Welcome to my psychiatry career mentorship resources page! Bookmark this page because I will be periodically updating it with new information.
The 10 Principles of Integrative Psychiatry
✓ Optimal mental wellness is the goal, not just the absence of disease. It’s not enough to be “not depressed” or “not anxious.” Integrative psychiatry is about promoting wellness and cultivating a life full of joy, meaning, and purpose.
✓ Relationships have a healing power. I mean both an individual’s personal relationships and social support networks, which have been demonstrated in many studies to be crucial in overall health and well-being, as well as that individual’s relationship with his or her psychiatrist. I have therapy patients who seem to benefit from our relationship more than any other intervention I do. Being heard and cared for is important. Really important.
✓ The body, mind and environment operate as a whole. You can not treat symptoms without understanding the context in which those symptoms arose. What is happening in the patient’s life, work, and relationships? How are lifestyle habits like sleep, nutrition and movement influencing symptoms? To treat the symptoms effectively, you must address the whole.
✓ An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s not about waiting for a disease to happen and then putting a bandaid over it. It’s about promoting a healthy mindset and lifestyle (whether through diet, exercise, meditation, spirituality, cultivating relationships, etc…) that makes problems less likely to arise, and gives your patients more capacity to deal with them when they do.
✓ We all have an innate healing power. Our natural state of being is healthy, not sick. This is good news! It means that if you feel unhappy, or stuck, or restless, you need only to identify the obstacles that are keeping you from healing and then remove them. Think of wellness as a homeostatic mechanism—hone your skill at identifying in your patients what levers need to be adjusted to help their bodies do the healing it already knows how to do.
✓ Treatment modalities can be integrated, so that a patient can benefit from the best that Western medicine and alternative medicine approaches have to offer. Hence “integrative” psychiatry. The best of conventional medical and psychiatric diagnostic techniques and treatments can be combined with alternative strategies such as mindfulness, herbal supplements, acupuncture, massage, and other complementary approaches.
✓ We have personal responsibility for our health and happiness. A supervisor once told me, “Never work harder than the patient.” It’s a bit of an overstatement, but we should keep in mind, without judgement, our patient’s investment in the process, and meet them where they are at as we work to get them better.
✓ Individuality should be honored. Not all bodies or minds work the same, and we all have different treatments and techniques that resonate with us. To the utmost degree possible, a person’s preferences should be a crucial factor in determining what strategies are used to help them. Never tell a patient that there experience is not real—it’s more likely that you don’t understand the mechanism behind it than that they don’t know what’s going on in their own bodies.
✓ The practitioner must teach by example. Live the same principles that you teach your patients.
✓ All life experiences are learning opportunities. Painful experiences are part of the human experience and do not need to be avoided or minimized. Teach your patients to use these experiences as fuel for growth.
My Practice Philosophy
This 3 1/2 minute video goes over the my practice philosophy, as described in the 10 principles of integrative psychiatry outlined above.
Sample Integrative Psychiatry Anxiety Protocol
As you learn, you should make protocols for the disorders you most commonly treat. Here is a summary of the protocol I use when I’m treating anxiety disorders with a holistic approach.
How to Practice Integrative Psychiatry
In this hour-long video, I speak with one of my mentees and a member of my Life Teachings Program about how to start incorporating integrative approaches into your clinical work when you’re completely new to the field.
