The Nova Institute for Health is a heart-centered think tank that takes action for the good of people, places, and the planet. We look at the whole picture, the entire lived experience that influences health.
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Nova Institute was founded in 2007 by Professor Brian Berman, MD, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine. Cultivating a broad, transdisciplinary community of thought leaders and partners, the Nova Institute has established an international reputation as a place for exploration and discovery.
After founding the United States’s first academic health center program for integrative medicine (The Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine) in 1991, Professor Brian Berman helped ignite and lead a profound change in medical practice that focused on whole person care. Professor Berman was honored with the prestigious Bravewell Leadership Award for Integrative Medicine in 2005 in acknowledgement of his leadership.
With the founding of The Institute for Integrative Health in 2007, the focus of this work broadened to look at all the factors that create health or drive illness and the eventual need for medical care.
Since then, Professor Berman and his team of thought leaders have inspired innovative, evidence-based research, strategic partnerships, scientific publications, and action in academic medical centers and communities that have led to significant advances in health and healing. Professor Berman’s team has:
Healing is facilitated through safety, persistence, and trust.
Resources support us as we heal. They include reframing, responsibility, and positivity. “Making connections enabled participants to acquire and refine resources and skills that were essential in their healing journey. People also brought their own personal strengths to the journey.”
“Connection to others was an essential part of all the healing journeys.” Humans are social creatures, and even the most introverted of us need close relationships. Friends and family add meaning and value to life and help support us, in good times and bad. When we experience relational trauma, relationships can feel scary, but reestablishing safety and trust in relationships is where the healing happens. (To be clear, we do not mean reestablishing safety and trust with abusers, but rather finding other healing relationships.) “When safety and trust had been established, people were able to connect with helpers. The nature of the behaviours of helpers that fostered healing ranged from small acts of kindness to unconditional love.”
Healing probably means different things to different people, but one definition that emerged from the study is: “The re-establishment of a sense of integrity and wholeness.” Healing was an emergent property that resulted from each individuals’ complex healing journey, a result of bridged connections between resources and relationships. Healing, in this sense, does not mean cured—none of the study participants were cured of their ailments—”but all developed a sense of integrity and wholeness despite ongoing pain or other symptoms.” In varying degrees, “they were able to transcend their suffering and in some sense to flourish.” When we begin to heal, we find increased capacity for hope, renewed motivation to help others, and are more able to accept ourselves as we are.
Wounding happens when we experience physical or emotional harm. It can stem from chronic illness or by physical or psychological trauma for which we do not have the tools to cope, or a combination of those factors. “The degree and quality of suffering experienced by each individual is framed by contextual factors that include personal characteristics, timing of their initial or ongoing wounding in the developmental life cycle and prior and current relationships.”