Ansel Oommen

Unido: 30.may.2017 Última actividad: 25.sep.2022 iNaturalist

As an urban naturalist, a medical laboratory scientist, and a burgeoning mental health professional, I frequently travel between the natural and health sciences. With a formal background in toxicology, I am particularly interested in poisonous/medicinal plants, venomous insects, and the environmental burden of pesticides. In the past, I conducted ecological restoration projects of Forest Park's hiking trails with the Forest Park Trust and performed tree health assessments of NYC street trees with the Nature Conservancy. I am also a photographer for the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, focusing on pollinators, invasives, and agricultural pests. Nowadays, I work mainly within transfusion medicine and clinical microbiology, preliminarily IDing pathogens recovered from a wide variety of infectious processes. Within mental health, I've studied substance abuse counseling, trauma counseling, grief support, and horticultural therapy, although I do not practice yet. I am also currently a graduate entomology student with a specialization in medical entomology.

Other interests include plant-insect relationships, particularly pollination and herbivory. I have also been rearing Lepidopterans for the past 10 years or so. Ultimately, I would like to develop a new form of psychotherapy called Lepidotherapy (after the insect order Lepidoptera), using the life cycle of butterflies and moths to facilitate metamorphoses in people by working on treatment goals in grief, trauma, substance use, mental illness, and death and dying. I see it as helping people move from being earthbound (the caterpillar stage) to become airborne (the butterfly/moth stage). In between, there is a lot of internal rearrangement and self-work (the pupal stage). The ancient Greek word for butterfly was psyche, which is now found as the root of both psychology and psychiatry, so the connection is not new. I believe that the natural world is full of powerful metaphors that can be used in the clinical context to drive the process of therapeutic meaning making.

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