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Akhena Health and Wellness, which offers counseling, medication consultation and Hindu therapy, recently opened

COURTESY PHOTO - Akhena Health & Wellness is located near the Black Bear Diner in Wilsonville.

Justin Hoyt, the owner of Akhena Health & Wellness, noted that many people are struggling to maintain mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. And he hopes his new clinic in Wilsonville can help clients work through their issues and regain peace of mind.

Akhena Health & Wellness opened in late 2020 next to the Black Bear Diner on Southwest Holly Lane.

The clinic offers psychiatric medication management, individual and family therapy and spiritual coaching.

Hoyt, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, graduated from the school of nursing at Vanderbilt University and also has a master of fine arts in metal craft and design. He thinks talking through issues while keeping the hands occupied can be a key component of therapy.

"There's a lot of research about (people) using their hands and that texture of clay when you're working with it that can be therapeutic," Hoyt said, adding that grooming and walking alongside horses can also be therapeutic and he hopes to eventually buy land to incorporate equine therapy into his practice. For now, clay, LEGOs and drawing will suffice.

"That sometimes eases the tension while you're talking about mental health problems and issues or things that are difficult to talk about," Hoyt said.

COURTESY PHOTO - Hoyt But Hoyt's specialty relates to the use of psychotropic medications to help people dealing with issues like anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

"A combination of therapy and medication can be really effective for those kinds of things. It's something I don't push on people. I tell them I'll maybe suggest things but it is up to the patient to make that decision if they want to do something," he said.

He also emphasizes mindfulness techniques to reduce stress.

Hoyt's colleagues include Shannon Phelps, who is a licensed professional counselor, and Suhaila Devidasi, who specializes in Vedic (a religious tradition) counseling and Hindu spirituality.

Hoyt said they don't try to "indoctrinate" people into Hinduism but that the practice, which involves addressing personal issues through prayer, meditation and dietary suggestions, helps foster a healthy perspective.

"It's very inclusive so you don't have to be a Hindu or not necessarily believe in it. She (Devidasi) would be grateful for those who are curious about learning about it and trying it," Hoyt said.

Akhena is offering both in-person and telehealth options for therapy. Eventually, Hoyt is hoping to bring aboard a naturopath, acupuncturist and massage therapist.

"I would like to make this a very robust, integrated clinic that's interprofessional and has a multimodality, holistic approach to care," Hoyt said.

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