Natasha Pantti-Dulberg wasn’t sure the timing was right to pursue a PhD degree, but after seeing countless “signs,” she could no longer ignore her apparent destiny. Natasha reported that she wasn’t initially drawn to Saybrook University. That all changed when she attended the Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s Advanced Training Program in San Antonio, Texas, and met the Chair of Saybrook’s Mind-Body Medicine program, Dr. Donald Moss, when they participated in the same small group.
Natasha concluded that it was inevitable that she become a Saybrook PhD student in the Integrative Mental Health specialization, because it seemed to provide exactly the curriculum and credentials she was seeking to support her confidence in herself as a competent integrative mental healthcare provider in the currently shifting healthcare world. Although she was initially unsure of her decision to enroll, due to her already busy life working full-time with two small children at home, all hesitant feelings were quickly assuaged when she was introduced to her cohort at that first conference. She knew this group of “movers and shakers” was special; she sensed their uncommon drive to passionately commit to health and service. This cohort was “her tribe,” and so began a powerful and transformative journey for Natasha.
“What’s particularly fascinating about Saybrook,” Natasha noted, “is that it’s a rigorous program, but the skills and techniques you learn help you to simplify life as you navigate your way through the demanding schedule.” She also commented that “the skills and knowledge that we learn allow us to help others, while we simultaneously learn to improve our own lives. Personal integration of what we learn is an essential first step in order to use these skills to help others.” Natasha reflected on Saybrook’s uniqueness in the sense that it allows one to academically study a phenomena, while having the opportunity to live and experience it as well. This concept in particular has fueled Natasha’s dissertation topic, which will involve the concepts of synchronicity and intuition in relation to spirituality. More specifically, Natasha is fascinated with investigating what kinds of experiences direct human beings towards their destiny and toward what they’re ultimately meant to do.
Shortly after her enrollment in the doctoral program, Natasha came to the realization that she needed to assert herself at work and limit the time and energy she was putting into her demanding role as a public school mental health clinician, unless she could find a way to integrate more of her new knowledge into this job. She felt that the skills she was learning could greatly improve efficiency and wellness for the whole organization. Natasha presented her ideas to the program director, who was unenthusiastic. It was at this moment that Natasha came to her first profound revelation—as long as she was working full time for this organization, she would not be able to do what she was truly passionate about. As a mental health clinician, she was able to use her mind-body skills with the few children that crossed her path, but she knew that this would not create the momentous systematic change she was striving for. Over the course of the following summer, Natasha limited her school district career to half-time, which allowed her a more manageable work/life balance and fueled her passion in opening her own coaching business.
During this time, Natasha experienced significant transformations within her career and her relationships. To her surprise she found herself managing major upheavals in her life, unimagined prior to integrating mind-body skills into her life. Looking to the horizon, Natasha is now collaborating with a colleague to create the foundations for introducing mind-body skills groups into substance abuse facilities and other organizations in the north county San Diego area. Natasha discovered that substance abuse populations are highly receptive to learning mind-body techniques because these skills address trauma, and teach individuals how to care for their minds and bodies without using substances to cope.
As she moved through the Saybrook doctoral program, Natasha marveled at the systemic power of Saybrook. She commented that this program is “equipping us to spread our knowledge and innovative science-based approaches for better health outcomes across the world.” With the intimate format of the webinars and residential conferences, and the frequent peer-to-peer/student-to-faculty online communications with an international and diverse student body, Saybrook students are able to build deep personal bonds and professional collaborative relationships with each other “reach across the globe for true systemic change in a global culture.”