ELEVATE WELLNESS STAFF
MELINDA CHOY, LAC. - LICENSED ACUPUNCTURIST, CEO
Often I am asked the question, “Why did you decide to become an acupuncturist?” In writing my biography, I decided to answer this question for you. It’s a long story and it came about from life experiences throughout many years. My simplest answer is that I’m an activist and environmentalist. I graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a BA Degree in Political Science and a minor in Global Peace and Security. I received an internship position my senior year in Washington, D.C. with Amnesty International. After a week at my dream internship, my mother came to the end of her battle with cancer.
That experience shook up my world and my perspective on everything. How could I be focused on trying to change the whole world and not be able to affect a single person? I’m not trying to heal people to heal my mother, nor do I think that I could have saved her. It’s only that I saw that healing and change needs to come from deep within. It also needs to come from looking at a dynamic and complex body in physical, emotional, and spiritual planes. My experience with acupuncture has affected my life personally. I think that medicine and healing is a personal journey.
That is the experience that I want to provide for my patients at Elevate Wellness Center. A place for personal healing and growth, whatever it may be: back pain, insomnia, infertility, etc. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) allows for us to see the big picture and the root of disease. TCM is a long tradition of healing that is proven by its growth and popularity over the last 20 years. The science is in the 2000 years of practice and it’s continued success in treating a variety of conditions. I felt that these were the tools that I wanted to have to enrich my life and for those around me.
Elevate Wellness Center provides an opportunity for people to change their lives one step at a time. I strive to create a supportive environment where my patients feel empowered and informed to realize that their health is in their own hands. Making good decisions for your body is making good decisions for our environment on a micro and macrocosmic level. My favorite Thich Nhat Hahn quote is, “Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos ~ the trees, the clouds, everything . . .” Thus, I feel accomplished in my work as an activist for the human right of being healthy and an environmentalist.
In case you are interested in everything else that comes along with a bio, here it is. I graduated from Five Branches University in Santa Cruz in 2003 and received a Masters Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I started my practice in South Lake Tahoe in 2004. While in school, I apprenticed with a long time local acupuncturist in Santa Cruz. I also studied at the Zhejiang University in China. I am a Licensed Acupuncturist in the State of California and have my National Certification in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology.
JESSICA CERASOLI, LAC., RN (BSN) - LICENSED ACUPUNCTURIST
My personal experience with complementary and alternative medicine began at a very young age. One of my fondest childhood memories is the smell and experience when going to see the herbalist for earaches and eczema. Through dietary modifications I was able to correct these branch symptoms by focusing on the root of the pattern. This experience highlighted the connection between nutritional choices and my physical and emotional well being. Ultimately, this transpired into motivating me into making conscious decisions about my overall health and well being.
My literal mind was curious to know how it was that what I put into my body would
ultimately have an effect on my physical and emotional wellbeing. I enrolled in anatomy and
physiology and was in complete awe. The more I learn the greater my desire to share my
knowledge with others, leading to my interest in working in health care. I decided to begin my training as a nurse. I received my bachelors of Science degree in nursing from Orvis School of Nursing at the University of Nevada, Reno. I worked at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, NV on the general surgical unit before returning home and working with my community at Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe, CA on the medical/surgical and orthopedic units.
This was a very exciting time and it was also a very stressful time in my life. The pace that I was going at combined with emotional and physical stress came to a head. I found myself in the ER looking for answers to why my body was failing-I had a schedule to keep up with!
Looking back, I was a product of our modern society; I was burning the candle at both ends and this was the way my body was responding. I had burned up all of my reserves, completely disabling my body’s ability to manage daily stressors. This is when I discovered acupuncture. It was extremely helpful in rebuilding and resetting my system and assisting me in pealing back the layers and addressing the root of this pattern I was stuck in. I almost immediately knew I wanted to return to school and practice Chinese medicine.
I returned to school and graduated from Five Branches University in Santa Cruz, CA, where I received my Master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and became a licensed Acupuncturist. My internship focused on Integrative sports medicine and orthopedics with emphasis on pain management. My desire and passion is in providing high quality care and working with all members of the health care team to help elevate others to reach their individual, optimal health.
JANINE BLANCHARD - RCST, Osteopath (Germany)
My interest in health started at a very early age. I remember pulling my mother into a health food store at age 7 to talk nutrition with one of the
employees. At age 13 I received my first bodywork session and took a class in this particular modality shortly after.
