M.D., University of Pittsburgh, 1985
- Residency in Adult Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), 1989
- Board-certified in Psychiatry since 1991
Following residency, I did a two-year research fellowship at UCSF. I authored several peer-reviewed journal articles and other publications on psychotherapy; in particular, on the "flow state" that allows an empathic connection. Several of these studies were the first to apply a highly technical type of data analysis (nonlinear dynamical modeling, an aspect of "chaos theory") in the setting of psychotherapy.
My research background shapes my work with patients in a number of ways. I learned practical lessons: Pay close attention to the "data" the words said, and the words not said. Don't jump to conclusions. Collaborate, work as a team.
I also learned that human connection (e.g., empathy) and hard data are compatible and even complementary. The combination gives precision to the former and heart to the latter. To me, this is the essence of psychiatry: to help person-to-person, using comprehensive knowledge... from cell science to personal psychology, all the way to social issues that affect all of us.
Our research group studied traditional, open-ended psychotherapy. Yet psychiatry as a field has moved away from psychotherapy (toward medication), and many non-MD therapists now focus on time-limited or cognitive psychotherapies. So why offer this traditional treatment?
The simple answer is that nothing has replaced it. Medication cannot address self-destructive patterns or poor self-esteem. Cognitive therapy (e.g., CBT) improves mood symptoms but does not address long-term personality issues or unconscious patterns of dysfunction. In contrast, traditional psychotherapy helps relieve the very problems that many people struggle with: long term patterns of self-defeating attitudes and behavior that "make no sense" yet are hard to shake without help. It's an approach that sees you as an individual, far more than merely a member of a generic category such as "depressed." It's the ultimate in customized treatment.
My other professional activities include:
I am a member of two standing committees at CPMC. As a member of the Ethics Committee, I attend a monthly meeting to discuss patient-care ethics at the hospital, and occasionally participate in ethics consultations on inpatients.
As chair of the Continuing Medical Education (CME) Committee at CPMC, I oversee all continuing education for physicians at the medical center. The Committee reviews educational programs to maintain compliance with state and national standards of quality, and assures freedom from commercial and other sources of bias. To maintain licensure, all physicians in California must complete 25 hours of approved CME each year.
I've taught psychiatry ever since I was a resident myself. From 1996 to 2007 in addition to seeing private patients I served as Medical Director of the CPMC Mental Health Clinic, a sliding-scale clinic where psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are trained. I taught outpatient evaluation, and helped in many crisis situations. I currently lead two formal seminars at CPMC: a half-year weekly course in dynamic psychotherapy every year, and a two-month seminar on psychiatric ethics every other year. I also offer individual psychotherapy supervision for one or two psychiatry residents each year. "Supervision" is traditional one-on-one case based learning, a crucial step toward becoming a competent therapist.
Consultant to the California State Bar
Occasionally I perform psychiatric assessments for the Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) of the California State Bar. LAP is a diversion program for attorneys impaired by emotional or substance abuse issues. I've seen a number of attorneys through this program, both for assessment and sometimes follow-on treatment.
Since October 2008, I've shared psychiatric concepts and reflections by blogging for the general public. Reidbord's Reflections contains short essays on a variety of psychiatric topics. Sacramento Street Psychiatry is a blog on the Psychology Today website where some of the pieces on Reidbord's Reflections — ones with a more pop-psychology flavor — are reposted to a wider readership. I'm gratified that my blogs are read all across the U.S. and overseas.