In 2009 I was one of five in the country to be awarded the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Exemplary Psychiatrist Award. NAMI is the leading mental health advocacy organization in the country, started and run by individuals and families with mental illness. For this reason I was particularly honored to receive this award. At the time I was working with a severely ill population of children and young adults in a program designed for “high risk youth” at Edgewood Center for Children & Families. With the goal of keeping kids from
being taken out of the home, I helped design programs like DBT and Family Therapy. Against the trend in my field, I believed our job was to foster skills and empower youth and families to heal trauma without solely relying on medication. Not only was this successful, it helped my patients find dignity through building the capacity to become self reliant and thus transform a narrative of loss and trauma into purpose and meaning.
This focus on healing trauma through mindfulness, somatic and family work lead me to take a greater interest in a new emerging field called Integrative Medicine. With the support of Dr. Myles Sparr at UCLA and Venice Family Clinic, I was awarded a scholarship by the Bravewell Collaborative to study under Dr. Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Leaving Community psychiatry, where I worked with the underserved, was a difficult decision for me, however I chose this path (and received this scholarship) based on a commitment I made to enter into this field to develop a new kind of clinic, and more innovative solutions. Specifically in the field of child psychiatry de-pathologizing our children, and instead re-aligning the conversation to include assessments on the impact of poor dietary options, breakdowns in family structure, community cohesion and resources, as well as broader social and environmental shifts, is a moral and public health priority to me.
I have lived in Los Angeles most of my life and am grateful to now be serving such a diverse and rich community. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley as part of a large and extended immigrant family and it was there that I learned first and foremost that healing occurs in communities that are committed to each others’ well being. Attending college at UCLA, then medical school at USC, I feel deeply attached to all sectors of our great city. Upon completion of both General Adult Psychiatry training and a fellowship in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at UC San Francisco, I returned to Los Angeles to help foster a much needed change in mental health care starting here in my home city. I look forward to meeting you and being of help.