Dr. Shimi Kang

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Shimi Kang is an award-winning Harvard-trained doctor, media expert, and lecturer on human motivation based in Vancouver, Canada.[1] She is the Medical Director of British Columbia's Youth & Child Mental Health, a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia[2], founder of the Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders Program at BC Children's Hospital, and creator of the Dolphin Way philosophy of life and parenting.

Author of #1 Bestseller, The Dolphin Way: A Parent's Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy and Motivated Kids Without Turning into a Tiger (Penguin Books, 2014), its US release: The Self-Motivated Kid: How to Raise a Healthy, Happy Child Who Knows What They Want and Goes After It (Without Being Told), and paperback release: The Dolphin Parent: A Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Self-Motivated Kids’'; Dr. Kang's written work is regularly seen in several major media outlets, including the Huffington Post, Psychology Today and TIME Magazine.

Kang has published numerous articles, book chapters, manuals, and monographs in the area of youth and women's mental health, parenting, motivation, and the cultural impacts to health. Having helped hundreds of children, adolescents, and parents move toward positive behaviours and better health, Kang has contributed as an invited expert to numerous newspapers, online news, radio shows, and television programs. She is a recognized media specialist in discussing both common and complex conditions such as stress, relationships, motivation, depression, suicide, and addiction.

As a leading expert on mental health and addiction in pregnant women and one of North America’s few physicians trained in Motivational Interviewing, Kang trains extensively in the area of motivation, facilitating positive change, dealing with resistance, apathy, and ambivalence, as well as promoting healthy behaviors.

Currently residing in Vancouver with her 3 children and husband, Kang enjoys hobbies of yoga, skiing, writing, and going to the beach with her family.

Early Life and Education

Raised in Calgary, AB, Canada by immigrant parents originating from India, Kang is the youngest of five siblings. After completing medical school at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada) where she graduated with Distinction and Honors in Research, Kang gained frontline experience as a primary care physician while working in Vancouver, as well as at a charitable hospital in rural India.

Kang fulfilled her residency psychiatry training at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada), continuing on to complete a Clinical Research Fellowship at the Addiction Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA).

In addition, Kang attended Rutgers University School of Drug and Alcohol Studies (New Jersey, USA) and examined global health issues at the World Health Organization (Geneva, Switzerland). She is also a Michael Smith Foundation postdoctoral fellow in Health Services Research (University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, Canada).

Career

Overview

Amongst her widespread activities in promoting and providing health information that is understandable and relevant to the general public, Kang focuses on bringing awareness and reducing the stigma of mental health and addictive disorders through notable public forums and media events.

As a result, Kang was honored with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for community service in 2012. She has currently received five national awards in the field of addictions and mental health, including the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry Research Award and an American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Award.

Kang’s current list of notable roles and titles as of 2016 include:

  • Medical Director of British Columbia's Youth & Child Mental Health
  • #1 National Bestselling Author (Penguin Random House)
  • Clinical Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia
  • Expert Contributor on Health & Wellness for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
  • Founder of the Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders Program at BC Children's Hospital
  • Keynote speaker for Speaker’s Spotlight National Bureau
  • Co-founder of the South Asian Youth Mental Health Fund
  • Board member of BC Mental Health Foundation
  • Co-chair of the UBC Addiction Psychiatry Curriculum Committee and member of the UBC Maternal Infant Medicine Committee
  • Consulting psychiatrist to the Provincial Women’s Reproductive Mental Health program
  • Creator of the Dolphin Way philosophy of life and parenting

Kang has been involved in studying assessment and treatment issues for those with serious alcohol and drug dependencies, acting as the principal investigator for the BC Children's and Women's Hospital Site of the Methamphetamine Psychosis Research Study. Participating as a certified medical therapist and instructor for the COMBINE National Study (largest study on alcohol dependence to date) at National Institute of Alcohol and Alcoholism, Kang was also a sub-investigator for an FDA Phase III Study for alcohol treatment (depot naltrexone) and participated in the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Validity Study at National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Notable Milestones (Timeline)

Year Description
1997 Graduated from University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine with distinctions and honors.
2003 Completed residency psychiatric training at University of British Columbia; Completed Clinical Research Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School; Founded the Provincial Youth Concurrent Disorders Program at BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, now Canada’s largest program for youth with mental health and addiction issues.

Kang is noted for incorporating innovative ideas during the program’s creation, including the concurrent focus on treating both mental health and addiction issues, extending the age limit to include transitional age youth (up to age 24), and using engagement and motivation as key strategies to work with youth.

2005 Presented one of the first workshops on mental health and addictions in pregnant women at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia and repeated this workshop at the international meeting three more times.
2006 Joined the publicly traded Biotech company Alkermes, as a Consulting Medical Director where she conducted research on alcohol dependence treatment and communicated with professional and regulatory organizations on issues of alcohol and drug addiction across North America.
2010 Co-founded the Youth, Culture, and Mental Health Fund for the BC Mental Health Foundation with the intention of reducing the high degrees of stigma associated with mental health and promote mental health education among youth.

