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Conversations with Elaine Dove

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elaine Dove.

Hi Elaine, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
When asked “how my story started,” I often pause and reflect on how I want to answer the question. From my point of view, my story “started” three months before the Tet Offensive as my mother fled southern Vietnam as a war refugee. I was born five months later in Austin, Texas.

My genesis as a trauma therapist, healer, and multicultural creator is all contained in the story of how I came to exist in the first place – a complex, multidimensional story stretching across decades and continents, across war and displacement, across the tension and interplay of cultures literally on opposite sides of the globe.

I’ve always lived in Texas and found joy in friendships and family relationships spanning the globe as well as locally. I’ve studied with healers and dancers in the US, Indonesia, and Africa and have friends and family on four different continents. I have had the incredible fortune of living an adventurous and creative life that has brought me into contact with many of the world’s people and continues to do so, even in pandemic times.

As far as I know, I’ve always been an artist, creator, and healer. I always drew and created altars and clay sculptures and little plant potions from the garden even as a young child. Later on, as an adult, I studied sculpture, dance, drawing and painting in college, then went on to a Feldenkrais certification and then a master’s degree in counseling.

To this day a strong artistic practice remains the backbone of how I meet the challenges of our current world and help others. Art, making, and creativity ground us and provide us multiple perspectives on the meaning of human life and how we navigate and find our place in challenging times.

Currently, I continue to work as a creative, a shamanic healer, a trauma therapist and a Feldenkrais teacher. Body, mind, spirit and making intertwine in both my personal and professional lives. To me, it is all about the path of how I show up everyday as a dynamic living being observing and dancing with the world we live in.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There have been many struggles along the way: poverty, simply not having certain opportunities as a young non white woman in a time when being female and non white were much more limiting factors they are now; personal and professional discrimination against Asian Americans that continues to this day, unfortunately.

But my perspective on challenge is that it simply teaches and strengthens me. Because of the challenges I have faced, I have learned how to be an incredibly strong, resilient, intelligent and resourceful woman who can then teach others these skills. I have never met a challenge I couldn’t rise to and eventually beat, so keep them coming in order to make me better, I say!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’m known as a quirky, highly intelligent healer and creator with a strong personality who has a special talent for working with women, people of color, the up and coming adult kids of determined immigrants, and people with chronic illness. I also do mentoring for up and coming women and intellectuals in the business and corporate worlds.

To me, though, everything I do is an art, an act of creation. Sometimes that creation is an actual artistic endeavor, other times it’s teaching skills, and other times it’s a healing matrix or a container for trauma and hurt to be resolved. The continual creating of dynamic and healing environments and experiences is how I see everything that I do.

I would say I’m known for having a strong presence, a platinum moral code, an unflappable coolness in the face of incredible challenge and even danger, an adventurous spirit, and a keen mind. The need for (and incredible shortage of) healers and therapists with multicultural and international experience skyrocketed during the pandemic and continues to be an area in which there are very few people in the fields I work in. More and more, people who are non white and from international/mixed cultural backgrounds are stepping forward and looking for someone to help and guide them who is not contained within the North American “box”. I’m happy to be that person.

I’m also known for really loving things with engines that roar and things that go boom.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I’m a native Austinite and continue to live here because through all of the ups and downs of the last half-century, I still love this city and feel that it is my “American home.” Particular favored spots are Deep Eddy, Bouldin Creek Cafe, the Range Austin, and simply rolling on a motorcycle through any part of the hill country. I actually really enjoy the unpredictable Texas weather and the roughness of this land and its native people. I think the only change I’d make is that I’d like more access to really good Persian food on the south side of town.


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