When conventional medicine and psychiatry felt like it wasn’t diving deep enough into their patients' problems, Megan Vardeman and Dr. Kriste Babbitt decided to found their own practice. Your Wellness Practice: Integrative Psychiatry and Wellness, located at 4295 San Felipe St., Ste. 205, Houston, opened in early 2022. Later that year, they teamed up with Dr. Bengi Melton, an integrative psychiatrist, to expand the hands-on clinical expertise available to patients.

The clinic sets themselves apart by using an integrative approach: instead of limiting their scope to routine psychiatric evaluations, they also look into underlying issues like personal relationships, genetics, nutrition, lifestyle, gut health and comprehensive lab evaluations. This allows them to make a thorough assessment from a whole-person, mind-body point of view.

“It is different from what most psychiatrists do in their routine,” Dr. Melton said. “We make comprehensive assessments and specialize in integrative psychiatry and functional medicine. Our patients enjoy learning more about themselves and how they can achieve their goals.”

How they came to be

Vardeman and Dr. Babbitt’s early careers and firsthand experiences within conventional medicine and psychiatry left them wanting more influence over the scope and depth of their clinical work. They were inspired to start their specialized practice.

“I felt I was using medicine as a band aid to cover up symptoms and not really help the patient heal from the problems that they were experiencing,” Vardeman said. “An integrative approach really allows us to move outside the box and help patients find healing and true wellness.”

As medicine continues to evolve, Dr. Babbitt sees a need to go back to some of the basics being overlooked, such as how much sleep patients are getting, what they are eating every day and their vitamin levels.

Out of respect for the fundamental importance of these foundations, the idea for Your Wellness Practice was born. Today, they serve patients with varying issues, such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, personality and mood disorders, trauma, stress and borderline personality disorder.

“Together [Megan Vardeman and I] decided to create this integrative practice to take a look at those interconnected processes and intervene at a foundational level to make an upstream and meaningful change, rather than coming at patches of symptoms from lots of different areas,” Dr. Babbitt said.

Elevated treatments

A main standout of Your Wellness Practice is the treatments they offer. While they offer conventional services like assessments, psychotherapy appointments and medication management, they also offer functional medicine evaluations and treatments, ketamine infusions, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, IV nutrition and other injection therapies.

Ketamine therapy is typically used to treat mental health concerns, addictive disorders and physical medical conditions, and can act as a rapid antidepressant. After patients are medically cleared to start ketamine infusions, most start off with two infusions a week for three weeks. Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy takes place in the office during a 3-hour-long session with a psychotherapist present.

Therapy is an essential part of integrating the benefits of ketamine as a medicine, and as an integrative practice, Your Wellness Practice believes strongly in the synergy that comes with combining these modalities.

“This is a big part of what makes us unique--we are able to use psychedelics like ketamine which can be an effective treatment for depression and trauma,” Dr. Melton said.

IV nutrition, injection therapies and wellness plans fall under the practice’s functional medicine treatments. Vardeman, who is the subject expert for functional medicine, looks closely into how a person’s lifestyle can affect their mental health.

“Nutrition plays a large part: if a patient is not getting the necessary vitamins and micronutrients, the body stops doing what it needs to do,” Vardeman said. “Functional medicine takes a root cause approach. The goal is to help the patients dig deeper into their symptoms and find the origin of the problem.”

New patient process

New patients will need a psychiatric evaluation, lifestyle assessment, bloodwork and possibly specialty testing to see if they need additional supplementation or lifestyle modification.

“Before [a new patient] comes in, we offer a short phone call, because we don't want patients to think that they're just going to another psychiatrist's office,” Dr. Melton said. “We want them to be knowledgeable about how we separate ourselves and what we offer to make sure we are a good match.”

To start the process, patients can visit their website and fill out a short form.

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