During high school, I started having knee pain after a 6-week cycling trip in the French Alps. A visit to an Osteopath fixed my pain in one single session! He didn’t even touch my knee as the root cause of my pain came from elsewhere. I was fascinated! After personally experiencing the benefits, I was committed to study and complete a 5-year, full-time Osteopathy program in Germany. This has given me the opportunity to have the medical background as well as knowledge of the body-mind connection to better understand the body's healing processes.
I graduated in 2008 with a diploma from the German College of Osteopathic Medicine. I am also licensed as a Naturopath in Germany. Over the course of my studies, I received extensive training in Craniosacral Therapy, along with Visceral (Organ) Manipulation and Musculoskeletal Therapies. I would like my work to function as a guideline for exploration, possibility and inquiry into health rather than a set of techniques. I love helping people recover from chronic and acute pain and I am fascinated by the new developments and research in pain physiology and management. Early on in my studies I focused on working with children. After countless classes, workshops and discussions with doctors and practitioners from all over the world, I am very passionate about helping new moms with breastfeeding issues and babies & children that are not as comfortable in their bodies as they could be.
My family moved from Portland, Oregon to the beautiful foothills of Tahoe in the summer of 2016. I am beyond excited to be part of Elevate’s team and serve the community of Lake Tahoe!
HEATHER VALENTINE - BOARD CERTIFIED STRUCTURAL INTEGRATOR
I was first introduced to Structural Integration when I received my first 10-series as a gift from my father-in-law. I was so inspired by my experience, the work, and its ability to create profound change in peopleʼs lives, both on a physical and emotional level, that I decided to pursue becoming a practitioner as a second career. I began my practitioner training in 2010 at the New School of Structural Integration in Laguna Beach, CA, and recently completed my technical training.
I became a Structural Integrator for two primary reasons: 1) The Structural Integration process makes sense to me. It provides a unique avenue to healing by taking a full body approach to reorganize the connective tissue matrix within the body to obtain more optimal alignment while at the same time providing the client with more acute body awareness through movement education and dialogue exploring the mind/body connection. 2) The profound changes that I have not only experienced in myself, but also observed in my clients and others that have experienced Structural Integration are amazing and inspiring.
I am energized by working with all types of people to facilitate a healing process that will enable them to pursue the lifestyle they desire and deserve. I am inspired in helping my clients become more aware of their bodies and how their thoughts can affect how they move. I especially enjoy educating my clients on how to move and use their bodies more efficiently and effectively to rid themselves of movement patterns that do not serve them. Through the movement education, as well as physical bodywork and dialogue, I encourage my clients to pursue fluidity and ease, which can be applied in all aspects of their lives. This is integration.
To learn more about the services that I offer, please visit my website, tahoebodyworks.com.
NICOLE VANDEHURST - NEUROMUSCULAR MASSAGE THERAPIST
As an athlete and life-long health and fitness enthusiast the human body has always
fascinated me. The never-ending curiosity to learn more about how the body functions
intertwined with a passion to help others is why I am a wellness therapist. In 2004 I graduated
from the National Holistic Institute and in 2006 I established, Performance Sports Massage in
Santa Rosa, where I worked with many college, semi-pro athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Working with this population motivated me to continue my educational quest for a deeper
understanding of how to help others with injuries, chronic pain and unmanageable tension
through bodywork. Graduating from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor’s degree in
Kinesiology, gave me the tools needed to understand the human body and its relationship to
overall good health and pain management.
I continued my passion for learning by blending my experience and knowledge with the
study of Trigger Point Therapy developed by Janet Travell to provide Neuromuscular Therapy to
help address underlying dysfunctional movement patterns created by daily activities and
injuries. I feel a holistic approach to health and wellbeing is essential to bring the body back
into balance. The body is amazing at healing its self when coupled with empowering
knowledge. This is a key philosophy I bring to my work as a Neuromuscular Therapist and
Strength and Conditioning Coach.
Now as I am settling into the mountains of South Lake Tahoe, I am very excited to
provide Neuromuscular Therapy and an integrative approach to pain management to the
outgoing community of Lake Tahoe. Teaching for the last 5 years at the National Holistic
Institute has given me the ability to provide other integrative medicine practices including
prenatal therapy and lymphatic drainage therapy. Empowering through education is a passion I
bring to my practice; the goal is to go beyond pain free living and Elevate your health to its full
MISTY DAWN MCBRIDE, LM, CPM - MIDWIFE/DOULA
I am a home birth Midwife, Doula, Herbalist, and mother of three beautiful children. My journey to midwifery began with the birth of my first child in 1997 at my home in Sisters, OR. I was attended by my Midwife and now mentor, Anita Rojas, her assistant, and my partner. The relationship that I had with my midwife was so nurturing and real that I felt completely safe and trusted that my body knew exactly what to do. I began labor feeling peaceful, unafraid, empowered and wise.
