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Emerging Lane | A Bridge to Better Living

Integrating mental health and wellness with ‘3 Core Integrative’

By Kathie Stamps

Nicole Sartini-Cprek (left) and Jennifer Owens, owners of Bridge Counseling and Wellness
in Louisville. (Hollie Collwick Photography)

Nicole Sartini-Cprek and Jennifer Owens own Bridge Counseling and Wellness, an integrative mental health and wellness center in Louisville. They offer counseling, walk and talk therapy, wellness retreats, yoga classes and a whole host of other services for high-functioning people with anxiety or depression, adults recovering from difficult childhoods, anyone seeking more balance in their lives, and people going through major life changes.

“I decided in my own therapists’ office in 2006 to become a therapist myself because of the personal work I had done recovering from PTSD and depression, and the insight and clarity I felt I had gained and hoped to articulate in a more useful manner,” Sartini-Cprek said. She is a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) and has a master’s degree in education with a focus in mental health counseling.

In January 2015 she and Owens joined forces to open Bridge Counseling and Wellness.

“The idea of recognizing the connection between the mind and body is foundational to our mental health philosophy, so ‘bridging’ any gap between those two things in the people we worked with seemed appropriate,” Sartini-Cprek said of the choice in selecting the business’ name. They started out in a small office in the Heyburn Building on Broadway, where each had been practicing as a solo clinician. Owens is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with a master’s degree in social work.

Their first offering was a weekly yoga class and soon they added a contract therapist and formed a group practice. In May 2015, Bridge moved to its current location on Baxter Avenue. It’s a converted old house that was built in 1875, the same year as the first running of the Kentucky Derby.

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As the business has grown – Bridge is now a team of 18 licensed professionals and growing – so has the space. The owners acquired an additional five offices at the building next door, and they are in the process of securing a third location this summer in another part of Louisville. Currently the business has a total of nine offices, a reception area and waiting rooms, a yoga and meditation studio, and a phlebotomy lab where clients can get their blood tested for vitamin deficiencies and hormone imbalances that might be affecting mood or anxiety levels. Bridge team members offer nutritional counseling as one of their integrative strategies.

“We purposefully stick to approaches that are evidence-based, not just anything that labels itself as holistic or integrative,” Sartini-Cprek said. “We are all licensed professionals who have done our own, and continue to do, our own mental health work.”

In 2019 the business owners launched the Academy of Integrative Mental Health (AIMH) to provide certification training for other mental health professionals in three core areas: movement/exercise, mindfulness/meditation and nutrition/supplements.

The Bridge partners call it “3 Core Integrative,” a program that incorporates the three most evidence-based complementary treatments for mental health.

“We have found through personal experience and the results of our five years of practicing this model that when clients receive a combined traditional treatment of talk therapy and/or med management and support in the 3 Core Integrative facets, a much higher level of improvement was achieved,” Owens said

“We wanted to help other providers feel confident and prepared to incorporate the foundations we use at Bridge into their own practice in an evidence-based and meaningful way,” Sartini-Cprek said.

Physical exercise has played such an important role for Owens in her own mental health and overall wellness – and that of her clients – that she became a licensed personal trainer. She is also a certified ecotherapist, a term combining ecology and psychology, referring to the healing power of nature.

“A substantial and growing collection of research suggests there are multiple mental and physical health benefits to connecting with nature,” Owens said, “including improved mood, reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms, and decreased anger, as well as lower blood pressure and improved immune function.”

She facilitates forest bathing workshops and other outdoor-based outings and retreats through Bridge Counseling and Wellness.

“We genuinely want the best for our clients and are incredibly honored to be a part of their healing journey,” Sartini-Cprek said. “We also believe that people doing good in the world are no less deserving of a good income than those working in a field where earning money is viewed as more acceptable. Fair pay helps make this important work more sustainable and the quality of service excellent.”