Recommended Integrative Psychiatry Resources
- Nutritional Medicine by Alan Gaby
- Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice (APA textbook)
- Integrative Pain Management (Weil Integrative Medicine Library)
- Integrative Women’s Health (Weil Integrative Medicine Library)
- Integrative Addiction & Recovery (Weil Integrative Medicine Library)
- Integrative Neurology (Weil Integrative Medicine Library)
- Integrative Rheumatology (Weil Integrative Medicine Library)
- Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice
- Chronotherapeutics for Affective Disorders
- Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change
- Peek Sleep Performance for Athletes
- The Wahls Protocol
- The Handbook of Medical Hallucinogens
- coming soon…
Psychiatry-Related Blog Posts
How To Build A Cash-Pay Psychiatry Practice In 2023 (Better Than Reddit)
If you’re feeling constrained by the insurance-based model and dream of offering your patients better care in a way that expands your growth potential too, you’ve landed at the right place. I work with psychiatric providers just like you everyday – those who want complete autonomy over the kinds of patients they see, when they see…
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How To Start a Telepsychiatry Private Practice (For The Not-So-Business-Savvy Psychiatrist)
The foolproof starter guide to building your telepsychiatry practice without wasting time, energy, and money on the things that don’t matter. This article lays out the step-by-step legal requirements, software systems, and marketing strategies that any psychiatrist or psych NP can follow to launch their dream telepsychiatry practice right now. Let’s get into it! If…
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How to Start An Integrative Psychiatry Practice in 2023
Interested in starting an integrative psychiatry practice but don’t have a formal certification? Worried that you don’t have enough experience to start a practice on your own? I started Zen Psychiatry, my integrative psychiatry practice, in 2017, and absolutely love my work. In this post (and video) I’ll be sharing some of the basic principles…
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Psychiatry, Love, and the Healing Power of Connection
My talk at UCLA Tuesday was a smashing success! One person told me she has been going to psychiatry grand rounds since the 90’s and I got the first standing ovation she’s ever seen. I’ve uploaded the video and you can watch it below. If you’re reading this in email, click here to watch it directly on…
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The Problem With Evidence-Based Medicine
Before medical school I worked in a research lab investigating the relationship between stress and memory. As a research assistant, I dutifully administered memory test and collected saliva samples to test for cortisol levels. My boss sent the data to her statistician for analysis, and was thrilled to find that despite the lack of connection between…
Integrative Mental Health & the Healing Power of Connection
It’s only been two days since I arrived in St. Petersburg, Florida for the annual conference of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and my mind has already been blown about a dozen times. I’ve learned that even more than I previously realized, our ecosystem and environment have a profound effect on our…
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Are Antidepressants Mostly Placebos? Should We Care?
“Where there is a love of humanity, there is a love for the art of medicine” –Hippocrates, the father of western medicine When I was in middle school, I went to Lake Tahoe with my best friend on a ski trip. I had only been skiing a few times before, and even though my friend was…
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What is Integrative Psychiatry? The Principles You Need to Know
I didn’t set out to become an integrative psychiatrist. Like most doctors out there, I went through medical school and residency learning a “disease-based” approach of how the human body works. First, we learned what “normal” was. Then, we learned all the ways normal could go wrong. Our goal was to recognize, diagnose, and treat…
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Mythbusters 101: Why (Almost) Everything You’ve Read About The DSM-5 Is Wrong (And What The Truth Is)
Last month, in a debut surrounded by controversy, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) released the 5th version of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the book that contains listings of all the psychiatric diagnoses. Criticism came from several fronts. Were the changes scientifically based? Would criteria loosen, making psychiatric diagnoses even more commonplace? Would everyone and…
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The Gift Of Knowledge (Why I Love Being A Doctor)
About a year ago, my boyfriend Peter was in a serious motorcycle accident. He was driving along a major two-lane road when a car abruptly veered in front of him and slammed on the brakes.He tried to swerve but didn’t have enough time, hit the car and was thrown off his bike onto the concrete.…
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How To Rock Your Psychiatry Residency Interview
If you’re applying to residency in psychiatry (or any field, for that matter), you’re probably in the thick of the interview process. I remember flying and driving around the West coast, doing my best to impress as many programs and people as possible as to give myself the best chances during the match. Now that…
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How To Diagnose People You Don’t Like With Personality Disorders
Welcome to the wonderful world of Psychiatry. A place where there are all sorts of amazing diagnoses to give people who rub you the wrong way. A place where people aren’t just assholes, they’re Narcissistic. They’re not just dramatic and self-indulgent, they’re Histrionic. They’re not just emotionally labile and needy, they’re Borderline. Now, I’m not…
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Lessons Learned From An Intern Year – Finished
Intern Year: 0. Elana Miller: 1. Last Thursday at 8am I emerged from the hospital after a 24 hour call. It was like any other post-call day, except this day I was leaving the hospital as an intern for the last time. The intern year is feared by all. It’s the subject of countless books,…
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You Might Be An Intern If (Top 10 Reasons Why Intern Year Blows)
You might be an intern if… 10. You’ve ever been crossing the street on your way to the hospital, and thought, “if I got hit by a car, at least I probably wouldn’t have to go to work today…” 9. You’ve developed clinical signs and symptoms of PTSD in response to the sound your pager…
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How to Apply to Residency in Psychiatry
So this post won’t apply to everyone reading, but I actually get a decent amount of search traffic to this blog from terms like “should I go into psychiatry” (along with “medical school sucks,” but that’s a post for another time). So to give some helpful information to all the future psychiatrists out there, here’s…
Choosing Psychiatry as a Career
I wanted to share this email exchange I recently had with a reader (yes! I have a reader!). With her permission I wanted to share the dialogue here because she mentions issues that are really common among med students who struggle with choosing psychiatry as a specialty: Hey there, So, I have a question to…