The result was a healthy 8lb baby boy, born safely at home into my arms. I had no complications and I remembered asking myself why I had heard so many horror stories about the pain and trials of labor. That was the moment that I knew I had to be a midwife and discover all the wisdom that my midwife had shared with me. I knew more women needed to be given the natural birth option. At that moment I knew that birth was natural, safe and a rite of passage into motherhood. Entering this time in my life feeling strong, powerful, and wise was a wonderful beginning for my family. I now have three beautiful, healthy children that have all been born safely at home with midwives. I have been attending births for 14 years and every single one is sacred to me. I absolutely love what I do. I trust women to birth in their own way and it is my job and my hope to honor each family and what that means for them.
I have been an herbalist for 16 years and I have been attending births for almost as long. I have worked with hundreds of families and love the work that I do.
To view a list of all of the services that I offer, please visit my website, ohanaborn.com.
GRETA DESCISCIOLO / MAYA ABDOMINAL THERAPY
I have been a practicing massage therapist in the state of California since 2007. I began my studies in the healing arts at Aherns School of Massage Therapy where I completed a total of 600 hours of education in therapeutic massage treatments. After a number of years working in a day spa environment I decided that I would like to assist people in healing in a more complete way. From there I began to study Traditional Northern style Thai Massage at Spirit Winds School of Thai Massage where I felt drawn to the energetic and spiritual aspects of the ancient lineage. Particularly fascinated and intrigued by the Thai system of abdominal massage I felt compelled to learn more about working with and treating digestive ailments. This fascination lead me to study Qi Nei Zhong, or Chinese abdominal massage. During the following three years of my practice I noticed an increase of clients whom were also seeking aid in reproductive healing. This request fueled me to continue my education in order to better serve those who sought out holistic care. Learning the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy gave me the skills necessary to care for and work with a vast array of abdominal discomforts from gastrointestinal ailments to reproductive support.
EMILY WINTER / MPH, E-RYT, SEP candidate
I discovered the power and joy of somatic (body-based) healing nearly a decade ago, when I began my personal journey into yoga. A public health practitioner at the time, I was amazed by how seemingly simplistic body movements and breathing exercises profoundly impacted my own recovery from trauma, anxiety, and chronic stress and pain. I became a dedicated yoga practitioner and, later, a yoga teacher. I am currently training to become a specialist in trauma recovery, using the body as a vehicle for healing. In my public health work, I witnessed the pervasive effects of trauma and stress on individuals and communities; through yoga, I see the potential for collective wellness by harnessing the power of the innate, somatic tools we all carry within ourselves. My greatest passion has been to create a holistic practice that joins my community health work with my yogic and somatic training. This path has landed me in the rich, ever-fascinating profession of somatic trauma healing.
Since 2013, I have worked with clients to resolve symptoms of trauma and chronic stress, become more embodied and self-regulated, and develop new ways of maintaining presence and peace. I love sharing the practices of trauma-informed yoga and Somatic Experiencing® (SE) because they: 1) are rooted in science, 2) emphasize an empowerment-based approach to recovery, and 3) allow for the creative, dynamic, and often non-linear nature of healing to unfold, based on each client’s individual needs and experience.
I am an Intermediate Level Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner (SEP) in training at the Trauma Institute and an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT). I offer Somatic Experiencing® sessions at Elevate Wellness in South Lake Tahoe, California and facilitate community yoga classes for Alpine County Behavioral Health Services. I am the Co-Executive Director of Firefly Yoga International, a non-profit I co-founded in 2013 that offers trauma-informed yoga teacher trainings across the United States. I have designed and facilitated trauma-informed yoga programs and trainings for a variety of populations, including survivors of sexual and/or domestic violence, veterans, youth, first responders, therapists, social workers, and the general public. I received my Master's in Public Health from Boston University School of Public Health in 2012. Much of my earlier work focused on designing health programs that served survivors of trauma in countries in crisis. My yoga experience includes eight years of devoted practice, over 700 hours of yoga teacher training, and over 1000 hours of teaching. I am excited and honored to share in this journey of body-based healing with you.
ELEVATE OFFICE STAFF:
TAMSIN EDWARDS / OFFICE MANAGER
REBECCA ADAM / OFFICE ASSISTANT
HEDY KAUFER / OFFICE ASSISTANT
HEIDI SHEEHAN DUFFY / OFFICE ASSISTANT