Abby Caplin MD, MA

Abby Caplin MD, MA

Abby Caplin, MD of San Francisco, CA, is a mind-body medicine physician, with over thirty years of training and experience. She works with people who are...

She works with people who are living with illness: including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, asthma, cancer, scleroderma, psoriasis, arthritis, migraine headaches, chronic stress and anxiety, hypertension, sleep issues, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease, IBS and infertility. Dr. Caplin’s offers individual private sessions. Her wide range of expertise includes guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, CBT, relaxation techniques, hypnotherapy, Voice Dialogue, and other mind-body methods.

Operating as usual

Journal to the Self® 12-hour Virtual Workshop 07/29/2021

Journal to the Self® 12-hour Virtual Workshop

The royal road to healing is journaling...

Journal to the Self® 12-hour Virtual Workshop Join our Journal to the Self® Workshop! Learn and practice over a dozen journaling techniques to deepen joy and enhance wellbeing!


Imagine...A journaling workshop with a great therapist, and you don't even have to be a poet, or even a writer!

Space available for Journal to the Self® classes! See flyer below, register at: Permission to share freely!


And in poetry news.... 12/15/2017

How imagination can ease pain and anxiety

Another great post by Elisa Friedlander, MFT who writes this time about how using the imagination through visualization has helped her tolerate the oftentimes excruciating pain of chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS). 09/19/2017

Sadly, handicapped remain invisible to many

Read Nitza Agam's outstanding piece in the San Francisco Chronicle today on the continued challenges faced by people living with physical disabilites. It began with loud banging on the door. It ended in a dispute in the theater lobby. The problem had nothing to do with the venue, but with a lack of accessibility to a restroom for the disabled that shared an entrance with a crowded women's restroom. My husband already had to humble himself to get i...


Institute for Poetic Medicine

"To be compassionate towards others, we first have to be compassionate toward ourselves — if only for a few minutes." 05/20/2017

PHR: Health Professionals' Pledge Against Torture

If you are a health professional, please join in signing this Pledge Against Torture. Now more than ever, we as health professionals must put the U.S. government on notice that we will not betray the legal and ethical responsibilities of our professions. Will you help spread the word? Sign PHR’s Health Professionals’ Pledge Against Torture. 09/07/2016

A Measured Approach to Pain: Tools to Help Patients and Doctors

Check out this Huffington Post article by Elisa Friedlander on helping doctors better understand their patients with chronic pain. There’s one question I’ve been asked more than any other in my adult life. On a recent visit to the emergency room, I heard it once again. M...


Looks like a terrific panel coming up on Wednesday June 8, 2016. John Fox is always inspiring. 05/20/2016

6 Ways To Discover Our Value Beyond The World Of Work

Congratulations to psychotherapist Elisa Friedlander for her wonderful Huffington Post post! I was 8 years old when I first considered my career choice. As an adult, helping people became my life's work. Within the span of a day, my body settled ... 04/05/2016

Pam Pappas MD

A Doctor's Doctor. Dr. Pam Pappas' skills and integrity make her a powerful force in medicine. She has helped countless physicians reset their internal compasses through her compassionate listening, skills and innate wisdom acquired through years of integrative practice, training and teaching. Read about her here: Physician Coach Pam Pappas MD is a psychiatrist with a 30 year history of physician training, coaching and homeopathy 03/21/2016

Gift Ideas for Someone With Cancer

Lisa Goldman is an incredibly talented, funny and beautiful woman living with lung cancer. Her blog is outstanding. I’ve toyed with writing a blog post on the topic of gifts for a cancer patient for a long time, but haven’t because it’s a little tricky. It would be impossible to list everything I’ve receiv… 03/15/2016

Mutiny of the Soul, Revisited | Charles Eisenstein

A powerful, thought-provoking essay by Charles Eisenstein. Over the years, I’ve probably received more mail about Mutiny of the Soul than any other essay I’ve written. The idea of the article has been hugely validating for many readers: that depression, ADHD, anxiety, etc. aren’t chemical malfunctions of the brain, nor spiritual malfunctions of the mind; ra…


Heart Connection Meditation

David Crean's Heart Meditation is truly relaxing and spiritually uplifting. Try it!

Connect through your heart to a heart that is greater than yours alone. (Photo composite by Sandra Jensen) 03/08/2016

Science Shows Something Surprising About What Reading Poetry Does to Your Brain

Thanks to John Fox at the Institute for Poetic Medicine for sharing this! The brain actually has very different responses to poetry and prose.


