BAR HARBOR — A group of mental health professionals and alternative healers are teaming up this year to provide free walk-in clinics for the Mount Desert Island Community.
“It’s an integrative medicine clinic, so there’s a high level of communication between providers,” co-founder Sarah Tewhey said. “We see a lot of the same patients and clients.” With patients’ permission, the providers “bounce ideas off each other so [the patient gets] more complete care.”
Meanwhile, psychotherapist Milja Brecher-DeMuro founded The Counseling Collaborative (TCC) in Hulls Cove last year with fellow counselors Dawn Nuding and Tara McKernan.
What the two groups have in common, Tewhey said, is “the idea that people aren’t walking in broken. They’re walking in as whole people who don’t need fixing, they just have something going on (physical, mental, emotional) that they need some help with.”
Brecher-DeMuro said she and her colleagues focus on a client’s strengths and gifts. “We look for, where is this person thriving? Because they are resilient, because they got here and they’re still breathing. So how can we tap into what is working and have that grow?”
Providers in both groups are convinced that their collaborative practices offer benefits for them as well as for their patients.
“Our best work is not done in a silo,” Brecher-DeMuro said. When she was working in a solo practice, she found meeting with colleagues weekly or monthly was not enough.
“The ability to pop into somebody’s office, to have that kind of creative energy” is important, she said, “because the work that we do is so personal and is so intense. More traditional medical facilities are moving towards this collaborative model – the group practice or medical home.”
The 54 Herrick and TCC teams hope to host monthly free clinics beginning soon.
“The idea is allowing everybody to have access to wellness and to fullness and to these various different approaches to that,” Brecher-DeMuro said. “We don’t want wellness to only be in the hands that can afford it.”
Many of the providers already do a lot of pro bono work, but find that patients are sometimes uncomfortable when they’re unable to pay, Tewhey said.
A first clinic was originally scheduled for this week, but has been postponed due to scheduling conflicts. They hope to begin clinics this winter, Tewhey said.