Dr. Carleen “Carrie” Phelps is using her degree from Saybrook University’s Mind-Body Medicine program to pioneer “the next evolution of health promotion,” connecting holistic wellness and traditional health care in profound ways.
Dr. Carleen “Carrie” Phelps (Ph.D., ’14) has been fascinated by health and fitness since childhood—motivating neighbor kids to stay fit by hosting dance parties to American Bandstand in her backyard. But it wasn’t until she discovered Saybrook University—and survived a health scare of her own—that she fully explored the powerful connection between mind and body in nurturing wellness.
“Saybrook allowed me to integrate my professional interests—mind-body medicine, coaching, and managing organizational systems—under one degree,” Dr. Phelps says. “It’s a very special school and was the right place at the right time for me.”
Dr. Phelps had already built a career in executive leadership for agencies focused on wellness. Yet while her job title may have included “integrative,” she wasn’t seeing a holistic, person-centered approach reflected in their work.
At Saybrook, Dr. Phelps studied under leaders in the field of integrative medicine, such as Drs. Don Moss and Eric Willmarth, who have created holistic models of American community health care that are widely recognized in the field. The experience opened Dr. Phelps’ eyes to the possibilities in both individualized care and full-fledged integrative health care systems.
“True mind-body integration is the next evolution in health promotion,” she says. “It energizes well-being, fosters fulfillment, expands potential, and enriches lives.”
Dr. Phelps and her collaborator, Dr. Charlene Conlin (Saybrook University Ph.D. ’14), saw these effects first-hand while conducting research for their unique collaborative dissertation, which examined how successful lifestyle changes and wellness practices positively altered the long-term health outcomes of individuals with Type 2 Diabetes.
She also knows its power from personal experience. While finishing her dissertation, Dr. Phelps was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, prompting her to put theory into practice in the biggest fight of her life. Today, she is cancer free.
“My doctors were all astonished at my level of well-being throughout treatment,” she says. “I showed them, with my life, the power of integrative medicine.”
Today, Dr. Phelps is the Director of Membership and Resource Development at the National Wellness Institute, providing cutting edge programs to professionals and organizations that promote optimal health and wellness in individuals and communities.
As an adjunct faculty member at Saybrook University, Dr. Phelps assisted Drs. Devorah Curtis and Lisa Kelly in developing the course curriculum for the Certificate in Integrative Wellness Coaching. She is also currently assisting Dr. Curtis in developing the curriculum for an MA in Integrative Wellness Coaching.
“I believe true wellness is a way of life, and a process, rather than a state of being,” she says. “These are amazing times. A paradigm shift is happening to embrace holistic wellness in innovative, life-enhancing ways. And Saybrook’s progressive mind-body medicine program is leading the way.”