Nutrigenomics, Epigenetic Medicine & Building a Therapy Alliance: An Interview
Working closely with our community of health experts from over 30 countries, we've been constantly inspired by their dedication to their fields, unique approaches to therapy, and curiosity in exploring new methods that will help people feel better.
In a recent conversation with medical doctor and epigenetic health coach, Dr. Denise Karlyn Quion Hee, we find out about her take on building "the therapy alliance" and about her area of expertise.
**Katya:**Hello Dr. Denise, thanks for taking the time to speak with us!
Dr. Denise: It's my pleasure, Katya! Thank you for the opportunity to share about my field.
*Katya:* You've lived and worked around the world. Can you share **a bit about where you've been and where your journey has landed you?**
Dr. Denise: I am from Malaysia, although I was born in the Philippines and lived there for many years too. I did my medical training as a split program in both Ireland and Malaysia. After I graduated in 2008, I served in one of the public hospitals in Malaysia for a few years in the field of General Surgery.
In 2015 I moved back to Ireland, where I am currently based. I was in one of the private hospitals here. After my son was born, I decided to launch my own virtual practice. RingMD has certainly helped make that a reality. *Katya:* "Nutrigenomics and Epigenetic Medicine" — this is a new field that many people don't know about. Can you shed some light on the topic?****
Dr. Denise: Epigenetic Medicine is a revolutionary and rapidly advancing field that not many people, or even health professionals, know about. It is a field that studies how our genes can be "switched on and off" by various environmental factors like nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc. Nutrigenomics, which is what I am particularly interested in, is the area that specifically deals with how food affects our genes.
It’s now been shown that specific lifestyle interventions can alter how our genes are expressed. This doesn't mean changing the actual structure of the underlying DNA, but rather how the DNA code is read by the body, and it demonstrates that our genes are not necessarily our destiny.
*Katya: *How is this different than genetic testing?**** Dr. Denise: This is very different from genetic testing for inherited conditions or ancestry. It's more to do with how we can best make changes in our environment so that our genetic predisposition to chronic degenerative illnesses is altered. It's a way of optimising our lifestyle to best suit the scientific blueprint we were born with so that we can reach our full potential and stay at the peak level of health.
*Katya:* This does sound like a very exciting new field to be in! If we can back track a bit — let's talk about your transition from a career as a doctor in a private hospital to building a private practice. And now, to a private practice where you consult online. **What motivated you to bring your business online?**
Dr. Denise: Having more free time to spend with my family and being able to travel more often was always the goal. I have always loved the idea of being able to work online from anywhere and I was constantly thinking of how I could capitalize on the internet economy. But, obviously I couldn't perform surgeries online!
I was very fortunate with the timing in my life and in finding a field where I could marry my passion for helping people with this long-time desire. Now that my practice is purely virtual, it's hard to imagine going back to working in a brick-and-mortar hospital.
Katya: A common concern that people have when deciding on whether to start online therapy is in whether they can still build a therapeutic alliance remotely.
Dr. Denise: I think that building a therapeutic alliance, or what I call building a good rapport, with a patient is simply being able to earn their trust as a clinician. It's about making them feel heard and empathizing with their situation — I haven't run into any issues with this when consulting online. Once that relationship is formed, it's much easier to provide a higher level of care.
Katya: How can you build the therapeutic alliance with remote consultations? Is there a difference from face-to-face consults?
Dr. Denise: Carefully-worded conversations and non-verbal cues for communication are the key to building a good therapeutic alliance. This is the same whether your practice is online or offline.
I find that I am able to spend more time talking with my clients online. They love that they have access to my services without having to travel halfway around the world or wasting time in the waiting room of a clinic. They are more relaxed in the comfort of their own home, making the process of building a good rapport with them even easier.
Katya: What’s your favorite aspect of your profession?
Dr. Denise: There is an enormous amount of advancement going on in Epigenetic Medicine. It's starting to gain a lot of traction and I'm so happy to be at the forefront of it all.
I love that I understand both sides --- the traditional Western style of medicine and the more integrative methods that make coaching for Epigenetic Medicine effective.
Medications and operations certainly have their rightful place in a person's treatment, depending on the illness, but, it's also amazing to see my clients reducing their dependency on pharmaceuticals to get results. I love that I'm empowering my clients to take control of their lifestyle and changing their perception about health.
It's great that you can find out so much information from just a simple painless swab of saliva. And, of course, I love the fact that coaching can be done purely online. I'm able to take advantage of RingMD and other modern technologies to make my client's experience of going to a doctor completely new and frustration-free.
Katya: How can people find out more about you and what you do?
Dr. Denise: They can message me directly through my profile. In addition to the guest blogs I've written for RingMD about nutrition, fitness and general wellness, I also have a personal website where I share about my perspective and expertise (www.foodiedoc.com).
Thank you for your time, Dr. Denise! It was a pleasure getting to know you. To find out more about Dr. Denise and connect with her for therapy, please access her profile directly here.