Press & Publicity


A professional life devoted to helping people


A pastoral psychotherapist who serves on the adjunct faculty of the HCH Healthcare System as an instructor for clinical pastoral education, the Rev. Sam Sewell is also president of the Theological Center in Naples and a member of Mensa and the Sigma Delta Chi Honor Society. A frequent guest on my show, he also provides commentary on mental health and religious issues to several media outlets.  Read on...

Natural health advocates speak out about best medicine
By Dayna Harpster • • August 24, 2010 

It’s not a term that flows trippingly off the tongue: orthomolecular pharmacology. But its meaning has had tongues wagging for years. It has fed an entrenched disagreement about the best way to prevent illness and treat disease.

On one side of the table is the traditional medical establishment, where the muscle and money is behind prescription drugs.

On the other are the herbalists and natural health practitioners, where less money and muscle are behind vitamin supplements and organic foods.

The latter’s position is clear in the documentary “Food Matters,” shown recently by Sam and Bunny Sewell, directors of Best Self USA, a holistic mental health counseling and training facility in North Naples.

For more on Sam Sewell’s story, go to 

Its premise is a statement by Hippocrates, considered the founding father of modern medicine: “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

The film contends that reliable studies show large doses of vitamin C have cured cancer, that megadoses of niacin have cured depression — in Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson, among others — and that two handfuls of cashews are as mood-elevating as a standard dose of Prozac.

But the problem starts well before a person shows symptoms of illness. Charlotte Gerson, the daughter of Max Gerson, the German doctor who claimed an ability to cure cancer through diet, founded an institute in his name. It advocates a diet grown in nutrient-rich soil, which Gerson said is nearly nonexistent at most farms.

“Soil requires 52 minerals to grow (nutritious food),” Gerson says in the film. But many of those substances are missing. “So farmers turn to chemical compounds for solutions, like pesticides and growth stimulants.” Then we cook the food, which kills the beneficial enzymes.

The result is chronic malnutrition. And malnutrition leaves us susceptible to disease. Film experts wonder aloud why serious diseases are treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, but not nutrition.

The problem is that doctors’ main source of information about drugs comes from the highly profitable pharmaceutical companies, said Fort Myers herbalist and natural health practitioner Jim Occhiogrosso. They’re the first to point out that the Food & Drug Administration does not regulate vitamin supplements, so the amounts of substances in the supplements can vary widely.

That’s true, said Occhiogrosso, and taking supplements from an unknown or unresearched source can be dangerous. But reputable health practitioners and supplement manufacturers do exist.

He uses sites such as and to stay on top of any negative reports. He passes those along on his Web site,

Sam Sewell publicizes similar findings in his blog,

Both have noticed a growing interest in non-pharmaceutical approaches to health and healing in the past few years.

“But the generation that grew up with the M.D. as a god, oh my gosh are their minds closed,” Sewell said

Middle-age and younger people are beginning to realize the value of supplements, said Occhiogrosso. They’re generally cheaper than drugs and have fewer side effects, he said.

“People will watch TV and see an ad for a new drug that says ‘Run to your doctor and ask about it.’ And then the next says, ‘If you were harmed by it, call 1-800-BAD-DRUG.”

Among arguments in the documentary “Food Matters” are these reasons to take vitamins and eat raw, organic food:

• Most food we buy is at least a week old and therefore has lost considerable nutritional value, said Dr. Victor Zeines, a holistic dentist and nutritionist in New York.

• The food we eat is full of “pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and larvacides,” said David Wolfe, an expert on raw foods and superfoods.

• The body reacts to cooked food as if it is a toxin, and reacts by attacking it with white blood cells, said Wolfe.

• 26 percent of hospitalized patients are more malnourished when they go home than when they arrived, said Dr. Ian Brighthope, President of the Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine.

• Although statistics from the government and advocacy groups might seem to show that the cancer death rate has declined over the past few decades, the difference is merely in the definition of survival. Counting survivors as those who live for five years after diagnosis does not take into account those who die from cancer more than five years later. That seems to suggest that the $200-billion-a-year cancer treatment industry isn’t doing much good, said Charlotte Gerson of the Gerson Institute.

See Video Here:


Local pair launches Internet counseling service


 A local husband-and-wife mental health therapy team has gone high tech, launching an Internet counseling service. The Revs. Sam and Bunny Sewell, pastoral counselors and co-directors of the Best Self Clinic in North Naples, have long used the Internet as a way to stay in touch with their seasonal clients over the summer. Now, the pair has started a Web site where they hope to reach people from around the globe. Internet counseling is a fairly new concept. The Sewells say it offers clients convenience and anonymity. Actual counseling sessions are done over the telephone, and run for one hour. Between sessions, the Sewells are in touch with their clients via e-mail, and clients have access to Internet-based interactive workshop exercises. "If people want to e-mail us at 2 a.m. in their pajamas, they can," Bunny Sewell said. "It's just really convenient." The Sewells also can refer Internet clients to any of a dozen pastoral therapists who specialize in specific areas of treatment and have completed the Best Self clinic's three-year training program. The Sewells say they charge a rate that is about average for counseling services, around $100 per hour. The couple acknowledges that Internet counseling has limitations. The therapist and client can't see each other, and the therapist doesn't have access to visual cues like body language. "The difference is that we don't get the facial expressions, the body language that you get when you are talking face-to-face," Sam Sewell said. "We tend to rely much more on the voice. It is actually amazing how much (insight) you can get from listening to a voice carefully." The Sewells acknowledge that not all problems are suited to treatment over the Internet. They believe the Internet is most effective when cognitive and/or behavioral therapy is the method of treatment. Behavioral therapy helps the client learn to change a behavior. Cognitive therapy helps the client gain control over their thoughts. The two forms of therapy are often used together. "This isn't the type of connection that you'd want to have for Freudian treatment, for example," Sam Sewell said. Jon Brunner, director of counseling services at Florida Gulf Coast University, said Internet counseling is a sign of the times. "People relate differently to the world today," he said. "People are very accustomed to the e-mail format, even though when you are using e-mail you may be losing some of the spontaneity that you have in a conversation with a person." Like the Sewells, Brunner believes counseling over the Internet isn't the solution for all mental health issues. "I believe something like this is best suited to situations that are not clinically difficult to address," he said. The Sewells' Web site is  The site has been totally revamped to accommodate the Computer Assisted Psychotherapy offerings on the site. You can review the services available by clicking on the Services tab of the navigation bar.

"Fortunately for (the client), he was treated by a pair of upbeat therapists who helped him turn his life around and did so on a virtual dime."
-Ft. Myers News Press (9/15/92) article about the Best Self Clinic.

"The Sewells believe anybody could benefit from the skills they teach. It is too bad that some people wait until they find themselves in the middle of a crisis to show up at their door."
-Ft. Myers News Press.