We’re kicking off a series of spotlight interviews so you can get to know our functional medicine team better. First up is Yoko Kawashima, our functional medicine certified health coach, who first stumbled onto functional medicine as a patient. Read on to learn more about Yoko’s holistic, collaborative approach and how AAPRI’s Center for Functional Medicine program can help you improve your health—for good.
Q. Please describe your role at the Center for Functional Medicine.
Yoko Kawashima: As the functional medicine health coach on the team, I partner with all of our clients who join our program to learn about their health history, daily habits and current routines, and provide lifestyle intervention support. The food that we put into our bodies, environmental exposures, internal and external stressors, movement and the community around us all have a massive impact on our health. My job is to educate our clients, meet them where they are with their health, and tailor our functional medicine recommendations to their needs as much as possible. I guess you can say I’m an agent of positive behavior change.
Q: How do you approach your work with clients and what can they expect when they come to see you?
YK: Clients can expect to meet me virtually as soon as they join our program. I onboard each of our clients, get to know them, and walk them through what they can expect in the first few weeks to months of their journey with us. I also share resources to support them day-to-day with their food intake, and other lifestyle factors.
From there, I meet with each client 1:1 at their preferred pace, to help them set goals, better understand the WHY behind the recommendations made by the practitioner, and empower them to see the possibility of a new way of living—with freedom from chronic health issues. Together we find practical strategies to shift out of old habits that no longer work and into new ones that will better serve them long-term.
Q: How did you get interested in functional medicine?
YK: I stumbled upon functional medicine years ago after very frustrating experiences with the old medical system. I developed 3 autoimmune conditions in my 20s—Hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s—and the only solution I was ever offered was medication. My doctor’s visits always lasted 5 to 10 minutes tops, and lifestyle interventions were never mentioned. Doing my own research and seeking alternative help led me to a functional medicine practitioner and a dedicated health coach, both of whom helped me change my quality of life. I knew I had to change careers and get into this field so I could support others in despair, and offer a positive new outlook on health.
Q: What kind of training did you have to complete to become a functional medicine certified health coach?
YK: I received my training at the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy, the only health coaching school affiliated with The Institute of Functional Medicine. I also became board certified through The National Board of Health & Wellness Coaching, which sets rigorous standards for health coaches in the arena of behavior change and positive psychology. The exam is administered in partnership with the National Board of Medical Examiners and requires health coaches to know basic medical concepts and standards.
Q: What would you like new clients to know about AAPRI’s Center for Functional Medicine?
YK: Our program is unlike any other in Rhode Island. Our team, which consists of a practitioner, a health coach, a physical therapist, and a medical director overseeing the practice, is like a family. We take the time to really get to know our clients and follow their progress through the 12 months we work together. Our team meets regularly to discuss patient cases and ensure we are doing everything we can to support them. I get so much satisfaction and joy from seeing clients transform their habits and the course of their health. I love my job!
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