Introducing Dr. Kim Peirano, a licensed Acupuncturist and transformative healer. With over a decade of experience, Dr. Kim specializes in unlocking the root cause of disharmony in the mind, body, and spirit. She is a pioneer in Integrative Cosmetic Acupuncture, pain management, sports medicine, trauma, and more. Dr. Kim‘s unique approach unblocks misalignments and helps patients tap into their authentic selves. Her expertise has been featured in renowned publications, and she is dedicated to her own growth and healing. Dr. Kim‘s treatments offer deep insights and individualized care, guided by her intuitive understanding of energy and blockages.
We invite you to embark on a collaborative journey with Dr. Kim—one that illuminates the path to self-discovery, empowerment, and holistic well-being with an amazing MysticMag interview.
How do you integrate Jungian psychology with Taoist concepts in your therapeutic approach? Can you provide an example of how these two philosophies work together to support personal growth and healing?
Carl Jung actually studied with Taoists and studied Taoist concepts, there’s quite a bit of overlap when we get looking into the deeper aspects of the mind and spirit through the lens of Chinese medicine. Some of Jung’s concepts are even based on Taoist / Chinese medicine concepts like the Hun and Po spirits that are mirrored in the Anima and Animus from Jung. The way I use Jungian depth psychology and shadow work in my coaching and acupuncture practice is by helping clients find the courage to dig deep into their unconscious. When working with clients who have chronic pain and illness, and are working through times of high stress or major life changes, the willingness to confront our fears, anger, and other difficult emotions and experience can unlock the potential for the greatest healing. I somewhat see the two philosophies as two sides of the same coin, we’re just using different words and languages to explain similar concepts and experiences. I think it’s very helpful for acupuncturists in particular to be good translators because in the Western world concepts like Qi, Dampness, Meridians, etc are not well understood, so being able to bridge both worlds can help patients truly understand medicine and also themselves in the process.
What is the role of acupuncture in integrative medicine, particularly within the framework of traditional Chinese medicine? How does it address imbalances in the body’s energy and promote overall well-being?
Acupuncture is an amazing complementary modality in modern integrative medicine, I find it incredibly helpful for patients with any ailments because of the multi-system effects that it has. There is a great swath of research supporting the use of acupuncture for things like pain, enhancing sports performance, quelling side effects of chemotherapy, fertility, stress, and many others. Acupuncture has the effect of helping to relax muscles that are tense, engage muscles that aren’t engaging properly, reduce stress levels, and increase dopamine and serotonin, it can shift the way our brains actually experience pain among much more.
From a Chinese medical point of view, acupuncture helps promote the smooth flow of qi and blood, removes blockages called stagnation and other helps to enhance and support the body’s own natural self-healing process. I think of acupuncture as a combination lock to open the door for healing, a specific combination of points in a specific order for you on a specific day will be what unlatches the door for your potential healing. In modern and traditional acupuncture education and some research, we learn specific points that stimulate specific physiological responses like histamine release, muscle release, etc. Acupuncture can be a combination of both realities – a more esoteric approach and a more allopathic and literal approach.
How does traditional Chinese medicine view the mind-body connection, and how does this perspective inform your treatment approach?
There are many different perspectives in Chinese medicine to view the mind-body-spirit connection but the one that I use mostly is the lens of the Five Spirits. The five spirits in Chinese medicine and Taoism are a map of the psyche, they include the Shen, Hun, Yi, Po, and Zhi. The Shen is most closely linked to the Western idea of the spirit or soul, it represents our connection to the divine and our ability to have insights, compassion, and connection. The Hun is also closely related to the soul and represents our ability to visualize, plan and take the insight of the Shen and turn them into actionable ideas. The Yi is our ability to connect with others through empathy, it gives us our ability to set and hold intentions, to take the insight and plans from the Shen and Hun and follow through on them. The Po is closely connected to the Western idea of the soma or somatic self/memory, it’s our animal wit and instinctual knowing, the Po is also connected with our subconscious and can be affected by unprocessed emotions and experiences. Finally, the Zhi which is connected with our unconscious mind and also the collective unconscious, the Zhi is our connection to our inherent wisdom, and in a healthy space, the Zhi is the released ego.
When I work with clients and patients I always address the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of them in addition to the physical. I use the five spirits as a way to understand where people are at and what might be needed to help them come back into balance. The five spirits are also a very intuitive way to help my clients understand themselves better. I find that the ultimate path of healing that I am helping my clients with is by merely reflecting their own awareness to them and helping them understand themselves in a deeper way.
Can you explain the concept of Qi in traditional Chinese medicine and its significance in promoting health and vitality? How do you work with Qi in your practice?
