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Judith Gusky, LPC, Offers Innovative, Holistic Mental Health Service Model at Pittsburgh Integrative Mental Health
By Nancy Kennedy

We are complex, integrated beings, and each part of us interacts with the other parts, affecting the whole. That, in essence, is what holistic care means, and it is this philosophy that guides the mental health practice of Judith Gusky, LPC, at Pittsburgh Integrative Mental Health Services, LLC (PIMH). At PIMH, clients benefit from professional counseling and psychotherapy provided through a new mental health care model that incorporates selected complementary and alternative therapies such as Reiki, craniosacral therapy, therapeutic massage and more.

"Before starting PIMH, I had been a hospice volunteer and a hospice intern as I worked toward my counseling licensure. Through my work with grief and loss, and my own personal loss experiences, I became interested in the spiritual dimension of mental health. By that, I mean the spiritual nature of every individual. Most people who are grieving will tell you that they are having extraordinary, intuitive, synchronicitous experiences – and I wanted to help them use these experiences as a means of healing. This brought me to look at spiritual counseling as a necessary part of mental health care.

"People were coming to me for mental health counseling, and I was frequently referring them for additional holistic, alternative treatments because of somatic complaints: fatigue, chronic pain, addiction, obesity and undiagnosed health conditions. I was recommending and developing treatment plans for clients around alternative therapies that focused on the body. I began to realize that sometimes the body is the best way into the emotions. At some point these things converged – the spiritual, the mental health and the alternative body therapies. It evolved into my mind-body-spirit approach."

Gusky quotes Candace Pert, a neuroscientist and the author of Molecules of Emotion, who writes that the body is the unconscious mind. In order to find true emotional and spiritual healing, one has to consider the body. "To improve one's mental health, the unconscious repressed experiences need to be gently released from where they are being held in the body. This is why body treatments work so well with mental health treatment, and bring healing."

Gusky became a licensed professional counselor, returning to school in mid-life to take herself in a totally new career direction. She had encountered professionals in her own life whose expertise and caring had been helpful to her; she wanted to give back, to share her own capacity for giving. She chose to have her own practice rather than work for an agency because she wanted the freedom to design and implement her own unique approach.

There are many roads to the resolution of problems, both physical and mental, and ultimately to healing, she believes. "I think people need to understand that most often, emotional and mental health are not simply about the brain and chemical reactions, and cannot be treated adequately with pharmaceuticals alone.

The PIMH approach fills the void between traditional medicine, which emphasizes medication and psychotherapy, and the "wellness" industry, which tends to place too much emphasis on the physical body and on diet, exercise and stress relief. It is a truly integrative model, in which the client is expected to play an active role. "The client needs to have initiative and act as a self-advocate," says Gusky. "Our practice is not about the latest fad in the wellness industry; there is a solid scientific basis for approaching mental health care in this way."

PIMH treats people who are struggling with grief and loss, depression, relationship problems, anxiety, stress, chronic pain, seasonal affective disorder, chronic illness and other problems. With all services under one roof, PIMH is a highly convenient choice for clients. A team of seasoned, expert professionals offer counseling, massage and body work, meditation, mindfulness, reflexology, hypnotherapy, music therapy and craniosacral therapy among other treatments. "In bringing together the treatment team, I looked for people with healing abilities and a lot of experience. Hypnotherapy has been a great recent addition," says Gusky.

PIMH is located in Oakland. For more information, visit the web site www.pimhservices.com or call (412) 687-1234.

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