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Mental illness affects millions of people each day; for some, it may feel like a lost cause. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults suffer from a mental illness, which is around 52 million of the American population.

For centuries, the traditional solution for mental illness has been prescription medications that are on occasion combined with psychotherapy (otherwise known as “talk therapy”). However, this solution has proven to be slow-moving when it comes to affecting mental health.

Medications typically take two months before coming into effect. From the perspective of the patient, that is sixty days of waiting for a medication to work while continuing to suffer from mental illness symptoms. After the two-month assessment, the dose may need to be altered or the medication changed. In those cases, it’s another two months of waiting to see if the new medication treatment will have an effect.

The real problem with the traditional medicine approach to mental health—in addition to how long it takes to make a difference—is that it’s a trial-and-error system. In the long run, this has no real benefit for the patient.

In order to combat mental illness and make positive improvements in mental health, patients need a treatment option that prompts results faster than two or more months. This is where ketamine therapy comes in.

Ketamine has been used medically since the 1950s, starting as an anesthetic. Since then, ketamine has become a therapeutic tool with reputable institutions backing up ketamine usage for mental illness. In 2019, both Harvard Medical School and John Hopkins Medicine released statements on how ketamine treats depression.

Ketamine therapy can be effective in treating depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even for patients who have been treatment-resistant. In other words, those suffering from mental illness who have had no relief through prescription medicine could potentially see positive changes after as little as 6 ketamine treatment sessions (2 weeks).

How To Provide Hope With Ketamine Therapy

ketamine therapy shelley christ

Shelley Christ (Psychiatric Nurse, DNP, PMHNP), has made great strides in treating mental illness with her ketamine therapy services. She is a board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with 35 years of expert experience in the field. Her focus is to offer hope, positive regard, and excellent customer service to those suffering from mental illness.

Since January 2021, Christ’s healthcare practice Hope for Healing Behavioral Health Center has been helping the community of Hartford County Connecticut with their mental health. Her philosophy is to provide hope and healing for those battling mental illness by taking a holistic approach and using a combination of treatments. Her treatment services include low-dose ketamine infusions, medication management, and comprehensive nutrition and hormonal assessments.

After the first 5 months of launching Hope For Healing, Christ made a guest appearance on Episode #201 of The Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy Podcast. It was on this show that she revealed her life’s mission of eliminating mental illness and how she has succeeded in this mission through the help of Ketamine Therapy Academy.

As an alumnus of Ketamine Therapy Academy, Christ has been using the education she received from the academy’s training course to accomplish her purpose of helping as many people as she possibly can who suffer from mental illness. On the podcast, she referred to Ketamine Therapy Academy’s instructions and suggestions as a template she has used for her success and claimed the academy made it possible for her by providing the bones to start her own practice and turn her vision into reality.

How To Go Above And Beyond For Patient Care

Jason A. Duprat (MBA, MSA, APRN, CRNA), the founder of Ketamine Therapy Academy and host of The Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy Podcast, has communicated on numerous occasions that the key to successful entrepreneurship is going above and beyond—taking extra steps that most are not taking. Christ exemplifies this philosophy with Hope For Healing’s dedication to always say yes and never leave a patient behind.

When discussing this with Duprat, Christ explained that Hope For Healing’s staff is always readily available for incoming patients by never missing a phone call (in case of a crisis) and appointments are scheduled as quickly as possible with very little wait times. With this practice standard, Hope For Healing is able to accommodate patients in a timely manner so they can receive help when they need it rather than waiting for weeks or even months at a time to begin the treatment process.

“We want to say yes and make people who come in feel welcome.”

— Shelley Christ

In addition to her exceptional staff practices, Christ goes above and beyond through Hope and Healing’s environment and atmosphere. Not only is the practice set up to be comfortable, soothing, and relaxing, but patients are offered drinks and snacks, allotted to bring a family member in with them, and given a sherpa blanket that they may keep and take home.

While actively working towards creating a welcoming and comfortable environment, Christ has made the healthcare equivalent to Disney (the happiest place on earth). She shared that her strategy for Hope For Healing is to offer the old nursing standards to clients, with positive regard and caring responses.

