Our mission at Mind and Body of Vero is to nurture our clients at every step on their path to wellness. We are a premier health and wellness clinic taking the unique approach to bridging time-proven wisdom of Eastern healing arts with Western self-care practices. We strive to provide compassionate care from our professional staff to maximize your health and wellbeing.
Mind & Body of Vero is the area’s premier integrative medical spa taking the unique approach to bridging time-proven Eastern practices with advanced Western therapies to provide clients with tools to participate in their own self-care practices.
Neurologist Dr. S. James Shafer, founder, has more than 25 years of clinical patient care and actively participates in research in degenerative neurological diseases. Throughout his career, delivering the diagnoses of chronic neurological diseases inspired Dr. Shafer to seek out practices and a more “whole-istic” approach that supported a patient’s mental/emotional health while undergoing treatments that helped manage physical symptoms.
At Mind & Body of Vero, clients will find an atmosphere of quiet grace and soothing elegance. Our professional and experienced staff is focused on providing the highest level of care and a positive experience.
Our services include nurturing massage and bodywork, IV and IM vitamin and nutrient therapies, nutrient testing, as well as facials and skin care, healthy nails and feet care, the healing arts of meditation, mindfulness and gentle yoga practices, and nutritional counseling.
Meet Our Staff
Dr. S. James Shafer ~ Owner
Dr. S. James Shafer, a local resident since 1977, has practiced Adult Neurology in Vero Beach and the surrounding area since 1997. From 1997 to 2016 Dr. Shafer practiced in a multi-specialty group and in 2016 ventured in solo practice and formed Vero Beach Neurology and Research Institute. He is the founder and Medical Director of The Multiple Sclerosis Center of Vero Beach that was formed in 2001 and has cared for thousands of MS patients world-wide. While he treats all Neurological Disorders he is a Nationally recognized MS specialist. He, additionally, has expertise in Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke being the founding and current Medical Director of the Indian River Medical Center Stroke Program.
Professional activities include being the current Department Chairman of Neurology and Psychiatry at Indian River Medical Center, Medical Director of the IRMC Stroke Program, Secretary of the Indian River County Medical Society, Board Member and Physician Volunteer to the WE CARE indigent care program of Indian River County and Associate Professor of Neurology at Florida State University Fort Pierce, Florida campus.
Dr.Shafer is actively involved in Neurological Research of MS, Stroke, Epilepsy and Parkinson’s Disease and has completed and served as a Sub-Principal Investigator in over 50 National and International clinical research trials. Additionally, he is a Speaker Consultant and Advisory Board Consultant to several major pharmaceutical companies.
He and his wife Helen are active community supporters that serve and support many charitable organizations: The Education Foundation, Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC), Youth Sailing Foundation, Wheels and keels Foundation, Senior Resource Association (SRA), The Live Like Cole Foundation and others. Dr. and Mrs. Shafer are active supporters of The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum.
Dr. Shafer has been married to his wife Helen for 30 years and together they have raised 5 children. Oldest daughter Ann-Marie and middle son Robert are in Vero Beach. Their oldest son Art lives in Miami and their youngest son Danny lives in Denver. Joanne the youngest lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They have 4 grandchildren Allison and Charlotte in Vero Beach along with Hank and Audie in Denver.
Gigi Barragan ~ Spa Coordinator
Giselle Barragan, or Gigi as we call her here at the spa, was born and raised in Miami, FL. A sports enthusiast from a very young age, Gigi participated in swimming, equestrian, softball and soccer. In August 2021, she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Biology – Pre-Med and is currently on track for getting into medical school. Gigi aspires to be a surgeon one day. She has lived in South Florida her whole life and recently moved to this area in September 2021. In her free time, she enjoys trying new foods, volunteering, going to the beach, the gym, and spending time with friends and family. Her enthusiasm and passion for health and wellness make her a perfect fit as our spa coordinator here at Mind and Body of Vero.
