58 minutes | Aug 5, 2019

EP8: Authentic Relationship in Therapy with Eric Plakun, MD, of Austen Riggs Center

A conversation with Dr. Eric Plakun. Dr. Plakun, the medical director and CEO of Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Austen Riggs just celebrated its 100th year! Austen Riggs is a therapeutic community, open psychiatric hospital, and center for education and research, promoting resilience and self-direction in adults with complex psychiatric problems. Dr. Plakun graduated from Hofstra University and received an MD from the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons and completed his psychiatry residency at Dartmouth and a Fellowship in Psychoanalytic Studies at Austen Riggs. Dr. Plakun is a board-certified psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, researcher, and forensic psychiatrist. He is the editor and author of close to fifty articles and book chapters on the diagnosis, treatment, longitudinal course, and outcome of patients with borderline personality disorder and treatment-resistant disorders. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and on their Board of Directors as well. He is the founding leader of the APA’s Psychotherapy Caucus. In 2003, Eric was selected by the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society as their “Outstanding Psychiatrist in Clinical Psychiatry.” Most recently he has also offered compelling testimony in a major class-action suit that may finally begin forcing medical insurance companies to expand their coverage of mental health treatments. During this hour-long conversation, Virgil speaks with Eric about how he came to this work and will hear his thoughts on effective mental health treatment, the role of environmentally impacted genes on one’s mental health, and where he sees the field of mental health treatment headed. Three main talking points: Point one: Effective treatment must be more than just crisis management and stabilization. A quick fix is not enough to help people truly recover from mental illness. We will review changes in the science, law and social policy with a focus on striving to achieve parity for health care for those suffering from mental illness. Point two: Environmentally impacted genetics and integrative mental health care. We are moving more toward bio/psycho/social psychiatry which addresses the impact on our genes of environmental factors, especially adverse childhood experiences. Psychotherapy in particular addresses the sense of loss that someone may experience from trauma and other negative social determinants. Point three: Organizational leadership. Austen Riggs is 100 and moving more strongly than ever into a role of leadership, such as is found in an upcoming conference with an array of first-class mental health thought leaders. Austen Riggs is leading the way in calling for broad, not reductionist, mental health care as well as in calling for broader economic access by pushing to achieve parity.
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