Mental Health Practitioner: Tyler Woods, Ph.D
Cathy Sivak, NaturopathicSchools.com Contributing Writer
The Actual Work
Describe a typical day of work for you. On a basic level, what skills does your job demand?
What I love about my work is it changes on a daily basis. One of the first things I do upon meeting a new client is get a medical and mental health history. Then I give the client an eating journal and ask them to track their food intake. I remind them that I will not be looking at it, that I just want them to begin to notice how food influences their moods. I am a huge advocate that what we put in our mouth affects our biology and our moods.
I pay attention. That is where being a retired psychotherapist comes in handy. I watch my clients and I can tell if they are uneasy, if they have anxiety or if they have depression. The body carries a great deal of information. I listen carefully to their health symptoms. I believe if there is an issue, it is in the tissue. Normally if a client comes to me with depression or anxiety issues, they leave with a regiment of alternatives to help them with their symptoms.
The skills that I really use are compassion along with an understanding of mental health issues, and the knowledge needed to develop a program combining supplements and a diet designed to meet a client’s needs.
Can you describe a patient care anecdote that exemplifies your holistic practice?
I had a female client in her 40s. She had been on a variety of medications for over half her life for depression and anxiety. She had been in traditional therapy for years. Still, she was unable to function with her depression. Medications would work for a brief period of time, but she said the effects “wore off” eventually or side effects such as weight gain and digestive problems became too much for her, so she would take herself off the medications. She also experienced insomnia and was afraid to take medication for this condition because of the fear of becoming addicted to the sleep aid.
I suggested a regiment of high doses of Omega 3 and GABA for the anxiety and Calms Forte for her insomnia. We also made several changes in her diet. Within a few weeks she was sleeping better and her anxiety was much better, but the depression was still paralyzing her. We added folic acid to the supplement mix and began to explore her spiritual path. We slowly added swimming to her regiment. Now we are working on her spiritual self, her mental self, and her physical self. She realized that she always worked on either her mental health or physical health, but rarely worked on them both. Once she added a spiritual component to it, she stated she felt her treatment was very well rounded. Five months later, she started working and is now married and doing well.
What are the tools of the trade that you use the most? Favorite gadget?
Hope is the best tool of this trade. I can’t say I use a gadget. I’ve used vitamins, herbs, education, love, spirituality, insight and ritual. Ritual is a great “gadget.”Giving a client an item to hold onto is a wonderful tool as well. A rock, a healing stone, a crystal, something with positive energy that they can hold onto, goes a very long way.
What contributions do you feel the naturopathic profession has made in society?
Again, choice. It gives people a choice in their health care. Medicine has become an assembly line for the HMO companies. Doctors are allowed to spend something like 7. 5 minutes with each patient, and then bring out the prescription pad and write prescriptions. They no longer spend time asking important questions or suggesting alternatives. Holistic health is about listening to the clients’ needs, asking questions and allowing them to participate in their healing. The other huge contribution is holistic medicine doesn’t just mask symptoms, it heals!