Creativity & Humanism

The Art of Healing - Tracking Health in Relationship

By Sean Park, PhD (@profseanpark) and William Sutherland, MD
Originally Published, March 24, 2020

This improvised session between Dr. Sean Park and Dr. Bill Sutherland, a family physician, psychotherapist and artist, begins with noticing a piece of art hanging in Bill’s office.  Through the telling of the story of the piece’s co-creation, themes of finding freedom within bounded conditions, aesthetics, and the improvisatory process of interaction help Sean and Bill to consider healing and the arts as relational and process-oriented.  Working with whatever is given to the artist or clinician is embodied within the conversation itself and serves to highlight the difference between talking ‘about’ creative process and being ‘inside’ the experience of improvising.  Notions of chronos (measured time) and kairos (time out of time, timelessness) are woven through stories that animate relationships between doctor and patient at their most sacred vis-a-vis the experience of tracking health and of Life listening to Life. 

Sean Park, PhD (@profseanpark) is an assistant professor in the Division of Education & Innovation (DEI) within the Department of Medicine.  He has a passion for creative, alive, and engaged teaching and learning.  He facilitates courses in design thinking, strategic foresight, experiential futures with the M.G. DeGroote Health Leadership Academy and iBioMed program.  

William Sutherland, MD, is a general practice physician presently working in primary mental health care, general practice psychotherapy, and functional medicine. He is the innovator of the complexity medicine paradigm and the author of the upcoming book on the subject, Grand Rounds: Healing Wisdom for a Complex World. Complexity medicine, by answering the call towards greater holism, looks at the embodiment of individual, cultural, and ecological health from an aesthetic, patterned, relational, and systems-based stance. He is a graduate of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University and has further completed a residency in rural family medicine. Presently, he is an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, School of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability. Research, discussion, and teaching interests include complexity and health, second-order cybernetics, systems biology and physiology, indigenous ways of knowing, radical constructivism, and epistemological and ontological considerations within the complexity sciences.