In 2010, Kang was invited to join the David Suzuki Foundation as a member of the Climate Change Counsel. Her work there includes using known strategies to elicit and enhance intrinsic motivation towards change for climate control and environmental issues.

2011 Focusing her efforts towards early identification and intervention for youth and young adults, Kang joined the Board of the BC Mental Health Foundation as a Director to further enhance this mission.
2012 Awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for community service.
2013 Published her #1 national bestselling book, The Dolphin Way (Penguin Random House). The Dolphin Way was subsequently re-released in North America as The Dolphin Parent (paperback) and The Self-Motivated Kid (US title release), and has currently been translated and published in the following countries: Germany, Russia and China.

Mental Health & Addiction (Women’s Health)

For over a decade, Kang has taken a leadership role in the discipline of concurrent disorders (mental health and addictions) in pregnant and postpartum women - a highly stigmatized area even within the medical field as evidence by sparse advocacy, research, lectures, and clinical expertise. Becoming BC’s first addiction psychiatrist with a specialization of women in pregnancy, Kang has provided psychiatric treatment through The Provincial Women’s Reproductive Mental Health Program at BC Women’s Hospital since 2003.

In 2005, Kang presented one of the first workshops on mental health and addictions in pregnant women at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia and repeated this workshop at the international three more times. In addition, Kang has presented on substance-use disorders in the perinatal population at the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine Conference, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, World Forum of Drugs and Dependences, and World Conference of Drugs and Dependencies.

A pioneer in publishing and presenting continuing medical education regarding addiction treatment in perinatal women, Kang collaborated with researchers Nancy Poole and Lorraine Greaves of the Women’s Health Research Network on gender-specific issues in the concurrent disorders population, as well as a book chapter on anxiety in the female population (Highs and Lows: Canadian Perspectives on Women and Substance Use[3]).

Kang provides regular educational seminars and workshops on mental health in pregnancy to the staff at BC Women’s Hospital obstetrical units, Fir Square Combined Care Unit (Canada’s only 12-bed inpatient unit for substance using perinatal women), Heartwood addiction treatment facility for women and Aurora Women’s Centre. Amongst these workshops includes the Development and Dissemination of Women’s Concurrent Disorders Education Series[4].

The Dolphin Way Book & Philosophy

Published by Penguin Random House in 2013, Kang’s first book The Dolphin Way went on to becoming a #1 Canadian national bestseller. Based on a philosophy created by Kang as an antithesis to tiger parenting[5], The Dolphin Way teaches parents how to raise happy, healthy and self-motivated kids who are properly equipped to succeed in the fast-paced 21st century.

Through The Dolphin Way philosophy, Kang focuses on promoting the importance of P.O.D. (Play, Others and Downtime), Consciousness Quotient (CQ) development, adaptability, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, as well as advocates the health benefits of being out in nature.

The Dolphin Way is available internationally and was re-released as The Dolphin Parent (paperback), and ‘The Self-Motivated Kid’ in the USA. In addition, the book has currently been translated and published in Germany, Russia and China.

Major Publications List:

Year Publication(s)
1996 Vancouver Association For Survivors of Torture (Vast) Principal Documentation Report - 1996 Researcher and Author.
1998 World Health Organization World Atlas of Mental Health - 1999 Contributions to text.
2003 Gastfriend, D.R., Sharon, E., Pirard., Kang, S., and Reimer, Jens., Treatment Matching im Bereich der substanzbezogenen Abhangigkeitserkrankungen: State of the Art. Suchttherapie Supplement 2, 2002; 3: S115-S136. (German)
2004
  • Kang, S., and Gastfriend D., Chapter: Assessing Medical Consequences of Alcoholism. Johnson B.A., Ruiz P., Galanter M. (eds.). Handbook of Clinical Alcoholism Treatment. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
  • Kang, S. Special Populations: What is so special about special populations? New programs for women and youth with concurrent disorders. Visions: BC’s Mental Health an Addictions Journal. Vol. 2 No.1 – Winter 2004. pp. 56-57.
  • BC Partners in Mental Health and Addictions; State of the Knowledge Series. A Review of Benzodiazepines. Author. 2004
  • Pirard, S. et al., Prevalence of physical and sexual abuse among substance abuse patients and impact on treatment outcomes. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. (accepted for publication), 2004.
  • Kang, S., Substance Use Disorders in Pregnancy and Postpartum. Visions: BC’s Mental Health and Addictions Journal. Vol. 2 No.4 – Fall 2004. Exclusively online.
2005
  • Kang, S., Sharon, E., Pirard, S., and Gastfriend D., Predictors for Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment No-Show in High Frequency Cocaine Users: Validation of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Criteria. American Journal of Addictions (submitted).
  • Kang, S., Substance Use Disorders in the Perinatal Period. Canadian Addiction Medicine Bulletin. Vol 9, No. 1 – June 2005.
2006 Guest editor. Visions – BC’s Mental Health and Addictions Journal. Treatments for Young People. Vol 3 No. 1. Summer 2006.
2007 Kang, S.. Anxiety Spectrum Disorders and Substance Use Interconnections in Women. In N. Poole & L. Greaves (Eds.), Highs and Lows: Canadian Perspectives on Women and Substance Use Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Notable Presentations List

