Bio: Audry Van Houweling has a passion for destigmatizing the emotional struggles and burdens so many of us experience throughout life. For the past 10 years, she has worked in various mental health settings, primarily in rural and underserved areas. She completed her nursing education in Wyoming and Montana where she developed a passion for rural health care and was especially struck by the need for mental health care. After working in traditional psychiatric settings as a nurse practitioner focused on pharmaceutical interventions, Van Houweling was compelled to explore the functional medicine model. She began investigating root causes including nutrition, physical activity, hormone imbalance, inflammation and detoxification among other contributors. After becoming convinced that functional medicine was common sense medicine, Van Houweling opened She Soars Psychiatry, LLC, a functional and holistic psychiatric practice with locations in Sisters and Silverton, Ore. She believes that functional medicine can empower both clinicians and patients to work toward tangible and sustainable solutions.
When you were in school, how did you envision your future work?
The curriculum in the UWS human nutrition and functional medicine (HNFM) certification program inspired me to consider the possibilities on how I can make the mental health experience more personalized and empowering, as well as provide more sustainable outcomes for my patients. The program provided me with confidence to depart from the traditional psychiatric setting and pursue a model I felt was aligned with my passions and ethics, so I began She Soars Psychiatry, LLC.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I am honored to be able to listen to a patient’s story, vulnerabilities and struggles, which is a great privilege. My patients inspire me daily with their resilience and remind me that emotional burdens, anxiety and sadness are not always indicative of mental illness, but of the human experience. Furthermore, I am humbled to witness life-changing emotional and physical transformation largely guided by a functional medicine framework.
How does having a specialization help set you apart from the rest?
Unfortunately, the quality and accessibility of our mental health options in Oregon and throughout the country are not stellar. People have in many cases had to endure long wait times, jumping from specialist to specialist with fragmented communication. In short, there are many disillusioned patients who have not had the greatest experiences with mental health care. Functional medicine is, by nature, holistic and personalized. Many of my patients are not only struggling with emotional wellness, but multiple non-psychiatric health conditions. When patients can appreciate the interconnections, they can in many cases work towards holistic solutions that improve their whole health- mind, body, and soul. At She Soars Psychiatry, LLC, the mission is to emphasize that each client has an important story, and that their story is central to understanding who they are and who they can become.
What is your advice to current students when it comes to determining what their specialization will be?
Ultimately, choose a specialty that resonates with you and one that you can become passionate about pursuing and practicing. Becoming comfortable with functional medicine is a process and one that can feel overwhelming at first. Consider a smaller niche that motivates and inspires you rather than feeling you must be competent at everything right away. Remember that one of the major tenets of functional medicine is self-care, so make sure whatever you decide allows time for you to strive for balance and contentment, which will emanate to your clients too!