The Doctor

My name is Jerry Gelbart. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, went to college in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan and received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. I attended medical school at Ohio State University, and trained in Psychiatry at UCLA. I’ve been in private practice for 19 years, and I work with in-patients and out-patients in the San Francisco East Bay. I’m on the Executive Council for the Northern California Psychiatric Society, and past President of the East Bay Psychiatric Association

On another level, I’m an adult child of two Holocaust survivors. I might not have said that in the past, but it’s clear and obvious to me how much of a role that plays in my striving to reduce suffering and contribute to the future. I, and my brother (also now a therapist) grew up in a middle-class “Jewish-American” neighborhood full of stories of victimization, persecution, rescue, and shame. Guilt played a major role in my life, and also, as I later discovered, buried anger at God. I always have had a strong desire to reduce people’s hurting, and also to do something significant with my life to somehow compensate for my survival while all those other lives and potentials were lost.

I went to medical school planning to be a psychiatrist. However, I took a 4 year detour into surgical training and moonlighting in emergency rooms, which strengthened and matured aspects of my personality to be more practical, focused, cool, and to “do what you have to do.” During psychiatric residency, in addition to the top-quality psychopharmacology training I received, I pushed for comparing and contrasting which methods of psychotherapy worked and which didn’t. It became increasingly clear that the older types of psychoanalysis, and the more common “supportive” psychotherapies took forever to help people change.

While working with UCLA’s Eating Disorders Program, I learned to help people identify and understand what their bodies were telling them, emotionally and physiologically. I found some intensive short-term psychodynamic therapies to be somewhat “surgical” in getting in, and getting out, and helping people to be psychologically healthier. I’ve tried to dissect out which psychological symptoms can be repaired using which verbal technique, and how these techniques can be utilized to help people who are not psychologically ill to become psychologically stronger and more effective. Rather than a “Shrink” I prefer to consider myself an “Expander” of the mind.

I have helped many people suffering from psychological symptoms with medication, and firmly advocate biologic methods of treatment. I’ve had an even greater passion however, for teaching people how to understand their emotions, and how to put that information to use for them; to reduce problematic symptoms, find greater fulfillment in life, and minimize the need for medications.

More recently, my studies in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, and other experiences have allowed me to synthesize a type of roadmap for people who may be suffering psychologically, as well as for those who want to do more with what they have. Such a roadmap has to pay attention to all of the areas which are important for quality-of-life. These include our biology, our psychology, our social relationships, and our spirituality.

By developing more effective, active psychological techniques, I can teach people, sick and not-so-sick, to strengthen the psychological part of their life. In doing so, each of these other areas will become stronger, and they in turn will strengthen the individual psychologically even more.

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