Meet Dr. Hyehyun Paek: Psychiatrist in Montreal

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Honouring yourself and what drives you.

Meet Dr.Hyehyun Paek, Psychiatrist for Numinus in Montreal! We recently sat down with Dr.Paek and discuss her role at Numinus, her tips for self-care, and her love for the mission at Numinus. 

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What brought you to Numinus?

I stumbled upon Numinus serendipitously when I started my psychiatry practice out of Mindspace in Montreal. Soon after, Numinus began their psychedelics-assisted program here. I was impressed by the dedication to advance this field and all the different facets of Numinus such as research, training and client-oriented services. Most importantly, I truly felt that Numinus was doing it right by respecting and honouring the history and origins of psychedelics and plant medicines, which stems back to Indigenous roots.

 

Could you describe your role in 1-2 sentences?

I screen potential clients to see if they are eligible for psychedelics-assisted therapy by performing a clinical interview and provide them with an opportunity to ask questions. I try to capture a glimpse of each client’s history, personality, coping styles, life experiences, influences, strengths and their motivation during these assessments.

 

How do you act in service to yourself to make your mental health a priority?

- I actively prioritize my mental health - active, being the key word. I check in with myself regularly and engage in practices that recharge my battery like yoga, meditating, listening to music, journaling, walks in nature, pleasure reading and scheduling alone time.

- I try to set healthy limits and say ‘no’ as often as I can. Instead of feeling guilty when I say no, I try to celebrate it. It’s hard but it’s very important because if I’m not well, I cannot help others be well either.

- When I notice that I’m not doing well, I seek out help from friends or other professionals.

 

What do you love about Numinus?

I love being part of a big team whose values align with my own. We share a common goal and I feel that we are all in this for genuine reasons - because we really believe that what we do can truly help. We are all unique and have different approaches but I love that we can always come to an understanding and have respect for each other.

 

What inspires you the most about the field of psychedelics and mental health?

I am most inspired by the anecdotal stories of people whose lives have been changed by psychedelics. When I first learned about psychedelics in this context, I felt a deep sense of knowing that this was truly transformative. Hearing others share their journey of healing motivates me to expand on this work. Additionally, I am inspired by all healers and practitioners that have courageously advocated for the use of psychedelics in mental healthcare.

 

What has been the most transformative experience in your career so far?

Reconnecting with my spirituality has opened so many doors and possibilities for me in my career. Through this, I discovered that emotions live in the body and this re-shaped my entire conceptualization of mental illness. When emotions are not overwhelming, we can see that our bodies also hold inner wisdom that knows how to heal itself. From this understanding, I now have the tools to work with individuals, no matter how complex their story may be.

 

What advice would you give someone wanting to start a career in your field?

I am still new to psychiatry so this is a hard question to answer. But I was given advice early in my career that has stuck with me. I was told ‘Don’t take risks with your career, play it safe. Don’t be a pioneer’. I remember my body going completely cold when I heard this because it was like being told to ignore my authentic nature. So my advice would be: When it comes to patient safety, always err on the side of caution. As for the rest, follow your intuition, no matter what others say.


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