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Kaniksu Health welcomes new psychiatry director

Staff Writer | February 23, 2024 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT —  Kaniksu Community Health recently hired a new director of psychiatry, Dr. Joseph Wassif, PhD, MSCP, to assist with the development of its psychiatry department.  

Wassif, a graduate of Penn State University, has worked in a variety of mental health settings over the past 18 years, including outpatient care, residential treatment, universities, and a Veterans Affairs medical center. After moving to Sandpoint in 2015, he began working at Bonner General Behavioral Health, introducing neuropsychological evaluations to the community.

In 2020, Wassif earned his postdoctoral master’s in psychopharmacology from Fairleigh Dickinson University and became one of Idaho’s first prescribing psychologists. He sits on the board of NAMI Far North, and is also a voting member of the Idaho Psychological Association’s subcommittee on prescribing psychology, KCH officials said. 

“He is committed to being present for each patient and making their needs a priority,” KCH officials said. “He takes pride in advocating for patient needs and prefers to take a team approach, utilizing a shared decision-making model with his patients.”

Wassif believes that mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being and must be evaluated through a holistic lens. In his view, mental health treatment involves multiple tools, such as psychiatry and psychotherapy, to help remove barriers to personal growth and optimal health.

“In a time where we are seeing mental health agencies close at an alarming rate, I chose to join Kaniksu because of the rare opportunity of an institution in a position to expand services,” Wassif said. “After spending a majority of my professional career helping address the needs of our community, one patient at a time, I will now be in a position to broaden my scope as director of psychiatry by strengthening existing resources, developing new programming, and forming new partnerships in North Idaho.”