Although I see many patients for medication management only, I find the combination of psychotherapy and judicious medication treatment to be most beneficial. That offers the chance to get to know patients in greater depth and to clarify diagnostic and treatment decisions. I also try to stay in contact with a patient’s therapist if he or she is seeing me only for medication management.
In my last two years of psychiatric residency, I focused on psychotherapy training, including psychodynamic (insight-oriented) and cognitive behavioral therapy. During the past decade I have become intrigued by the overlap of psychotherapy and mindfulness principles and try to incorporate mindfulness/meditation strategies into my practice, particularly if a patient is interested. Adding mindfulness techniques has become another avenue to enhance self-awareness and self-knowledge — as psychotherapy does — so that a person can better see the psychological traps we can fall into from childhood conditioning, trauma or genetic predispositions. It has been rewarding to see the growth in self-confidence and reduction in stress and interpersonal conflict when patients work toward their goals and overcome debilitating depressive or anxiety symptoms.
Because our office is located a block from the College of Charleston, about a third of my patients have been college students. It has been a pleasure to help them through an often-difficult developmental stage using psychotherapy, medication management or a combination of both.
Sally W. Smith, M.D.