After her training in clinical social work in 1984, Dr. Nan went on to study numerous therapeutic modalities including Yoga, mindfulness mediation, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), and Eriksonian Hypnotherapy—all tools which she uses to develop personalized therapeutic approaches in consultation with her clients whom she sees as fellow travelers. She offers her clients—individuals and couples—the opportunity to co-create their own therapy by focusing on the positive outcomes they desire, rather than the problems that brought them to treatment. Each client partners in the therapy process by participating in the selection of the specific approaches that best fit and developing a plan for actively implementing these tools and monitoring their progress. In her practice, Dr. Nan enthusiastically embraces the notion that unwanted symptoms–those which bring the client or couple into therapy–are in fact an attempt at a solution, and that listening deeply into the underlying positive intention beneath what we experience as problematic often facilitates the process of developing healthy behaviors, attitudes, and strategies which empower.
Dr. Nan’s interest in the study of sex stems from her belief that many problems have a root in some form of shame. During three decades of her clinical practice, she has observed that clients are often challenged in the practice of self-acceptance and at odds with being comfortable in their own skin. Shame had roots in disowned parts of self—often manifesting in discomfort with fully embodied sexual expression—frequently complicated by histories of receiving negative sexual messages or having traumatic experiences. For others, even if the sexual self is not the source of shame, too much “mind,” in the form of a relentlessly critical or judgmental inner dialogue, hampers the individual’s ability to be present to his or her own experience. Recognizing that we live in a culture that is both obsessively preoccupied with pleasure as well as pleasure-phobic, the ability to feel comfortable and connected with our own bodies with permission to embrace pleasure and joy is necessary to forge healthy relationships with self and other.
Dr. Nan’s commitment to the scientific study of sex stems from her desire to help fill in the disconcerting gaps in the basic science regarding the neural correlates of sexuality. For example, one basic question regarding how the brain processes sensory input from the genitals was addressed in her work with mentor, Dr. Barry Komisaruk, when they published the first study to map the projections of the clitoris, vagina, cervix, and nipple onto the somatosensory cortex. Understanding the basic wiring of the healthy brain is the first step in understanding what may go wrong in the case of sexual disorders and chronic pain syndromes that affect men and women. Aside from adding to the knowledge base of how the brain works, she believes it is equally important to validate studying sex just for sex’s sake.