The Three Key Principles that Guide my Practice
More time allows for more education. A great deal of new research has emerged regarding the human body and mental health in the last few decades. We now know so much more about how mental illness can originate from imbalances in the body and how the body is the tool trauma uses to create symptoms of depression, anxiety, and more.
They say every rose has its thorn. In reality, each rose has many thorns, not just one. That’s how disease and dysfunction work: it’s not just poor sleep, or not enough B12, or lack of sunlight exposure—it’s all of those environmental stressors combined that synergistically create poor health. With a thorough assessment, many environmental stressors will be identified, which creates an opportunity to address mental health problems from so many angles. This is good news and bad news: the bad news is hearing about how you’ve neglected your body, mind, and spirit. The good news is that there are one thousand things that we can do to make it better!
Knowledge is power. Choice is power. Good decisions are made when we are fully informed. Poor decisions, bad habits, and self-neglect occur in the space where there is a lack of knowledge and perception that we have options. Failing to take good care of ourselves is often at the root of our mental health problems. Our unique ability as humans to repress stress, disappointment, fear, and emotional pain saves us from suffering in the short term but sets us up for
disease and dysfunction down the road. Learning that we have options to address and overcome our stress or past traumas, accept ourselves as we are, or make peace with others can give us the courage to take on the ugly stuff in the closet that we fear.
JUSTIN'S PROFESSIONAL PROGRESSION
My professional journey began prior to me entering nurse practitioner school. I didn't realize it at the time, but my undergraduate education would set me on a path of service. I attended Villanova University. My original aim was to obtain a degree in business. However, the school's core values of social justice and service of others pushed me in a different direction. My professors offered me a broader perspective on the world. Further, the volunteer opportunities I joined during college helped clarify my purpose in life—to teach and help others.
Right out of college, I worked “on the front lines” in several direct care positions. I took several jobs working with children experiencing emotional disturbance and other mental health issues. During this time, I gained exposure to what it can be like for children and their families to have to cope with mental illness. The work placed me in special education classrooms, with families in their homes, and pediatric hospital units. These experiences then motivated me to pursue higher education so that I could better serve children, adults, and families in need.
After completing the nurse practitioner program at Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions in 2011, I began my career treating children and adults with mental illness in the Boston area. In 2015, I moved to California. After five years, I made the move with my family up to Bend, Oregon.
Over the first 10 years of practice, I took on prescriber positions at a variety of clinics and practices. From weight loss camps, to homelessness clinics, to residential centers for individuals with intellectual disability and Autism, to an inpatient unit for adolescents, to outpatient practices in both affluent and under-served areas, I broadened my clinical perspective by treating individuals with challenges in all aspects and stages of life.
In treating patients as a psychiatric prescriber for the past several years, I have seen the merits of psychiatric medications. I have also witnessed their limitations. I learned that there should be much more to treatment than quick diagnosis and hastily prescribed medications. I came to understand that progress can be restricted with a medication-only approach. In my current treatment for common psychiatric problems like anxious thoughts, depressed moods, and scattered thinking, a search for the underlying roots of illness takes priority.
In addition, over the past few years, I dedicated time to learning more about the connections between the mind and body. Most of my study has been in the field of functional medicine, which views the patient as a unique individual and searches for underlying physical and emotional imbalances that contribute to illness. In my current practice, I incorporate conventional and functional medicine perspectives and address each individual as a whole person.