Seth Williams is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina, achieving a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science in 2021. He has moved back to Vero Beach as he looks to get work and real-life experience before transitioning into a graduate program. Seth has a strong research-based foundation when it comes to health and wellness, with many of his opinions being formed from research papers, clinical trials, and labs he has personally worked in. He believes anyone can realize the healthy lifestyle they desire with the proper guidance, knowledge, and encouragement. Outside of work Seth enjoys listening to and learning about music, playing guitar, and reading.
Amber Crittenden ~ I.V. Nurse, RN
Amber was born in Cocoa Beach, Florida. She moved to the Treasure Coast in 2005 where she attended Indian River State College. Amber graduated the Paramedic Program in 2007, earned her AS Degree in 2010 for Emergency Medical Services and then in 2013 graduated with her AS degree in Nursing as an RN.
Amber initially worked as an EMT/Paramedic with All County Ambulance and later as a Flight Paramedic on a fixed wing Lear jet with American Jets traveling from the USA to foreign countries to transport ailing patients. She practiced as a Registered nurse (RN) at St. Lucie Medical Center in the Emergency Room for 6 years, before taking a position working in a Gastrointestinal/Surgical Center for the next three years in St. Lucie County. Working closely with a Doctor of Integrative Medicine in Stuart is where she learned a great deal about the importance of nutritional therapy. It was this experience that made Amber feel passionate about nursing, knowing that she was helping her patients improve their personal health in a natural way…by giving the body the vitamins and minerals it needs, it is better equipped to heal itself.
During Amber’s amazing journey in life, she met and married her husband, Billy, and soon had a son who is the love of their lives. Amber loves her family and has love left over for her animals as well. She enjoys many outdoor activities like hiking and camping, paddle boarding, boating, scuba diving, and snowboarding – but over and above all these things, she truly enjoys her time spent with family and friends, and the ability to help others enjoy their life and health as well.
Julie Damiani ~ Registered Nurse, RN
A Florida native, Julie was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. She attended Sandhills State College in Pinehurst, NC where she graduated with an Associate of Science in Nursing. Her nursing career has included the newborn nursery of Cape Fear Medical Center in Fayetteville, NC, the emergency room at Moore Regional Medical Center in Pinehurst, NC , and the emergency room at Indian River Medical Center. She has resided in Vero Beach since 1998.
Julie met the love of her life while working with him at the hospital and they have 2 sons. Balancing her family and love of nursing, Julie eventually became a school nurse and PreK teacher at Saint Edward’s school – a position she cherished for 14 years. Julie’s most prized accomplishment in her life is being a mother and having a loving relationship with her husband. She enjoys working out, vacationing, and spending time with her family and friends.
Julie has known Dr. Shafer and his wife for over 20 years, and was delighted when Dr. Shafer approached her about joining the spa as a nurse. Julie is intrigued by the body’s ability to make the aging process as graceful as possible. She is excited to help clients live their healthiest lives through preventative modalities for the mind and body.
Sarah B. Starr, RD ~ Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist
Sarah Starr is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist. A “Vero Beach native,” she grew up in an agricultural family with many happy memories of playing outside in the Florida sunshine, and now lives in Vero with her husband and three young children.
Sarah studied nutrition at Simmons University in Boston and completed her dietetic internship through the University of Delaware. She opened her private nutrition counseling practice back home in Vero soon after. In addition to private practice, Sarah has worked as a clinical dietitian at Lawnwood Hospital, a consultant dietitian for John’s Island & The Moorings Fitness Centers, Healthy Start, Head Start and the Senior Resource Association. She spent several fulfilling years working in a group counseling practice in nearby Indialantic, Florida, specializing in eating disorders. Sarah has also taught nutrition at Keiser University. She is currently pursuing her Eating Disorder Specialist certification through the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals.
Sarah loves getting to know her clients through their food stories and collaborating with other health professionals to provide clients with the best care possible. She provides medical nutrition therapy for chronic health conditions such as diabetes & cardiovascular disease, disordered eating, sports nutrition, pediatrics, prenatal & pregnancy nutrition, food allergies/intolerances and general wellness. Sarah’s clients can always expect a non-diet, weight neutral approach.