Year Presentation(s)
2002
  • American Psychiatric Association (Philidelphia, USA)
  • World Forum of Drugs and Dependences. Speaker - Using ASAM criteria for severe cocaine dependence (Montreal, CANADA)
  • Institute of Psychiatric Services (Chicago, USA)
  • American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. Speaker – Using ASAM criteria for severe cocaine dependence (Las Vegas, USA)
2004
  • American Psychiatric Association (New York City, USA)
  • Psychiatric Association of Colombia. Course Director – Addiction Psychiatry Update (Barranquilla, Colombia)
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Speaker – The American Society of Addiction Medicine Patient Placement Criteria (Toronto, Canada)
2005
  • American Psychiatric Association. Speaker – Concurrent Disorders in Pregnancy and Postpartum (Atlanta, USA)
  • Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine. Speaker – Concurrent Disorders in Women (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Canadian Psychiatric Association. Speaker – Youth Mental Health and Addictions (Vancouver, Canada)
2006
  • The 4th World Conference - The Promotion of Mental Health and The Prevention of Mental and Behavioral Disorders. Speaker – The American Society of Addiction Medicine Patient Placement Criteria (Oslo, Norway)
  • American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (St. Pete Beach, USA)
  • Western Canada Mental Health Showcase. Speaker – Crystal Methamphetamine Update (Banff, Alberta)
2007
  • American Psychiatric Association. Course Director – Motivational Therapy for Concurrent Disorders (San Diego, USA)
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine (Miami, USA)
2008
  • The Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Canadian Psychiatric Association. Speaker – Fundamentals of Addiction Psychiatry Course (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Cracked But Not Broken Conference. Speaker – Methamphetamine Use in Women (Vancouver, Canada)
  • American Psychiatric Association. Course Director – Motivational Therapy for Concurrent Disorders (Washington, DC, USA)
2009
  • Canadian Forensic Psychiatry Conference. Speaker – Withdrawal Management (Vancouver, BC)
  • American Psychiatric Association. Course Director – Motivational Therapy for Concurrent Disorders (San Francisco, USA)
2010
  • Canadian Psychiatric Association. Speaker - How to Motivate Resistant and Ambivalent Patients (Vancouver, BC)
  • Canadian Pediatric Association. Speaker - MI for Mental Health, Addictions, and Beyond (Vancouver, BC)

Awards & Distinctions

Year Award/Distinction
1990 Governor General Of Canada Scholar Award
1994 National Student Research Exchange Scholarship
1995 Rutgers University - Medical Student Scholarship

U of A Medicine, Department of Neurophsiology

Honors in Research Distinction

1996 World Health Organization – Geneva, Switzerland

Intern Placement Distinction and Award

1997 Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society

Achieved each of four academic years.

1998 University of Alberta - Faculty of Medicine John W. Scott Honor Award and Silver Medal

Awarded to the graduating student with combined outstanding academic, community, social, and personal achievement.

1999 Bristol Meyers Squibb/APA Scholarship
2002
  • American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) Research Award

Awarded for high quality research work in addiction psychiatry.

  • Janssen/AAAP Travel Award
  • American Psychiatric Association (APA)/Janssen
  • Institute of Psychiatric Services Resident’s Award
  • Aventis Pharmaceuticals/ APA Women Leaders in Psychiatry Award
  • University of British Columbia, Department of Psychiatry
  • Addiction Research Stipend
2003
  • Edward E. Davidson Award for Research – UBC Dept. Of Psychiatry

Awarded to the graduating resident with the highest potential to succeed in a research career.

  • Women Leaders in Psychiatry Award- APA/Aventis Pharmaceuticals
2004
  • Psychiatric Association of Colombia – Distinguished Speaker Award
  • Junior Investigators Award - American Psychiatric Association

Awarded to junior faculty showing promise as a future leaders in psychiatry research.

  • Ruth Fox Memorial Award - American Society of Addiction Medicine

Awarded to clinicians with strong research potential in addictions.

2007 University of British Columbia Institute of Mental Health - Founding Fellow
2008 Department of Psychiatry Teaching Award - Reproductive Mental Health
2005-2009 University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University Michael Smith Foundation in Health Research - Postdoctoral Training Career Award
2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Community Service