Expert Profile - Leah Miller
MC, LAC, Integrative Psychotherapist
Leah Miller’s Bio:
Leah Miller is a skilled, multi-disciplinary licensed associate counselor devoted to helping clients exceed their goals and thrive. Her approach draws on her extensive experience and training and a true dedication to helping people transform. She received her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Phoenix Seminary. She also holds a health coaching certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has trained with Leslie Korn, Ph.D. in Nutritional and Integrative Medicine for Mental Health Practitioners. In addition, Leah is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Somatic Experiencing —a body-oriented approach to healing trauma and other stress disorders. Leah is currently enrolled in a year-long fellowship for integrative psychiatry.
Leah’s work is underwritten by her holistic approach to meeting vital mental health and wellness objectives. She utilizes her dynamic background to help clients approach their goals through a mind-body-spirit paradigm, allowing them to transcend past limitations and create a foundation for lasting wellness. Leah weaves her knowledge of psychology, health, nutrition, and lifestyle choices with trauma resolution modalities such as Somatic Experiencing and EMDR to help people reconnect with their best selves and flourish.
Leah currently sees clients at her private practice, Leah Miller Integrative Psychotherapy, and is adjunct faculty at The Arizona Trauma Institute where she teaches on Trauma and Mind/Body Medicine, and as a guest lecturer at The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, teaching on Trauma and Addiction. Leah is also the Founder and CEO of AlcheMÉ Wellness, a mental health startup, providing at-home testing for biomarkers associated with mental health.
What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your desire to pursue a career in psychotherapy?
My mother, maternal and paternal grandmothers all lived with autoimmune diseases, with my paternal grandmother passing away due to complications from her illness. I was my mother’s primary caregiver for the year and a half before she passed away from her fight with cancer. So when at 25, I started having strange and unexplainable symptoms, and then at 27, living bedridden with no diagnosis, I began to try and put the pieces together for myself. I found no support from the allopathic medical community, which left me confused, depressed, and alone. So, I started searching for answers, but it wasn’t until the first year of my master’s program that the pieces started to fall into place.
As I sat in my childhood development class, a slide came up on the screen. It was about a study developed in the’ 90s’ called the Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey. It was a 10 question survey about adversity in childhood. The study showed that as adversity increased, the incidents of chronic mental and physical health conditions rose drastically. I was looking around the class, amazed. How did people know this stuff, and we weren’t shouting it from the rooftops? It seemed clear that the most significant health crisis facing America was trauma and adversity.
I come from a family that has struggled with substance abuse and mental health struggles, and I am now a person in long-term substance abuse recovery. As I experienced mental health struggles, drug addiction, grief, and numerous family crises, I was being impacted and shaped in ways that I was unaware of. Coming full circle, I know that these experiences shaped my desire to pursue psychotherapy and integrative mental health and a drive to provide more people with real healing options.
How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? How, if at all did those events impact the way you view how our current system teaches us to treat patients with mental health challenges?
These experiences shaped me in so many ways, some that I have come to know and some that are still being revealed. My first experience with integrative and functional health was when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I saw the way that she was suffering as a result of her treatments and the medical system at large. That launched me into my first investigative effort to try and find her relief.
Through integrative and naturopathic medicine, I saw her get relief from pain and manage her symptoms for the first time. My experiences with my mother and later trying to find my own diagnosis influenced how I work with clients and see the body and health vs. disease.
When and why did you decide to actually focus on practicing Integrative psychotherapy, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
I started focusing on integrative health during the second year of my counseling master’s program. I obtained a certificate as an integrative nutrition health coach and began looking for ways to weave what I had learned into my clinical work.
By my second year as a therapist, I opened my private practice focusing specifically on integrative health and mental health nutrition. I learned that seeing clients from a whole-person perspective led to real and sustainable changes that clients had not experienced in the traditional medical model.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Internal Family Systems
Mental Health Nutrition
How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
Most of my clients have been very receptive to an integrative approach, particularly when I explain how our mental and physical health is connected. My favorite example for clients is that 90% of our serotonin is produced in the gut and not in the brain. I can use the best therapeutic approaches, but if you have poor gut health, you will have poor mental health. This example really resonates with people. Once we begin adding in integrative modalities and my clients start seeing results, it becomes very natural to utilize in session and very rewarding as a practitioner.
Unfortunately, there is still a pretty big divide between the mental health and medical communities. While I have come across some providers who are interested and receptive to an integrative model, a large portion of “the old guard” is still not interested in hearing about these alternative approaches.
Luckily, as adjunct faculty at the Arizona Trauma Institute, I have met large numbers of providers that take my courses who are interested and hungry for more information and training on integrative approaches to psychotherapy.