Summit County resident David Mikel remembers one moment as vividly as if it were yesterday.
He remembers looking down at his swollen and bruised knee and slowly drifting off to sleep from exhaustion, after tearfully realizing at the age of 21 that his sports dreams had suddenly ended.
For 17 years, baseball was Mikel’s life.
Mikel, who started playing baseball at the age of 4, said, “The passion came really quickly.” “I’ve been spending a lot of time playing baseball, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve spent more time. …I was still going to school every day, going to the gym, and then going to the batting center and indoor training facility. . Basically, many hours a day.”
Mikel said his immigrant family instilled in him discipline and hard work. Immediately out of high school, Mikel played catcher for the Miami Marlins and then attended Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. Mikel played two years at Le Moyne, then transferred to nearby University at Albany for the remainder of his college eligibility.
After several successful seasons in Albany, Mikel’s lifelong dreams were quickly dashed. When he returned home for the holidays and was officiating hockey games to earn money, Mikel’s knee became permanently locked in place and he tore his meniscus.
As a result, Mikel missed his entire senior year at Albany and was not considered by professional teams due to his hip knee.
“All the scouts basically said I was a 21-year-old catcher with bad knees and they weren’t interested in me anymore,” Mikel said. “I remember crying through the night, realizing that for the past 17 years I had a singular mission: to become a professional baseball player. I was well on my way toward that goal, and then suddenly was taken away from me.”
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Unsure what to do next with his life, Mikel followed what he called his “social blueprint” and returned to Marymount University to earn a master’s degree in forensic psychology.
After graduating, Mikel became a litigation psychologist, a job he enjoyed for seven years before deciding it was time to change his current path.
“Towards the end of 2009, we realized that we had reached all the metrics we were aiming for,” Mikel said. “I wanted to win this title. I was 27 years old and a senior consultant. I was making his six figures and leading a team. I had everything I wanted, but… , I was not satisfied at all.”
To the displeasure of those close to him, Mikel decided to quit his stable, well-paying job and begin traveling the world as a volunteer.
What was meant to be a one-year sabbatical quickly turned into three years. Along the way, Mikel discovered the benefits of psychological fitness therapy while in Australia.
Mikel works with at-risk Indigenous children in Australia and loves what he does so much that he decides to get a visa to start a psycho-fitness therapy company with an Australian friend. It was made.
After a visa failure, Mikel was forced to return to the United States, where he tried to get a job in a new career path, but ultimately returned to his career as a litigation psychologist.
Despite being groomed to take over a litigation consulting firm, Mikel said he fell into suicidal depression primarily due to unhappiness at work. After three and a half years with the company, Mikel left the company without a new job or career path in mind.
This career change was just the boost Mikel needed. Because that’s what inspired him to launch a psychological fitness therapy business focused on helping people overcome the issues they struggle with through brain and body training.
Mykel officially launched the first version of PSYFI He moved to New York in January 2017, but a client convinced him to move across the country to Summit County in 2021.
Since then, Mikel has used his background as an athlete to work with professional winter snowsports athletes, youth athletes, and the general public, engaging clients on a personal level.
“When I look back on my life, everything in my life pointed towards getting to this place,” Mikel said. “Everything I’ve done and experienced.”
In contrast to typical therapy, where patients often sit in front of a therapist, psychological fitness therapy allows people to get out, move, and work through what they’re facing.
“Moving your body makes you feel better,” Mikel says. “If she’s sedentary, she won’t be able to do that. Traditional therapy, sitting on the couch, literally leaves her unable to access three-quarters of the things that can actually change.”
Mikel, who works with organizations such as Building Hope, Team Summit and the Summit Foundation, said the community has embraced the therapy largely because it resonates with the community.
“People understand that stress is normal when you think about it,” Mikel said. “Statistics show that 90% of Americans spend 70% of their day in their amygdala (fight-or-flight system). Three-quarters of their day is spent basically going crazy. is.”
Through rock climbing, snowboarding, hiking, and other physical activities, Mikel has helped alleviate this stress and engage with clients to help people find relief from the mental health issues they may be facing.
“Therapy shouldn’t be about going to a therapist year after year after year,” Mikel says. “If we were talking about the same thing a year from now, you’d fire me. I let myself down because I let you down as a coach.”
Mikel has seen over 6,000 clients take advantage of the program since its inception and is looking forward to continuing to help people on their mental health journey.
“The goal is to continue to serve our community in order to get our mental health crisis under control,” Mikel said. “This training is really simple. I don’t promise anyone that it will be easy, because changing your life is not easy, but at the same time it is very easy. It is one step at a time.”
For more information about Mykel and PSYFI, visit PSYFI.co.