Qi is a fundamental component of life and experience, we might also call it our energy or universal life force. It’s more than just the electrical impulses that flow through the body, it’s also our spirit and the manifestation of the quantum field. Qi is like the fundamental ingredient to life. In Chinese medicine and the practice of acupuncture, we view most illness and pain as a stagnation of qi, a blockage of that life force energy. Acupuncture helps to promote the flow of qi when it is deficient and removes blockages when they are stopping the flow of qi. Qi is a fundamental component of the practice of acupuncture. Qi flows through the meridians or channels of the body, there are 12 main meridians plus 8 extraordinary meridians, but if you look into other Asian medicine practices they recognize hundreds of meridians. Qi also flows slightly outside the body in the etheric layers of the person’s energy which is why modalities like medical qi gong and contact needling are also effective treatments that don’t involve touching or penetrating the body with a needle.
How do you approach the individualization of treatment plans in acupuncture and integrative medicine? What factors do you consider to tailor the approach to each person’s unique needs?
For me, every treatment is personalized to the patient, and not just them specifically but to them at the moment in time they are seeing me. I don’t often use typical point prescriptions in my practice which is often how we are taught to practice acupuncture in school, meaning you would choose specific points for specific outcomes. For me, most of the ways I choose points are by energetic and body palpation, I feel or see the energy of the body and intuitively am guided to the points in a specific order that is right for that patient that day. I consider factors like the person’s state of mind, what they’re working on or dealing with lately, and of course my knowledge of Chinese medicine and acupuncture practice, and I think all of this information informs some of the information I receive through the palpation.
Can you share a case study or success story where the combination of Jungian psychology, Taoist concepts, and traditional Chinese medicine had a profound impact on a client’s healing journey?
I’d say the vast majority of my practice and cases involve this combination of Jung – Taoism – TCM so, of course!
One case that sticks out was of a person who was dealing with a recent onset of anxiety and panic attacks that had seemingly come out of nowhere, they had been going to therapy for the first time in their life because of this but not making much progress. When I see something like this in practice I immediately think of what sort of trauma may have happened recently, in the five spirits container we think of traumas as ‘disturbing’ or ‘unseating’ the spirits, particularly the upper spirits of Shen and Hun, when this happens it allows for ‘possession’ to occur.
Now, don’t get too excited about the word possession here, because it isn’t like The Exorcist, it’s a word that’s often used to describe the experience or process of a person essentially being ‘taken over’ by an outside influence. So, when looking at it this way, we can be ‘possessed’ by many things, a person in a cult is possessed by the cult and its dogma of it, we can be possessed by a belief or way of thinking, we can be possessed by disease or pain, being ‘possessed’ is simply losing ourselves, our true nature, to something outside of us or outside of our control. Possession can also be in a gradation, so getting a phone call with bad news can temporarily and minorly possess you, this is like ‘not feeling yourself’ when you’ve recently been upset, and the other end of the spectrum of severity may be more pathological and diagnosable mental illness.
In any case, I leave the definition of ‘trauma’ open to interpretation, the event may be minor, or insignificant to me or someone else, but to the person, it may have been significant and that’s all that matters – their experience. In this case, the preceding event was consuming too much cannabis and having a psychedelic experience where the person saw what they described as dark shadowy beings or figures. Crossing over into Jung territory, a shadowy harrowing figure, normally the type of character that appears in a dream, is a sign an aspect of our shadow is coming to the light. This means this person has something coming up that’s essentially forcing them to get to know a part of themself more deeply and completely. It’s a big step in self-growth, albeit often, a scary one. Now, this person was not ‘possessed’ by these figures, but on an energetic level, they had a part of themselves opened up, by the cannabis, to a greater level of awareness. This is often scary when it occurs abruptly and not through slow meditation practices, because it makes us feel unsettled and unsafe, like we can’t protect our energy. When we feel like we can’t protect ourselves, the action of healthy anger and the wood element in five element theory, we will develop anxiety because that built-up energy of anger/wood element has nowhere to go, eventually it overflows into the fire element which has joy and overjoy which is anxiety as it’s associated emotion.
My process with this person was to first do some clearing treatments that are specifically designed for the treatment of possession (one of the few times I do use point prescriptions in practice), and coach them through some somatic practices to help them return to being their body and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. With some new tools in place for working with their anxiety and fright that was coming up they quite literally turned into a new person. From hardly being able to look me in the eye, to being very present and communicable. We also say the Shen shows through the eyes, so looking into someone’s eyes can be part of the diagnostic practice, and with this person the changes were palpable.
In addition, they were able to find a new therapist who also worked with somatic-based tools and practices and they were able to move through this period of discomfort quite smoothly. I love this type of integrative approach, where seeing me and other practitioners gets someone where they need to go. I often hear people shy away from a ‘kitchen sink’ approach to healing because they feel like they wouldn’t know what actually helped them. It’s the combination that helps! When someone tells me they don’t want to see another modality until they ‘finish’ with me because they want to know what worked, I’ll often ask them if they truly want to get better. This question is usually met with a look of ghastly disapproval, how dare I question their motivation to improve! But we have to step back and ask ourselves the question – do I want to get better? Or do I want to know what worked? And if I can’t have both, which is it?
Wanting to know what worked is an act of our mind, our analyzer, and it actually stops us from progressing many times. Using two or more modalities together can be a profound combination, and sometimes it can be a deterrent to healing. Every case is different.