Carlson Unites Nutrition and Psychology in Practice

Eliza Carlson, BS ('00), MS ('07)
Growing up on a farm, Eliza Carlson, a 2007 graduate of Bastyr's Master of Science in Nutrition and Clinical Psychology, was always as fascinated by the body's natural healing ability as she was by the power of the mind. Once she discovered Bastyr's one-of-a-kind program, she was able to combine her interests to create a career as a holistic nutrition counselor, where she helps clients improve the mental, emotional and physical aspects of their health. Learn more about Carlson below.

Briefly describe the work you do now.

My private practice offers nutrition counseling, nutrition response testing and psychotherapy. In my nutrition counseling work, I devise a treatment plan and establish appropriate dietary changes using food as medicine to address the patient’s complaints. For nutrition response testing, I use a form of applied kinesiology, using acupressure points to determine organ dysfunction and underlying nutritional deficiency. I then use whole-food supplements to correct imbalance and allow the body to heal itself.

I also use interpersonal talk therapy and add supportive techniques such as hypnosis/guided imagery, art therapy, and/or dream analysis when appropriate.

Outside of my practice, I am an adjunct faculty member in the health psychology program at Bastyr. Additionally, I often give presentations on nutrition, including "Food and Mood: An Exploration of the Mind-Body Connection," which is a popular talk hosted by several Bastyr faculty members at our teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

What is your background, and how did you find your way to Bastyr?

I grew up in Wisconsin on a small hobby farm. Having been raised on homegrown veggies and meats, I never questioned the importance of whole, natural foods as part of a healthy lifestyle. I was always fascinated with the body’s ability to heal itself when given supportive foods and rest. I was equally fascinated by the power of the mind. I had an intuitive sense that the mind was an endless fountain of possibilities and that I wanted to use my own mind to discover all I could about it!

After two years of general education classes in college, loosely arranged as a pre-med plan, I found out about the bachelor’s completion program in health psychology at Bastyr. It was the perfect blend of the health sciences and psychology that I had been seeking.

After earning my bachelor's degree, I was a manager of a natural foods store in Jackson, Wyoming, where my interests in nutrition and food-as-medicine grew. I began investigating nutrition programs around the country and abroad and I was surprised that none of them had the "Bastyr philosophy" of natural foods, so I came back to Bastyr for the master’s program in nutrition. After I began the program, I was enticed by the offer to combine the degree with psychology and join the inaugural class of the cutting-edge Master of Science in Nutrition and Clinical Health Psychology. I graduated from that program three years later, in 2007.

How did you get into this career?

The combined degree gave me the capability to become licensed both in nutrition and psychology so that I can do both. I want to help people feel their best so they can live to their fullest potential. Physical health keeps our bodies capable of carrying us through life, while psychological and spiritual health guide us in making the world a better place.

What did you appreciate most about your degree program?

I appreciated the enduring philosophy that the body can heal itself if given the right support. This holistic approach uses complementary modalities to fully address health care concerns from a variety of angles. I appreciate that the nutrition therapy Bastyr teaches is from a whole-food approach instead of an overly simplified biochemical approach.

What's next for you? Where would you like to focus your energies?

I plan to continue to build my private practice and will receive more training in hypnosis, attend a seminar for EFT (emotional freedom technique), and continue to look for other educational opportunities. I hope to continue building relationships with two shamans I know and glean what I can from them to incorporate shamanic work into my clients’ spiritual explorations.

I also want to put energy into building the popularity of my three group programs: "Why Weight," a group for body image, emotional eating and weight management; "21-Day Detoxification and Cleanse"; and "Dream Analysis Group."

At Bastyr, we weren't taught that the end of the degree program would be end of our learning. Instead, it was the beginning of our experience with real-world people with real symptoms and of our opportunity to be of service. I continue to use Bastyr as a resource for further training and learning, and I plan to continue to use my alumni benefit of free class credits to expand my abilities as a health care provider as long as I live in the area.