By Anne Maertens
Business: Pacific Psychology
Owner: Dr. Jason Prinster
Opening date: March 1
Address: 2110 Iron St
Phone: (360) 927-6131
Square footage: 120
Dr. Jason Prinster, a psychologist with a background in clinical health and medical health psychology, opened Pacific Psychology March 1 in Bellingham.
At 37, Prinster has 10 years of experience practicing psychology, much of which was spent working with military professionals and their families. Working with military families has given Prinster the opportunity to help individuals work through a broad range of issues, from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“I’m bringing a new mix of skills and interests [to Bellingham],” Prinster said. “I’m young, and I’m going to be around for a long time.”
Prinster said he hopes to get involved with Whatcom County’s military community and do some pro bono work, as well as create a patient base that will keep him busy in Bellingham.
While Prinster has some specific specialties as a veteran and a military psychologist, he said he has a broad range of training and Pacific Psychology is an open practice for both military and non-military adults and children.
Prinster said he found that he enjoys working with older adults after practicing at a Veterans Affairs Clinic in Salt Lake City. Many elderly veterans suffer from dementia or a history of head injuries, a common ailment for veterans who have combat experience.
“The hallmark injuries of the [Iraq] war are PTSD and head injuries,” Prinster said. “That’s kind of the obvious stuff.”
The less obvious stuff is that the army deploys for a year or more, which can be very stressful for the family and friends who are left behind, he said. Spouses of military women and men temporarily become single parents, but they are often left to wonder if it will be temporary or if their partner will be killed in action.
“It affects a whole system,” Prinster said. “If 10,000 people are deployed, 50,000 are affected.”
As for the obvious, PTSD and head injuries can have symptoms that overlap, making it hard to distinguish which condition, if not both, someone is suffering from.
Prinster’s training allows him to perform clinical tests that help him differentiate between the two. If the problem is a head injury, Prinster works with his patients to develop practical skills that can help them deal with issues like memory loss.
This kind of therapy is part of his clinical health and medical psychology training. It puts an emphasis on lifestyle changes, which are important for many health problems, from head injuries to weight loss.
As for his new practice in Bellingham, Prinster said he hopes to become integrated in the community. With two young children, he and his wife chose Bellingham because they want to live in a beautiful place that will give their children stability.
Also, after living in Las Vegas where everything seems to be part of a larger chain, he said he wanted to live somewhere he could successfully own a small business.
“Bellingham seems like a friendly community for independent business, and it seems like there’s a pretty good support network,” Prinster said. “Businesses seem to be interested in other small businesses succeeding.”