Abby Caplin, MD

Voice Dialogue is a wonderful method to create a self-aware life. See Dr. Caplin's information about this at Voice Dialogue International. Voice Dialogue and the psychology of selves. 06/10/2015

Making the jump - Momentum Magazine Online

Check out this wonderful story! A man who enlisted in the Israeli army as a paratrooper saw his dreams of skydiving cut short by a serious war wound. Neither that nor MS could stop him from eventually realizing that dream. 06/10/2015

The Institute for Poetic Medicine

Join Poetic Medicine author John Fox and his poetry therapy students on Monday June 29, 2015 for a day-long retreat in Menlo Park, CA. Deepen your spirituality through poetry at "Poetic Medicine and Personhood." No writing experience necessary! Welcome to the Institute for Poetic Medicine and John Fox 05/27/2015

Harvard neuroscientist: Meditation not only reduces stress, here’s how it changes your brain

And now the information in the previous post has been picked up by the Washington Post: Meditation's benefits may derive from its impact on the shape of the brain, thickening parts associated with mind-wandering, memory and compassion, and shrinking the fear center 05/11/2015

Stress reduction correlates with structural changes in the amygdala

The amygdala is the part of the brain associated with stress response and triggering or exacerbation of illness. A Mass General Hospital study in 2010 showed that stress reduction after 8 weeks caused anatomical changes in gray matter density in the amygdala, showing neuroplastic changes of the brain associated with perceived stress reduction and improved psychological state. Stress has significant adverse effects on health and is a risk factor for many illnesses. Neurobiological studies have implicated the amygdala as a brain structure crucial in stress responses. Whereas hyperactive amygdala function is often observed during ...


Voice Dialogue International

Dr. Caplin spent a wonderful weekend meeting Hal and Sidra Stone, founders of Voice Dialogue, and working one-on-one with Hal, in Albion, CA. Such amazing people! Check out their books and learn about the The Psychology of the Aware Ego, Voice Dialogue, Relationship, and the Psychology of Selves. 02/05/2015

Stories About the Power of the Heart

Another free webinar is being offered by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen! Should be great, as always. ABOUT RACHEL NAOMI REMEN MD: Rachel is Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at UCSF School of 02/02/2015

Blood Work (Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry)

Check out this wonderful new poetry book by Matthew Siegel, winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in poetry! It's terrific, especially for those dealing with ongoing health challenges. Tender, poignant, funny, it's a compelling read. Blood Work reveals what happens to the self when the body is compromised by illness. These poems explore the struggle to remain whole in the shadow of Crohn’s disease and to make a home for oneself in the body and in the world. 11/27/2014

SUNY Upstate Medical University

Diedre Nielen, PhD from Upstate's literary Journal The Healing Muse read Dr. Caplin's poem "County Hospital Residents" on-air November 6th! Syracuse, New York region's only Level-1 trauma center (University Hospital) with more than 80 specialty clinics and four colleges.


Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

Here's another wonderful piece about medical training by Dr. Rachel Remen.


So many of you responded to last week’s blog by sharing stories about your professional education that I have been thinking about education and medical education all week long and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.

For me, the process of education is intimately related to the process of healing. The root word of education–“EDUCARE”–means to lead forth a hidden wholeness in another person. A genuine education fosters self-knowledge, self-trust, creativity and the full expression of one’s unique identity. It gives people the courage to be more. Yet over the years so many health professionals have told me that they feel personally wounded by their experience of professional school and profoundly diminished by it. Many of you responded to my last blog with stories like this, experiences from your professional education that were disrespectful, even abusive. Some of you shared that these memories were still painful even after many years or that it has taken you years to recover from them. This was my experience as well.

It has made me wonder. Perhaps what we have all experienced is not an education at all but a training, which is something quite different. Certainly in medicine the training dimension of schooling has become more and more central and assumed a greater importance as the many techniques of the scientific approach have been developed. The goal of a training is competence and replicability. Uniqueness is often discouraged and may even be viewed as dangerous.

A training is all about the right way and the wrong way to do everything. In a training your own way of doing something can often become irrelevant. In such a milieu students often experience their learning is a constant struggle to be good enough. Training creates a culture of relentless evaluation and judgement. In response students try to become someone different than who they are.

At the end of the Healer’s Art in all the 90 schools that presently teach it, the students stand in a large circle, silently review their memories of the course and identify the most important thing that they learned or remembered during the course. They then turn this insight into an affirmation: a little phrase which begins in one of three ways: I AM…. I CAN…. or I WILL. One at a time, the students go around the circle each saying their phrase out loud. This year will be the 24th year that I have taught the course at my medical school. The most common thing that students say in this sharing is a simple three-word phase: I AM ENOUGH. Year after year it is the same phrase I myself say as well. It is the beginning of everything.

