Our Work in the World

Todd Dalberg: Changing the Story of Healthcare

In pursuing our mission of transforming trauma, loss and disability into hope and healing, we have come to learn that sharing practical mind-body practices in the healthcare sector deepens the reach of our work while creating a positive, lasting impact for patients and healthcare workers alike. Healthcare professionals who come from a range of specialties have trained with us on our approach and feedback tells us that our content is innovative, meaningful and truly has the power to change the delivery of healthcare.

Todd Dalberg who serves in pediatric palliative care and as medical director for pain and integrative care at Gillette Children’s in Minneapolis attended a weekend intensive training with Matthew Sanford several years ago and left with a newfound energy and perspective in how to improve patient outcomes. He discovered new tools and way of working that helped him in being able to connect with patients and their families. He explains that the workshop revealed concepts “in a way that was never part of my training – which included a residency and two fellowships.”

In addition to improved connection with patients and their caregivers, Todd has seen tangible results from applying mind-body skills in a practical way. In particular, he recalls a time when basic grounding instructions helped him with a patient that he felt would benefit from clinical hypnosis. After realizing the patient was experiencing anxiety about the treatment, Todd took a step back and brought in some simple mind-body language which allowed the patient to seamlessly transition into the clinical hypnosis. Todd explains “Without [the] training, I don’t believe that encounter would have been at all beneficial or successful.”

While these techniques have clearly improved patient relationships, Todd has also found great personal benefit through quick mind-body practices. Especially in stressful times, one way that he calms himself is by simply relaxing the tongue and jaw. “I do actually practice mind-body techniques, and have found the tongue and jaw can really have a cascade effect on setting the tone and relaxing the entire body.” He continues, “This works really well before – sometimes during – and after difficult encounters.”

Even when Todd isn’t at work, mind-body practices and yoga maintain a presence in his life. It helps that Todd’s wife, Julie is a yoga teacher (and one of MBS’ beloved adaptive yoga teachers!) who skillfully integrates yoga into their life, particularly sharing poses that ease aches and pains he incurs from intense weekend activities like biking for upward of 10 hours! Beyond practicing asana together, Todd describes how these practices have become part of their daughter’s life as well. “Now that we have a daughter, I’m often surprised that we unconsciously incorporate [mind-body] language and poses into our interactions with Reese, even though she’s an infant. Reese is also a natural and has taught us to slow down, become more aware of nature, feels the texture of leaves and flowers, be silent, and smile.”

And that’s what it’s all about. Recognizing the simplicity of a moment, gratitude for the silence and the sensation of a smile and connection. Todd concludes, “We feel very fortunate that we have this skill set that works so well in each of our professional and personal lives.”

Want to join Todd and be part of the shift in healthcare? Your donation has the power to help us share our approach with more healthcare professionals and in turn those that they treat. Make a gift today and become part of this evolving story.