This month we caught up with Village Center Psychiatrist Gil Citro, MD. Dr. Citro took some time to answer these questions about himself, his approach, and the importance of Mental Health.
Can you explain what holistic means to you?
Prior to joining the Village Center for Holistic Therapy, I had no background or training in holistic medicine or healing. I'm a psychiatrist who trained at a very biological program (Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic) and my practice is informed by medical evidence and data. However, I also was never satisfied with a model of psychiatry in which patients wound up with fewer choices and less control over the own well being because of evidence and data which can be overstated.
Like Victor and Kristy, who started the Center, my clinical background was in community mental health. I continue to believe in the mission of community mental health and work in community mental health settings, but at the time I found the Center I was seeking to diversify my practice. After talking with Victor, I felt that the philosophy of holistic wellness upon which the Center was founded was very compatible with the philosophy of evidence based medicine, when holistic is understood to mean looking at the whole picture, centered upon each patient's values, experiences and goals for the change they would like to see in their lives.
For some patients, medication is an important piece of the picture, and conservative use of medication, guided by medical evidence, can help them to stay well. Other patients may be more interested in alternative modalities, with which I may or may not be familiar, and for which there may be varying degrees of evidence. I'm interested in learning together with patients and working with each patient to help them assess the risks and benefits of any treatment they are considering and to reach decisions in which they feel confident.
What clients do you most enjoy working with?
When I was in medical school, I thought I wanted to be a neurologist, because the brain is complicated and I thought it would be a fascinating thing to study, However, when I did my clinical neurology rotation I found that in practice most of what neurologists do is prescribe medication for headaches and seizures, or diagnose irreversible or degenerative conditions from which there is little or no hope of recovery.
I had the opposite experience in psychiatry. I didn't think I would like it because I expected it to be vague, but what I found I enjoyed was that each patient was different, and that most patients had the opportunity to make big improvements in their lives.
So, the answer to the question is that I enjoy working with a wide variety of clients who are seeking to make positive changes in their lives, which is what drew me to psychiatry.
What do you like best about working at the Center?
So far working at the Center has been very rewarding. The timing of my start date fortuitously coincided with the semi-annual staff retreat, so I got to meet all the therapists and staff who work at different locations and at different times, and to appreciate the diversity of experiences and backgrounds they bring to the Center. I've found the Center to be a warm and welcoming environment conducive to wellness and healing.
I'm looking forward to continuing to work with all the staff in building a patient-centered psychiatry practice to complement the existing services offered by the Center.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Can you share what that means to you?
Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the United States in May since 1949. It's an opportunity to examine attitudes and ask what we can do to promote mental health and support those struggling with mental illness. Each year has a theme, and the theme for 2016 is "Life with Mental Illness," inviting individuals with mental illness to share their experience of living with mental illness.
Mental Health Awareness Month is only one of many opportunities to support the cause of mental health. Another great organization to be aware of, which is very active in the Pittsburgh area, is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI provides education, advocacy and resources to those with mental illness and those who seek to support them. One of their main awareness and fundraising events is the annual NAMI walk, which this year will be Sunday, October 2, 2016 at the Waterfront. Hope to see you there!