “She has single-handedly transformed my life.” This woman was already at the top of her game, so to have strong “medicine” and powerful meaning to offer to someone who was just showing up for the Skype sessions her company had contracted with me for, most, as you asked, captures my interest and my heart. There are corporate negotiations going on in the world now with more heart-centered outcomes because of this work.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Being able to communicate a message of healing, inspiring clients and students to think and live bigger and more fully, and having the skill to guide people through authentic transformative change where life is actually *experienced* differently, is my greatest juice. That people are flying in from around the country to work with me, and inviting me to teach across the country, is the external validation that something awesome is happening. But that validation is secondary; the true success is the feeling that comes with big work done well. When that happens, everyone involved heals.
Bridget Hughes completed her Master of Acupuncture at Maryland University of Integrative Health in 2000. Visit her website at unlockingtheheartofhealing.com