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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

EMPATHIC PRACTICE: A Holistic Approach to Mind-Body Wellness

Sep 01, 2019 03:22PM ● By Allison Gorman

If a single clinic could encapsulate the enlightened future of health care, it would be Empathic Practice, in Pensacola. It blends elements of traditional medicine, natural and non-pharmacologic treatments, as well as mind-body-spirit therapies, to encourage patients to become informed partners in their wellness journey.

“Our path is to walk by our patients’ side,” says Felipe Muñoz, mindfulness and meditation coach at Empathic Practice. “Our team members combine medical expertise and alternative health experience to help them navigate how they feel every day. We teach them how to identify their needs, and then, using a holistic approach, we help them build their path with a custom plan and corrective feedback.”

William Hass, M.D., a board-certified physician with more than 40 years’ experience, including pain management, established Empathic Practice in 2018, with the mission of delivering innovative holistic treatment for a wide range of medical conditions.

"It's not about a pill or a plant—it's about people," Hass says. 

As the clinic’s medical director, he believes that giving options to clients and patients and listening to them is what makes a difference in the clinic's approach.

The broad scope of treatments and therapies made available at Empathic Practice reflect his interest in resilience and mindfulness education, as well as an interest in herbal medicine. Depending on the patient’s needs, a treatment plan there might include any combination of modalities, including medical marijuana evaluation, mindfulness and meditation training, life coaching, health and wellness coaching, massage therapy, Ayurvedic medicine, qigong and yoga.

 Focus on Mindfulness

Empathic Practice offers a wealth of treatment options. Some of the most common

mental/emotional symptoms that bring patients to Empathic Practice include stress, tiredness, lack of focus, anxiety, distraction, frustration, confusion and feelings of hopelessness, Muñoz says.

“We’re here to support our patients while they walk the path of healing,” he says. “Our goal is to provide guidelines to improve performance, better their mood and manage expectations. It’s a perfect way for them to know where to focus their efforts to develop themselves and grow toward their most important goals.”

A major focus of Empathic Practice is the mind-body-spirit connection. Muñoz, an internationally certified meditation teacher and life coach, directs this component of the practice. He has spent more than a decade helping people find their purpose and align their actions and goals. At Empathic Practice, he brings his expertise in mindfulness, meditation and art into a clinical healing setting, offering holistic support in a warm, personal, compassionate way.

“Our mindfulness and meditation coaching method helps everyone that wants to add these tools of self-improvement to their lives,” he says. “Its preferential treatment and holistic approach puts the patient’s well-being before anything else.”

In addition to group guided meditations, Empathic Practice offers one-on-one meditation and mindfulness coaching sessions. The clinic also provides individual sessions with Amanda Simmons, the natural health and wellness coach and one of several certified yoga instructors at the practice.

"I believe in reincorporating the basics of health and wellness back into our lives by using whole foods, super foods, movement, breath and other simple yet highly effective tools,” Simmons says. “Diet can be fun with open-mindedness and a little knowledge. I love to share my passion of shifting mindset to health and then shifting what's on our plate; the combination is powerful. I know we're meant to live our healthiest and happiest lives. I’m simply a guide to coach and inspire individuals to get there."

 Medical Marijuana Evaluations

Empathic Practice is one of many medical clinics that opened in response to Florida’s new medical marijuana law, which allows state-approved dispensaries to sell medical marijuana when it’s been recommended for certain conditions.

As a physician licensed to prescribe medical marijuana, Hass says he takes that responsibility seriously—a stance reflected in the thoroughness of his evaluation process. First, because there are variations in people’s response to the types of medical marijuana, as well as their genotype and tolerance level, Empathic Practice offers a DNA test that helps people understand the connections between cannabis and individual genomics.

Second, Hass spends considerable time on evaluation, to give each patient the best opportunity to get good results as quickly as possible. Traditional insurance does not cover medical marijuana, he says, and so using trial and error to find the right drug, the right dose and the right method of administration can be time-consuming and expensive.

“We want to educate the patient so they’ll go to the dispensaries more informed and not feel overwhelmed by the options available," he says.

Empathic Practice differs from many medical marijuana practices in Florida because it doesn’t consider the medication the sole treatment solution, Muñoz says. “Medical marijuana is part of our holistic approach. We want people to treat medical marijuana with respect, and that’s where all the other methodologies of care that we offer feed in.”

Cassandra Cusack-Curbelo M.D., who works with Empathic Practice offering education about herbs and the millennia-old methods of Ayurveda, sees plant-based treatments as an integral part of holistic medicine.

"As we continue to expand our understanding of how human health interacts with the natural world around us, we will deepen our relationship with the phytopharmacopia alongside which we have evolved, healing our bodies and expanding our consciousness in ways that allow us to cultivate our healthy, whole, higher selves,” she says.

Every patient with a medical marijuana recommendation from Empathic Practice has access to a mindfulness coach and guided meditation sessions. Other services available include life coaching, health and wellness coaching, massage therapy, Ayurvedic medicine, qigong and yoga.

“We believe the totality of these treatments can make wellness more attainable,” Hass says. “When patients understand their relationship with their emotions a little better, they’ll know how to center themselves and go to the right mindset before using. Mindset and setting are important to any medical treatment, but with medical marijuana, it’s essential. So having that support, having that base, allows them to benefit from what medical marijuana has to offer, whether recommended for pain, anxiety, PTSD or nausea.”

Focus on Wellness

Achieving and maintaining wellness rarely involves a quick, easy solution, and it generally involves leaving our comfort zones, Muñoz says. A simple solution, be it a pill or plant, may not be effective. Dealing with a poor diet, insufficient sleep, inadequate exercise and high stress from the pace of modern life is essential too.

Zulma Berenice, a Purpose Life coach and holistic health practitioner who works with biomagnetic and bionenergy therapy at Empathic Practice, points out that when mind-body-spirit is at the forefront of all the clinic's day-to-day operations, the benefits are apparent almost immediately.

"This team has set its intention to facilitate the return of health to their patients," she says.

Traditional medicine, as embodied by medications and treatments, makes an admirable attempt to treat ailments, but for many patients, the more vital issues are lifestyle related, Muñoz says. “Behavioral change—the keystone of lifestyle medicine—requires special attention that doesn’t fit into the busy clinical schedule of many providers. But it’s precisely those lifestyle changes that will make medical care cheaper, safer, faster and more productive.”

Location: 801 E. Cervantes St., Ste. C, Pensacola, FL. For more information, call Empathic Practice at 850-777-3334 or visit

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