Integrative Psychiatry

Integrative Psychiatry

An interview with Lana Benedek, MD, integrative psychiatrist, on how psychiatry can be practiced differently (not just prescribing medication). Curt and Katie talk with Lana about the importance of focusing on the whole person and incorporating lifestyle changes and commonsense health practices like diet, exercise, sleep and mindfulness in the quest for sustained wellness.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. We are human beings who can now present ourselves as whole people, with authenticity, purpose, and connection. Especially now, when therapists must develop a personal brand to market their practices.

To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

Interview with Lana Benedek, MD

Lana Benedek, MD, is an integrative psychiatrist, consultant and teacher who has worked for more than 15 years with adolescents and adults, helping them to resolve issues of anxiety, depression and addiction. Throughout her career, Lana has been keenly interested in empowering individuals to create long-term healing beyond prescription medication and give them the tools to create lasting well-being.  To that end, she has practiced mindfulness meditation and yoga for more than a decade, using it as a foundation for her own life and her approach to treatment. She currently facilitates mindfulness-based therapy groups for individuals with anxiety, depression and addiction throughout Los Angeles, including at the Mind Body Tree House and Resolutions Treatment Center.  Additionally, she is on the clinical faculty of the University of Southern California (USC) where she teaches psychiatry trainees about mindfulness and self-care to reduce burnout and stress. Early in her medical career, Lana became interested in the marriage of medicine and other modalities of healing.  During medical school while working on the pediatric ward of Howard Hospital in remote Zimbabwe, Lana became attuned to our society’s dependence on external medical treatments, which led her to begin practicing yoga and meditation.  Later working with clients in the faculty practice, at USC and within the student health center at University of California at Los Angeles, she saw the benefits of incorporating mindfulness-based practices within her therapy.

You can learn more about Lana Benedek, MD at

In this episode we talk about:

  • What Integrative Psychiatry is and what it is not
  • The importance of mind, body, and community
  • Why to focus on root causes and not symptoms
  • How psychiatry can actually focus on least invasive methods, rather than going straight to medication
  • Strengths, individuals’ ability to heal themselves
  • Integrating traditional and alternative methods for healing
  • Walking your talk as a practitioner
  • The goal of sustained wellness, rather than symptom remission
  • Mindfulness and mindfulness-based therapies
  • How the system has evolved to having psychiatrists being the prescribers
  • Risks and benefits of medication
  • How medicine cannot address the underlying causes of symptoms
  • The risk of dependence and withdrawal
  • The importance of the scientific rigor in choosing interventions
  • When clinical experience and values-based medicine are needed
  • The importance of an anti-inflammatory diet: vegetables, good fats, legumes, lean proteins, nuts and seeds, whole grains
  • How your diet can make you depressed
  • Exercise is just as good as an antidepressant for your mood
  • The importance of sleep
  • The commonsense ways to help yourself feel better
  • How to collaborate with an integrative psychiatrist
  • Promoting Mental Wellness
  • Looking at strengths and the whole person, rather than symptoms within a rigid treatment framework
  • Psychoeducation on the causes of your mental health concerns

Our Generous Sponsor:

Thanks again to our sponsor, Ben Caldwell Labs!

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Relevant Resources:

We’ve pulled together any resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Dr. Lana Benedek’s Website

Her articles on the Building Blocks of Good Mental Health

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger MD (Author), Gene Stone (Author)

Lana Benedek’s contact information:; 310-853-0735

The Call for Speakers for Therapy Reimagined 2019

The Modern Therapists Group on Facebook

Therapy Reimagined 2019

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is a Board Member at Large for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more about Curt at

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant. As a helping professional for two decades, she’s navigated the ups and downs of our unique line of work. She’s run her own solo therapy practice, designed innovative clinical programs, built and managed large, thriving teams of service providers, and consulted hundreds of helping professionals on how to build meaningful AND sustainable practices. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more about Katie at

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:


Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

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