How To Make A Relaxing Space For Your Clinic

Christ’s journey of creating the physical space for her services is evidence of how potential could be found in the unlikely of places. Hope For Healing was originally an office space for an insurance company, with a large open space cluttered with cubicles, seven offices, a kitchen, and bathrooms. Although it may not have seen like a spa-like environment at first, Christ was able to convert the space into a welcoming place for mental health healing (with treatment rooms instead of offices and open space for group therapy in replacement of the cubicles). 

When discussing the process of making an idea into a physical reality, Christ claimed it was wonderful to physically build out her vision. She referred to Hope For Healing as “my happy place.”

ketamine clinic shelley christ
clinic ketamine therapy
ketamine therapy clinic

Photos showcase the interior of a Hope For Healing treatment room

She described Hope For Healing as a country-like setting that is quiet and peaceful. Her treatment rooms are equipped with massage chairs and anti-gravity chairs for nutritional and ketamine infusion therapy. To add to the relaxing environment, her treatment rooms are decorated with artwork (either abstract or inspirational quotes) that her clients can choose to replace in order to get the best and most comfortable experience.

Healthcare Services That Have Results

On the podcast, she was happy to share how she specifically designed her services to be short-term. This means that her clients will not have to undergo a long treatment process to experience relief from their mental illness symptoms.

Christ uses a manualized approach to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) by asking her clients to identify the negative thinking that causes them to feel depressed. Once identified, she works to change their way of thinking to help the behavior and feelings change in a positive direction. She does this because medicine typically only helps 1/3d people, whereas CBT can make a difference for approximately 60% of people.

Christ explained how CBT helps neurons (neuroplasticity) to grow—similarly to what ketamine does. This results in helping patients eliminate their toxic thoughts and replace them with more positive thinking, which can transition into recovery from depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

“When we make changes in the way we are thinking . . . we feel better and do better and the depression gets better.”

— Shelley Christ

Christ designed her treatment services around the C.O.P.E method (Coping Skills Programs for Personal Empowerment). Originally developed by Dr. Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk (PhD, APRN-CNP, FANNP, FNAP, FANN), C.O.P.E is a heavily researched behavioral therapy program that has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and unhealthy behaviors. Additionally, C.O.P.E can improve self-esteem and school or work performance. 

C.O.P.E is a 7-week program initially designed for kids, however, Christ was able to successfully adapt the program to appropriate work for adults. She explained that C.O.P.E shows great success in treating moods by helping to change the distorted thought process most people with mental illness experience. With Hope For Healing, she is able to help people retrain and regrow the neuro connections in their brain to battle mental illness and make improvements for their mental health.

By using a combination of CBT, ketamine, and nutritional management, Hope For Healing has made tremendous steps toward fighting against mental illness in her area. Christ has noticed one of her clients standing up straighter and witnessed his confidence returning. A loved one told her, “Since he started getting ketamine, he looks taller.”

When first starting ketamine treatment, patients usually come in with concerns (such as the fear of not knowing what ketamine will feel like for them). However, Christ had noticed that most of her clients come in already having done research on their own, so they know what questions to ask so they feel ready for the treatment.

It’s not uncommon for patients to have doubts when considering ketamine treatments. Communicating the potential benefits and risks will result in the patient feeling more comfortable as they are well-informed.

In addition to informing patients of the treatment process, Christ highlighted her communication process for treatment payments. Hope For Healing is not a healthcare business that works through insurance companies. However, Christ does provide an option for clients to potentially receive a payment reimbursement from their insurance.

All of Christ’s services are cash-based with upfront payments. After the treatment process is complete, she provides all of her clients with a superbill. With this superbill, a client’s insurance may reimburse the service payments partially or fully. Christ does heavily communicate that reimbursement is not guaranteed, but her business still provides it potentially through a superbill.

Christ uses Osmind, an electronic healthcare records system, to provide these superbills and to collect data to before improve her business operations and her client’s experience.

How To Get A Caring Staff

When it came to discussing her process of hiring staff, Christ shared that her experience with Ketamine Therapy Academy helped her to create an employee handbook that adheres to the law.

Christ actively works to have a staff that is open, loving, and warm. In order to do so, when conducting interviews for potential hires she prefers to start a conversation about her goals and passions. By communicating her mission, she is able to find like-minded people to add to her staff.

