Born and raised in suburban Michigan, from an early age Susanna sought after adventure and new territories. Her interest in nature and outdoors activities lead her to Colorado College at age 18 where she soon fell in love with rock-climbing, trail-running, backpacking, mountain biking, and anything physically challenging that took place outside. Her love for the outdoors extended into her academic interests as well as she pursued her bachelor degree in environmental science. During her early college years, she also developed a deep interest in yoga, which lead her to sign up for a yoga teacher-training course. Although completely comfortable and happy in Colorado, Susanna received a clear insight during meditation one day that the next big adventure would be spent in South Asia.
Trusting her intuition, Susanna traveled abroad the following semester to Nepal where she apprenticed with a yoga teacher and took classes in Hinduism and Buddhism. Living intimately with her Nepali host-family, she was able to see the important role that spirituality played in their daily lives. As Susanna’s appreciation for yoga and eastern religion grew, she decided to change her college major to comparative religion upon returning to Colorado. Amidst her studies in religion, Susanna found she was most intrigued by the connection between spirituality and physical health. She went on to create an independent study course on the mind-body connection and eventually wrote her thesis on religion/spirituality's role in healthcare. Little did Susanna know that she was about to experience a spiritual and health crisis of her own.
In the fall of her last year of college, Susanna developed injuries in both of her feet, causing her outdoor adventuring to come to a stark halt. Her foot pain was just the initial stage of what soon became a chronic “mystery illness” consisting of joint pain, fatigue, muscle aches, acne, and abdominal pain. At age 21 she found herself being pushed around in a wheelchair by her parents in order to get around. She took time off from school in order to get to the bottom of what was causing her symptoms, but the more doctors she visited and the more testing that was performed, the less hope she had for recovery. With completely normal lab results, it appeared that no doctor could explain to her why she was in so much pain. Just as she was about to give up all hope, she visited one more doctor who had a unique approach. This doctor sat with Susanna for 1.5 hours until he fully understood her situation. He gave her a treatment consisting of diet and lifestyle modifications along with some supportive nutrients. Within 2 weeks, Susanna experienced an 80% improvement in her symptoms, but what was more valuable to her was the clear knowing through experience that the body can heal itself when it is given the proper support.
Through her own healing experience, Susanna also had the clear insight that her purpose in this life was to support others in navigating through their own healing journeys. Fueled by the inspiration of purpose, Susanna completed her degree in religion, tacked on an additional year of pre-med courses, and applied to Naturopathic Medical School where she not only received a rich education and clinical experience, but also met her beloved partner in life, Dr. Benjamin. Hearing about Benjamin’s background in spiritual psychology inspired Susanna to attend the University of Santa Monica to further deepen her understanding in the mind-spirit connection and gain skills in counseling. Upon completion of this program, Susanna continued her practice in counseling as a peer counselor at her naturopathic university’s counseling center.
Today, Dr. Susanna is able to see how her love for nature, spirituality, and health have beautifully come together to inform her style of practicing medicine that uses nature and mindfulness to support the innate healing ability of each individual on the level of the mind, body, and spirit. She continues to pursue her passions outside of Alter Health with yoga, hiking, cycling, swimming, creative cooking, gardening, traveling and her above-all-favorite activity, spending time with the wonderful Dr. Benjamin.