Dr. Nelson received his Psychology degree from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was also inducted into the Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society, and his Medical Degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine on full scholarship from the U.S Air Force. He then went on to complete his internship and residency in Psychiatry at Albert Einstein – Long Island Jewish Medical Center/Hillside Hospital, one of the leading institutions in teaching both psychoanalytic practice and psycho-pharmacology.
Dr. Nelson has been practicing psychiatry for nearly 25 years. For most of that time, he has been practicing in Marin County, during which time he has served as the Department Chair of Psychiatry, Service Chief of Consultation and Emergency Psychiatry, and Medical Director of Outpatient Behavior Health Services at Marin General Hospital. He currently maintains a general office practice in psychiatry, seeing individuals, couples, and families with a wide variety of problems. His specialty has been largely focused on patients with severe and treatment resistant mood and anxiety disorders, usually complicated by history of trauma or problematic parental attachment in childhood. Much of his treatment approach is informed by his background and previous work experience.
Currently, Dr. Nelson is the Medical Director for La Cheim Behavioral Health Services in the East Bay, which he also helped found in 1996. He has been part of the medical staff and teaching faculty at San Francisco General Hospital. He helped establish the Brinton Psychiatric Homeless Project for the Psychiatric Foundation of Northern California, where he also served as Medical Director. He established psychiatric services at Catholic Charities of San Francisco and Marin and has served as Consulting Psychiatrist to several Bay Area clinical settings, including Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic, Glide Memorial Church Medical Clinic, Saint Anthony’s Medical Clinic, Mission Neighborhood Drop-In Center, Tenderloin Drop-In Center, and Caduceus Outreach Services. Dr. Nelson has also worked extensively in government programs, as an officer and as a civilian psychiatrist in the U.S. Air Force, in the VA Medical System, as Medical Director for the Sacramento County Jails, and with the City of Berkeley Mental Health Clinic.
Dr. Nelson has also been highly active in advocating for the rights and benefits of psychiatric patients and those with mental illness. He is the psychiatrist appointee to the California Mental Health Planning Council since 2010, and a past president of the Northern California Psychiatric Society. As a representative from California, Dr. Nelson advocates for national policy change through the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Nelson has also served as consultant to Marin NAMI and as Council Member and Chair of the Managed Care Committee for the California Psychiatric Association. Dr. Nelson has presented a number of talks on homelessness and eliminating barriers and improving access to care for those with mental illness. In addition, he is currently developing a guide to assist patients and families in advocating with their insurers to obtain mental health services.