Hi! My name is Vanessa, a fellow journeyer, psychotherapist, psychiatrist and artist. I am so excited to meet you! I would like to share a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other! This About Me page is more about you than me. I want to share my story so you can see if our values resonate and if our paths are meant to meet.
From a young age, I have always questioned the meaning of life. (Gosh, this got deep really quickly!) This contemplation brought me onto my spiritual journey. I searched far and wide, at first while climbing trees in my backyard in Upstate NY when I was younger and eventually on solo backpacking trips through Southeast Asia and Costa Rica. The more I searched, the more questions popped up. I walked El Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage, 900 kms from France to the Coast of Spain, to find myself. I got closer, but the search continued. I then spent some time at a spiritual intentional community, Lama, in Taos, New Mexico, where Ram Dass's Be Here Now was originally published. There must be more to all of this! I then went to India in search. I visited major temples in Tamil Nadu and attended a meditation retreat at Sadhguru's ashram.
Existential crises and dark nights of the soul were interspersed along the way. My working conclusion? It's all within! Living in the great mystery and in the questions grants me solace. Creating art has been a huge therapeutic outlet, allowing myself to express what comes from within. I also find refuge in nature, particularly at the ocean. I find comfort in meditation, yoga, dancing, swimming and riding my bike. I also have an adventurous spirit, paragliding at age 15 and skydiving at age 18. Hang-gliding and scuba-diving were fun too! My love for the sky has also taken me to 16 hours of private airplane lessons.
Feel free to check out my professional journey below as well!
Integrating Mind, Body and Soul
Education and Training
Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
Hackensack Meridian Ocean University Medical Center Psychiatry Residency
I earned my B.A. in Human Biology, Health and Society and a Minor in Global Health. I was fortunate to complete my Global Health field work in Tanzania and have had additional learning opportunities in Peru and Ecuador. These experiences opened my eyes to the complexities of healthcare and I gained an appreciation for the importance of multi-disciplinary care with attention to education, policy, government, sanitation, infrastructure and access to health care.
During medical school, I was fortunate to have in-depth exposure to integrative medicine through the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona and through HEART-IM- Integrative Medicine and Humanistic Elective in Activism, Reflective Transformation and Integrative Medicine by the American Medical School Association and University of New Mexico.
These experiences focused on various modalities of integrative medicine including botanicals, homeopathy, mind-body, nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine, osteopathy and energy medicine.
I was also awarded the Gold Humanism Award which recognizes medical students who demonstrate humanistic qualities, excellence and commitment in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service and patient-centered medicine.
In addition, I participated in a 10-week MBSR, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, adapted meditation group that was created by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. This program offered mindfulness training to assist with stress, anxiety, depression, and pain.
During my Psychiatry residency, I served as Wellness Chair and founded the Ocean Seasons Wellness Newsletters, quarterly newsletters featuring nutrition, joyful movement, inspirational quotes and a written reflection on the season. I planned and organized Wellness Hours featuring presentations from Integrative Psychiatrists, Holistic Registered Dietitians and Community Mental Health Advocates speaking about LGBTQIA+ community and socioeconomic determinants of health. We had the great fortune of having Frederic C. Craigie, PhD speak to us about Clinician Wellbeing and Spirituality and great pleasure to have Nina Stoyan-Rosenzweig speak to us about Medical Humanities.
I was also fortunate to participate in the Mind-Body Medicine Skills Group, The University of Arizona College of Medicine Psychiatry built upon The Center for Mind-Body Medicine approach. During this training, I learned more about mindfulness, breathing techniques, meditation, biofeedback, autogenics, guided imagery, genograms, reflection, creative expression and movement for an enhanced knowledge of evidence-based techniques!
During residency, I joined the Water Keeper’s Community facilitated by Dr. Elizabeth Gutierrez, multidimensional psychiatrist and a somatic therapist. I continue to learn about human ecological restoration through personal healing, transformation and community connection.
I was also fortunate to be granted the opportunity to speak at the 9th Annual Caring for the Human Spirit Conference & International Westberg Symposium on the Biological-Psychological-Social-Spiritual Model.