Living with intention

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Medical facility practices holistic approach

By Nancy Edwards

Conventional medical practices these days often involve a long wait in a doctor’s office, followed by a rushed appointment and several hurriedly written prescriptions. 

Dr. Stephen Elliott was growing frustrated by this. A family practitioner, he became increasingly bothered by writing more prescriptions for increasingly chronic problems in patients.

“In the conventional model, I always had to compromise what I believed was in the patients’ best interest with what their particular insurance company and/or their particular managed care program would allow,” he said. “And I never had the time to actually get at the root cause of my patients’ problems. You can’t practice medicine in 10- or 15-minute appointments. It’s just not possible. It’s just not good care.”

Elliott decided to pursue his growing desire to practice functional medicine. In 2008, he and his wife, Linda, a licensed mental health counselor, opened Living With Intention, Inc., a private practice in Fishers.

Functional medicine

What’s original about Living With Intention is the fact that the practice supports functional medicine: understanding the root cause behind a diagnosis.

“It’s not a matter of what the diagnosis is, but rather why the diagnosis is,” Elliott said. “Most often this involves a return to basic science. The issue is this: Given a system that once upon a time was functioning well, where’s the dysfunction? Where have things broken down? What’s the true root cause of the problem – on a physiological, biochemical, nutritional, hormonal, genetic and/or metabolic level?

“And then, once we’ve identified the dysfunction, our primary objective is to fix it as naturally as possible, without automatically reaching for the prescription pad. That’s our goal. It’s that simple.”

One of Elliott’s patients, a 16-year-old, had been suffering from chronic constipation and abdominal pain since he was two. For years, the teenager had also been suffering from rashes, and was constantly clearing his throat and wheezing when he ran. His mother had taken him to doctors and specialists for tests, scopes and scans. The boy took one medication after another. Nothing worked.

The patient saw Dr. Elliott, who reviewed the teen’s medical records and suggested some “outside the box” testing. Elliott recommended a few supplements and a major dietary change, but no prescriptions.

“Six months later, his life was transformed,” Elliott said. “Abdominal pain? Gone. Constipation? Resolved. Where’s that plunger now? Don’t know. How’s the breathing, the cough, the wheezing? Virtually non-existent.

“Keep in mind, that’s only a story. It’s not a study. It’s not evidence of anything. We need to be careful and recognize that.”

Perhaps, but for that young man and his family, it was evidence enough. They were convinced functional medicine had something to offer.

Healing from within

Julie Schavey is another patient who swears by the office’s unconventional practices.

“Instead of saying, ‘Here’s a few pills (for anxiety),’ they are interested in finding the root of the problem. That’s something that’s very important to me,” she said.

A victim of abuse as a child, Schavey sought help for healing as an adult. She had seen one therapist after another, yet she was still struggling: at work, with relationships and with completing her goals in life.

“More than seven years ago, I definitely would not say my life was a shining example of anything,” she said.

Schavey decided to make an appointment with Linda Elliott and never saw a different therapist again.

“Linda gave time I needed to build trust with her so I could share where I came from and deal with (my problems) in a constructive way,” Schavey said. “In fact, I remember there were weeks when I was just so challenged by her. Linda would say, ‘Yeah, that’s what happened (as a child), but this is what’s happening right now. You weren’t in control then but you are now and have certain responsibilities.’”

Schavey appreciated Linda’s compassionate nature and raw honesty, eventually built healthy relationships and earned her bachelor’s degree, and has been married for three years.

The journey continues

The Elliotts recently moved their facility to 11979 Fishers Crossing Dr. and are bringing additional counselors on board with special expertise in child and adolescent therapy. They have also added a nutritionist and a massage therapist and hope to offer yoga classes in the near future. Their larger office space also provides them the opportunity to offer free-to-the-public educational seminars, which will also happen soon.

Living With Intention was recently honored at the Fishers Chamber of Commerce’s 12th Annual Pillar Awards and won the award for entrepreneurial spirit. The annual ceremony honors outstanding businesses in Fishers and surrounding communities.

As the Elliotts were receiving their Pillar Award last month, these words were shared: “These business owners have never changed their defining goal – to bring to the table a particular healing skillset of knowledge and education, of passion and compassion, of expertise and training – that leads to more optimal health. To live, and to heal, intentionally.”

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