Factors of Dr. Jowdy's Approach:
Multidisciplinary and Integrative
My approach to counseling is both integrative and multidisciplinary in nature.
On the multidisciplinary level, my practice goes beyond theory and research in psychology. I also draw from the fields of sociology, philosophy, neuroscience, physical medicine, psychoneuroimmunology, mind–body medicine, hypnosis, sport science (exercise physiology, biomechanics, motor learning, kinesiology), religion, biofeedback, literature, theater, spiritual traditions, and music. This allows my clients to benefit from all that we know from many disciplines.
Within the practice of psychiatry, a doctor will ask about symptoms consistent with depression (i.e., sadness, crying, suicidal thoughts, fatigue, loss of appetite, low motivation, irritability, feelings of hopelessness) and provide medication to manage those symptoms. This approach has its place when helping people with severe mental health conditions based in neurochemical imbalances. Depending on the interaction between genetics and the environment, neurochemical imbalances are common. However, when the psychiatrist does not ask also about your dietary habits (what you are eating, when you eat, and even how you eat), sleep quality, digestion and bowel movements, and activity level (exercise), that doctor may be missing the most important factors contributing to your depression.
We know, based upon decades of research, that correct dietary habits and exercise can be as effective as medication when treating mild-to-moderate depression. Half of my background involves my training in exercise science. Thus, when we work together, you will find the first order of business for me is to learn about your eating habits, sleep, and activity level — and being active can be as simple as walking 30 minutes five times a week. That is not a luxury; it is a necessity, from both physical and emotional standpoints.
From an integrative perspective, I draw from various schools of psychology rather than limit my approach to a single method. I am influenced by schools of psychology dating from the 1920s all the way to the present day in order to consider all possibilities for folks challenged with personal, professional, interpersonal, or performance issues. My goal is to find what works for you.
To illustrate why I think this is so important, I’ll use the example of back pain. In conventional medicine, the approach is often reductionist in nature. If you say you have difficulty with back pain, the practitioner may quickly draw the conclusion the problem is simply some issue with your back — a recent injury, for example. On one hand, this makes sense. But from what we now know about back pain, the etiology (a.k.a. the cause) may include multiple factors, many of which a conventionally trained physician might not even consider. These possible factors include (but are not limited to) posture, eating habits, how a person sleeps and sits, stress, depression, gait (how a person walks), hypermobile joints in the pelvis as a result of laxity in the ligaments, being overweight, and lack of exercise. The conventional medical approach is to prescribe a course of anti-inflammatories (e.g., ibuprofen). If that doesn’t help, the person is sent for X-ray and/or MRI. If nothing shows up, he or she is written off and told nothing is wrong. It’s a terrifying way to practice health care, either physical or mental, given all that we now know about healing and helping people change.
The moral of the story is that now more than ever, you have a call to action when seeking mental or physical health care services. That call to action requires you be your own advocate and proactive in the treatment process. What does this mean in real time? It means you must learn as much as you can about your issue and what treatment seems most effective. It also means you must first interview providers before agreeing to work with someone. Don’t assume because a provider has advanced education that they are competent. Go to your appointments with a list of questions. It is fair game to ask any treatment provider, “What is your diagnosis? What is your plan? Why are we doing that?” If you are prescribed medication, review what you are taking with your pharmacist. In brief, taking this approach can be a matter of life and death. Should you need additional advice about these issues or your own situation, please feel free to get in touch. I welcome your questions.