In Medicine, training is essential to technical competence. The real question is, is training good enough? Have we reduced the practice of medicine from a calling and a wish to live by values shared by generations before us to a very large collection of competencies? In our drive to train students to competence, have we neglected their education? Neglected it to the point that superbly trained young people are considering leaving medicine for other careers because they have lost their dream of medicine and their dream of themselves?

As I was reading some of your comments over again tonight, I remembered something that happened years ago. I had just given a talk on the messages, both positive and negative, that we convey to our patients without our awareness; sometimes with words but often with just our tone of voice, our touch, our facial expression or the way in which we listen. At the end of the talk I was standing with those who wanted to share their thoughts and discuss things a little more when a student came up to me, slipped a little piece of paper into the pocket of my white coat and walked off. I carried it around forgotten for almost a week. When I finally found it I was looking for something else (a lifelong pattern of mine). He had put together some lines from two other poems:

I had a dream
That honeybees were making honey in my heart
Out of my old failures.
There is no right or wrong
Beyond the right and the wrong
There is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

I have never had the chance to thank him for the healing and the gift of new eyes. As a patient myself I knew how strengthening and life transforming such genuine meetings can be. How they open new possibilities. Perhaps this poem is the message that medical education needs to deliver to every student. It is a message for all of us as well.

My dream of medicine was not to become competent. My dream was to become a friend to life. It was that dream that enabled me to endure the relentless pursuit of competency required of me. But competence did not fulfill me then and could not have fulfilled me for my medical lifetime. Only a dream can do that.

I would love to hear your stories about friends or family or teachers or even perfect strangers who strengthened your dream of yourself and led forth the hidden wholeness in you. They are all the architects of the future of the world! 08/18/2014

Stories About the Meaning of Work – Free Teleconference

Dr. Abby Caplin highly recommends this teleconference by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen: Stories About the Meaning of Work, happening on Wednesday September 3 from 5-6:30 PST. A Teleconference in the "Story Time for Grown Ups" Series. Rachel, master storyteller and medicine woman, reads her favorite stories from bestselling books.

[02/24/14]   Health Tap has awarded Dr. Caplin with California top doctor award for Integrative Medicine 2013!


Reminder: “Writing to Heal” Workshop Now Forming!
Begins February 2014
If you would like the chance to write about the health issues you have been facing, this small safe group will help you kick-start and/or deepen your writing process. Explore your experiences through writing, and discover how to use writing as a healing tool. We will meet at my office for six one-hour sessions on Thursday mornings, beginning February 6. Participants will be given writing prompts, time for writing, sharing and processing experiences. All participants must agree to confidentiality about material that is shared.
Session dates:
February 6, 13, 20, 27
March 6, 13 2014

Thursday mornings: 10 AM-11AM
Fee: $149.00
Location: 257 Connecticut Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Highly recommended to reserve your space now! Workshop is limited to five participants.

To register, call Dr. Abby Caplin at 415-255-9981.
Reviews from previous workshops:
“Jump-started me to thinking about my illness differently. Yes, would recommend this class. Abby provides the atmosphere for words to flow, connecting with self and others.”

“I found this workshop helped me deal with the emotional side of my illness in a far more positive way than I would have thought possible. To find my voice has kept panic and self-pity at bay.”

“Being in a safe environment with others who understand the context of chronic illness has been an absolute gift.”


Intimate “Writing to Heal” workshop now forming!

If your upcoming New Year’s resolution is to write more about health issues you have been facing, this small intimate group will help you kick-start and/or deepen your writing process. Explore your experiences through writing. No previous writing experience necessary. We will meet at my office for six one-hour sessions on Thursday mornings, beginning February 6. Participants will be given writing prompts, time for writing, sharing and processing experiences. All participants must agree to confidentiality about material that is shared during sessions.

Session dates for 2014:
February 6, 13, 20, 27
March 6, 13

Mornings: 10-11 AM

Fee: $149.00

I highly recommend calling early to reserve your space! This intimate workshop is limited to only four participants.

To register, call Dr. Abby Caplin at 415-255-9981.

Reviews from previous workshops:

“Jump-started me to thinking about my illness differently. Yes, would recommend this class. Abby provides the atmosphere for words to flow, connecting with self and others.”

“I found this workshop helped me deal with the emotional side of my illness in a far more positive way than I would have thought possible. To find my voice has kept panic and self-pity at bay.”

“Being in a safe environment with others who understand the context of chronic illness, and who are open to exploring has been an absolute gift.”




San Francisco, CA

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 6pm
Tuesday 9am - 6pm
Wednesday 9am - 6pm
Thursday 9am - 6pm
Friday 9am - 3pm
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