This approach for hiring staff is not only for her in-clinic staff, but also for all the individuals and/or companies who work for the benefit of Christ’s business. When first designing her business’s brand (from the logo to the color scheme to the website creation), Christ relied on the marketing firm Scout Collective.

With the help of Scout Collective, Christ was able to create a professional brand for Hope For Healing and increase her client roster with marketing tactics. Rather than having to rely on her limited marketing information, she was able to rely on a marketing staff that understands her mission.

“Hire someone who knows what they’re doing.”

— Shelly Christ

Duprat heavily encourages entrepreneurs to “hire it out” when it comes to business areas the entrepreneur has no expertise in (such as marketing, graphic design, etc.). On the podcast, Duprat explained the hire-it-out method as trusting an expert in their field to help you in your field of expertise. 

“You’ve spent so much time becoming an expert in your field, why split your time to distract yourself from your expertise to become an expert in a different field when you can just hire it out,” he said. 

However, Duprat advised those using the hire-it-out method to still educate themselves on all areas of business so when they hire an expert, they are not taken advantage of. By having some knowledge of the subject, you will know what questions to ask and what needs to be assessed during the hiring process.

Achieving Financial Security Before Resignation

Duprat’s goal for The Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy Podcast is to inspire, motivate, and educate healthcare entrepreneurs. Christ was able to accomplish this inspiration with how she described her process of launching Hope For Healing. Rather than quitting her current job upfront, she was able to work part-time through telehealth until the client roster for her business was built and ready. Her story proved that it’s possible to start a healthcare business without losing a much-needed paycheck.

Duprat shared his similar experience, where he worked a 24-hr shift 2–3x a week. During his off days, he was able to successfully build up his own business until it was ready for him to resign from his other job. Becoming a healthcare entrepreneur is a large jump, but it doesn’t have to be a financial burden; there’s no need to go months without a steady income to launch a business.

“If you want to make it work, you’re going to make it work.”

— Shelley Christ

Healthcare entrepreneurship is not necessarily an easy path, however, an early resignation is not required to start on this journey. Christ and Duprat both worked on launching their business (getting it all set up and ready for full-time operation) while continuing to work for their employer. Christ did explain it as hard work, but it is work that is possible and accomplishable.

There is also no specific deadline for when the entrepreneurial journey starts. Christ advised working slowly if you have paycheck dependency. If you cannot afford to drop part-time and lower your monthly income, becoming an entrepreneur is still possible; you can use any free time you have available to work toward launching your business. Whether it takes six months to two years, the path to entrepreneurship happens on your own determined timeline.

How To Live Your Dream And Help Others

Christ had expressed her joy by becoming a healthcare entrepreneur, as she’s not only able to live her passions but she’s also able to have freedom and autonomy with her career. She described it as having the independence to make her own hours and dictate how she feels it’s best to provide patient care.

Hope For Healing has been successfully working toward eliminating mental illness for the past year. So far, Christ has witnessed how her services have been improving people’s lives as they experience peace, joy, happiness, and relief. She had expressed her gratefulness toward Ketamine Therapy Academy for providing her with the necessary knowledge and tools for success to go after her passions and actively work toward seeing the change in the world that she wants to see.

“If you have calling, DO IT . . . It’s a fantastic way of life and a fantastic way to help people.”

— Shelley Christ

Ketamine Therapy Academy provides healthcare professionals the opportunity to help people find relief for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain. With the millions of people suffering from mental illness, there have yet to be enough ketamine practices to provide solutions for everyone. If you’re interested in following in Shelley Christ’s footsteps, a no-cost 60-minute training on how to gain more freedom with your own clinic is available. Anyone can open a ketamine practice, even if you’re not a physician just by following a few simple steps.

To learn more about Shelly Christ’s story, how ketamine therapy can impact mental health, or get more behind-the-scenes information on launching a healthcare business, Episode #201 of The Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy Podcast is available on most podcast listening platforms.

Are you a healthcare entrepreneur with an amazing story to share? You can apply to be a guest on the next Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy Podcast episode. Make a difference in the world of healthcare by inspiring, motivating, and educating entrepreneurs!