Sarah is excited to join the Mind & Body of Vero team, and we are honored to bring her expertise and compassion to our clients on their path to wellness.
Gisella Hemer ~ Esthetician, LE
Gisella Hemer, proudly born in Barranquilla Colombia, South America, arrived in Hollywood, FL in 1995 with the purpose of studying for a year and returning to her country. She attended the Autonomous University of the Caribbean where she graduated in Hospitality and Tourism Business Administration. Gisella worked as a travel agent in Miami, FL for 8 years. From 2005 to 2020 she worked for a Mexican Hotel Company with corporate offices in Doral, FL. Gisella always had a passion for skin care and in 2019 she began studying to become an Esthetician at the Florida Academy of Medical Aesthetician School in Pembroke Pines, FL. She also has her Medical Aesthetician certification to perform advanced treatments such as Microneedling, Dermaplaning and more. Gisella has worked as a leading esthetician at 3 spas in South Florida. Among her favorite hobbies are traveling, listening to music, and going to the beach. Gisella moved to Indian River County in 2021 with her husband Tomás and her daughter Giselle. Currently Gisella is very happy working at Mind and Body of Vero in Vero Beach, FL.
Amy Chisholm ~ Nail Technician
Amy has been doing nails for over 20 years, and joined the Mind & BOdy of Vero team in 2022. A Vero Beach native, Amy now lives in Fellsmere where she and her family have a hobby farm where she enjoys horseback riding, raising chickens and rabbits,and gardening. Amy also enjoys boating and fishing. She loves helping people feel good about their nails and helping them keep their hands and feet in a healthy condition. Amy says, “I love talking with clients. Work for me is social and fun.”
Michelle Hager ~ Massage Therapist, LMT
Born and raised in Kentucky, Michelle received her KY real estate license during the 90s, later realizing she had a passion for massage therapy and the human body. She attended Body Works School of Massage and received her massage therapy license in Newburg, Indiana. With over 20 years of experience, her specialties include deep tissue, stretching and Himalayan/Hot stones. Now a Florida resident for 3 years, in her free time she likes to go swimming, boating, hiking, and enjoys traveling with her family.
Yolanda Lipari ~ Massage Therapist, LT & Registered Nurse, RN
Yolanda studied Massage Therapy at the Swedish Institute in New York and has been practicing Massage Therapy for over 30 years. She enjoys providing detailed neck, shoulder and back massage for those most stressed areas of the body as part of her full body routine through deep tissue and/or Swedish massage. She also specializes in Lymphatic Drainage Therapy for full body detoxification or to reduce swelling & inflammation in specific areas of the body, through light stretching massage strokes along the lymph chains. She also provides 30 minute treatments to assist those needing sinus drainage.
Yolanda has been a Registered Nurse for over 10 years; graduating from Farmingdale State College, she began her career in a cardiac/stroke unit in New York. She then continued her nursing career as a visiting home health nurse. She loves providing education to help people improve their health in many aspects.
Elise Mahovuch ~ Yoga Instructor
Throughout my teens and twenties, yoga desperately tried to get my attention – a mention in a magazine article or a pose in an advertisement. Each time it came across I’d think, “What’s that yoga all about?” “I wonder what it’s like to do yoga.”
Curiosity won out and my first practice was in my living room with a VHS recording. I knew, in a moment, what a picture or the written word couldn’t communicate. I came home to myself and my heart said, “Ah-Ha! that’s yoga!”
Yoga is the synthesis of the wisdom of movement, presence of mind and grace through breath. It is the tool that allows me to experience the infinite through the finite. My teacher training is grounded in the heart-centered lineage of Kripalu Yoga, the yoga of compassion and a practice of meditation in motion.
On the teacher’s mat, from my heart to yours, I hope our shared experience is “Ahhh! That’s yoga!”