Biography of David A. Dawson, L.Ac.
I was born in 1957 in a small hospital in Rochester, PA. My parents were farming folk from a farm near the Ohio/Pennsylvania border which had been in the family from the late 1700s. We moved to Santa Barbara, CA, in the early sixties, and I grew up there. Two themes emerged early on which have colored much of the rest of my life. I have a strong sense of being rooted in rural culture (a love of agriculture, animals, and traditional crafts and knowledge), and a love of ancient cultures and languages.
I was a slow starter, academically. I think it just boiled down to the fact that I loved what I was interested in, and couldn’t be bothered with anything else. Eventually, however, adulthood (and a love of learning) caught up with me, and I now have a deep passion for knowledge and learning. While this doesn’t always take an academic form, I have to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I now have more letters after my name than in it. While not all my studies were directly related to my medical practice, they have shaped me strongly, and do influence the way I work, either through the skills they have taught me, or through the life experience they have prepared me to share. For more information on my academic background and training, please see my Curriculum Vitae.
My background in academia prepared me to approach Chinese medicine in a different way from many of my fellow medical students. I gravitated toward the more difficult areas of study, and found that patients with multiple conditions or particularly difficult diagnostic issues were frequently referred to me during our clinical training. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to tease out all the factors and layers in a complicated case, and on more than one occasion actually solved problems that had eluded my professors' understanding. (I say this not to boast, but simply to show where my interests lie, and the kinds of concerns I have worked with in the past.)
I discovered Chinese medicine while studying for my Ph.D. in Scotland. I had been having trouble with sinus infections, and an acquaintance recommended that I see her acupuncturist. I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but eventually went, and was almost immediately convinced that this was what I wanted to do. Some ten years later, I still felt the same way, and finally followed my heart. I earned a Master of Acupuncture at Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Seattle (which was then rated as the #2 college of oriental medicine in the US). Following my training and licensure as an acupuncturist, I did a second degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine (the herbal science of oriental medicine).
Following my training at NIAOM, I practiced for six years as a Licensed Acupuncturist in the State of Washington, and am now licensed in the State of Indiana. This licensure covers acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, massage, and related therapies. I am also Certified by the National Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, since 2001. I am trained in massage (in private practice since 1993), and I do maintain a limited massage practice, working mostly on athletes in training.
My medical training covers all aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine, omitting only bone-setting and chiropractic-style adjustments, which are not permitted under acupuncture licensure in the United States.
While being trained as a generalist, and while the majority of my patients come to me with a wide range of concerns, my areas of special interest include: treating Psychiatric Illness through traditional Chinese medicine; repairing and maintaining physical and emotional health for patients with HIV/AIDS; working with patients with 'complex disorders,' such as migraines, long-term illness, complications due to blood loss from surgery, and so on; and assisting elite athletes in maintaining Peak Performance capacity.
I believe very strongly that the one thing the body (and mind and soul) does better than anything else is to heal itself. My job is to assist the patient in this process by removing obstacles to that healing, and by supporting the healing process through balancing the body's resources and strengthening areas that no longer function at optimal levels.
While certain damage clearly cannot be undone - a lost limb cannot be restored, for example - even very old injuries and severe disease processes can be reversed and healed. Long-term and extensive damage cannot be healed over-night, however, and patients must have the willingness to work steadily in the same direction if such concerns are to be adequately addressed - nevertheless, I have seen very old trauma and entrenched disease patterns fall away, leaving in place the body's true health. To participate in this process is an honor, and the main reason I do this work.
Aside from academics and professional history, however, I enjoy a wide range of other interests, from music and theater, literature, painting and other fine arts, to traditional crafts such as cabinetry, weaving, natural dyes, and so on. I love animals, and have raised horses, dogs, cats and house-rabbits. I enjoy travel, gardening, hiking, swimming, and can even be found basking in the sun on occasion – one of the great pleasures of life, in my opinion is to swim in the ocean after basking till warm in the sun.
I have been involved in diving (the flips and twists kind) for more than 30 years, both as a competitor and as a coach. I continue to train and compete in Masters’ competitions world-wide as time permits; over the years diving has taken me to Europe, Canada, Australia and Brazil, resulting in several dozen medal finishes, two national titles, and national record that has endured more than two decades to date.
I have coached high-school and collegiate divers for many years, and have recently been invited to join the staff of the Indiana University Men’s and Women’s diving teams (one of the finest teams in the nation), as well as the Indiana Diving Club in Bloomington, both as a coach, and as an on-call masseur and acupuncturist for the divers.
My other interests have been varied. In addition to a childhood spent in the water at the YMCA, I have explored equestrian sports, fencing, dance (ballet, jazz, and contact improv), and martial arts. In particular, during and after my training for acupuncture, I studied for more than Tai Ji and Qi Gong in Seattle with Master Hong Yi Jiao (at the time of my studying with her, she held the USA national title in every form of Tai Ji and Wu Shu - nearly two dozen in all). Movement and biomechanics are an integral part of my healing practice, and I enjoy sharing these skills with my patients and clients.