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Episode 24: When You Have No Words, Prescribe Creativity

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“Creativity gets pooh-poohed a lot, but it’s just a different way to process. Some people don’t have words,” explains Cheryl Paswater, Certified Holistic Health Coach and Functional Wellness Practitioner. Cheryl knew she wanted to be an artist from early in her childhood, and her creative mind opened her up to seeing the world differently. When she became sick, she realized that none of her doctors were thinking outside the box or trying anything new. Instead, she was being prescribed more and more medications, and she knew there had to be a better way. This led her down the path of functional medicine and fermentation.

Cheryl saw the healing power of creativity first hand while working as a resident artist at a hospital helping patients to recapture the ability to play and overcome their fears of making mistakes. It is not always easy for people to find the right words to process their emotions. Creativity provides endless possibilities for expressing those hard to process emotions. Often people are anxious about trying art because they think it needs to look a certain way in the end, but Cheryl helps her clients be more open to the creative process by first teaching them to open their minds to trying new things. She draws parallels between the processes of creating and healing and explains that neither process belongs in a box. 

Tune into this week’s episode of The Catalyst to learn more about the healing power of creativity, how to process difficult emotions through art, and why practitioners need to think outside the box regarding patient care.

About Cheryl Paswater, MFA, MS, CHC, AADP:

Cheryl Paswater is the Chief Fermentationist of Contraband Ferments and Functional Medicine Practitioner as well as an educator, health coach, sous chef, artist, and writer. She previously co-organized the NYC Ferments Meetup and NYC Fermentation Festival. She has been a contributing writer for Edible Magazine as well as a contributor to the book “Miso, Tempeh, Natto” and is currently working on her first book on fermentation due out sometime in the near-not so near future. You can find her teaching workshops and speaking on fermentation and health at in person workshops, online classes, and at festivals both regionally and internationally. She runs her Functional Medicine Practice in person and online. She splits her time living in Brooklyn, NY and Richmond, VA with her partner, cat named Koji (which means “moldy rice”) and all of her cultures as pets (aka: bacteria, yeast, and mold).

In This Episode We're Talking About:

  • How people will tell you that you can’t heal, can’t be creative, can’t make art, can’t change jobs, you’re selfish if it doesn’t look like what is familiar and it’s all a lie. You have to self align.
  • Taking risks! Taking risks in your healing, challenging the traditional health care mode, your partnerships, your marriages, all of it! Your soul sprit is part of your healing and part of what the world needs.
  • Healing is within you always. You may have partnerships along the way to help get you there but, you do the work.


  • “Our world would be better if we all were curious, open minded, and learned how to prioritize play and creativity as the way to process emotions and feelings when we can’t find the words.” (1:19-1:30 | Lara)


  • “Nobody was trying any other way of helping me get better. They’re just putting me on more inhalers, and more antibiotics, and more steroids.” (7:07-7:17 | Cheryl)


  • “I was so committed to getting well that I was willing to give up my housing because I couldn’t afford to do both.” (11:30-11:39 | Cheryl)


  • “We have completely ventured away from the process, the willingness to touch, the willingness to make mistakes, and the willingness to actually play. When do we just get the enjoyment of doing something without having to be like the outcome is X, Y and Z?” (19:29-19:53 | Cheryl)


  • “You will get people who will say no to you. Every day or every week, for a year and a half. And then all of a sudden, one day it’s a yes because they see you working with other people.” (24:46-25:04 | Cheryl)


  • “Do something every day that scares the shit out of you.” (36:13-36:15 | Cheryl)

Links for this Episode:

Connect with Cheryl Paswater:

Connect with Dr. Lara Salyer:

Thank You For Listening!

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About The Catalyst Host, Dr. Lara Salyer:

I worked as a family physician for 15 years until burnout changed the trajectory of my career. I realized I wanted to start a holistic functional medicine practice in my rural hometown and made it happen. In addition to practicing functional medicine, I now mentor practitioners who are looking to change their paths in healthcare by using what I refer to as the “Catalyst Roadmap”. I share each step of this framework with listeners so that they may apply it to their careers, relationships, personal goals, and projects. 

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