Judy Tsafrir, M.D., specializes in Holistic Adult and Child Psychiatry. She explains her work more in detail to MysticMag.
Dr Tsafrir, you offer such a multitude of services. What can you tell us about your journey that led you to where you are today?
For over twenty years, I practiced as a fairly conventional psychoanalyst and my practice was primarily psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. In 2005 I experienced a series of profound personal losses which prompted me to reach for the stars for understanding of what was going on in my life, and I consulted an astrologer for the first time. I was so moved and astonished that an utter stranger could see and understand me so deeply that I returned a number of times over the next couple of years to consult with her and to look at the birth charts of important people in my life. I was so intrigued and impressed that eventually I resolved to learn astrology myself. I apprenticed to two different well known teachers.
The study of astrology opened me up spiritually and I began investigating and then adding in a very organic way all sorts of holistic modalities to the work I had been doing- I studied with a Russian neurologist who was a specialist in the relationship between the gut and the brain, which is essentially the study of immunity. I studied with a biochemist who uses nutrients to treat psychiatric conditions, and then through falling ill myself with mold toxicity, I was led to learn about Environmentally Acquired Illnesses. I trained in a modality called ART, Accelerated Resolution Therapy, an eye movement therapy for treating trauma, and explored Shamanism, Kundalini yoga, and most recently, Body Intuitive, an energy healing modality that combines Chinese Medicine with Western Medicine. My most recent exploration has been into Gemmo therapy, a type of herbal medicine using elixirs made from the embryonic cells of plants.
I am drawn to consideration and inclusion of disparate contrasting elements in my understanding of people and situations. I like to keep the past and the present, the traditional and innovative, the ordinary and the sacred, the heart, mind, body and soul all present when I try to understand a person and figure out how to help. I incorporate all of these modalities into my practice with patients – a combination of Eastern and Western medicine for holistic wellbeing. All of this takes place in the context of the psychotherapeutic relationship and psychoanalytic talk therapy still plays a central role in my approach. Attachment provides the central context in which my patients and I work together to heal them, and clear the way for further psycho/spiritual development.
What triggered the shift from working within a traditional medical/psychiatric paradigm to the more holistic approach?
As I mentioned, I had some personal losses which resulted in an increased spiritualization of my life. The conventional model no longer seemed adequate.
In a nutshell, how would you describe ‘holistic adult and child psychiatry’?
I see a person as a whole – body, mind, heart spirit – that can all be afflicted in various ways, or be out of balance. My aim is to restore a person to wholeness and help them align with their “heavenly mandate”- why they incarnated here on Earth at this time – to help them to align with their soul’s purpose. My intention is to help people most fully express what they came here to do, to make the contribution which they were born to make. This is more important than ever at this time of breakdown on the planet.
What role does spirituality play in your practice?
It plays a big role. Often people who come to see me have concerns which would be recognized as a spiritual longing and sometimes spiritual awakening – they feel they have lost their way or that they are going through something that they do not understand. They know that I am an astrologer in addition to my skills as a psychiatrist. They believe that I may understand what they are experiencing through a spiritual lens, rather than diagnosing them with a psychiatric condition, or judging them to be delusional if they are having non-ordinary experiences.
Anyone who is feeling that their existence doesn’t matter to them or anyone else, who is in toxic relationships, who feels they have no meaning or purpose, who feels that they don’t belong to any loving community, has great difficulty healing the body. Those are all stressful psycho spiritual conditions which result in inflammation. It is important to include the psycho spiritual for healing to be possible.
What exactly is Environmentally Acquired Illnesses (EAI) or mold toxins and how prevalent is this?
It is a very common and unrecognized cause of medical and psychiatric illness. Conventionally trained experts may even deny that it exists. I am not referring to a mold allergy. This is mold toxicity. Mold grows in damp and water damaged buildings. Five people can live in a house where there is toxic mold and it is possible that only one of the five will get sick. Conventional MD’s may point to this and say that if the house were toxic, then everyone would get sick. This is not the case. That person who falls ill does so because they are unable to detoxify because their biochemical makeup renders them unable to deal with the mold toxins. Mold toxins disable the immune system which then leads to chronic systemic inflammation in the body and brain. These patients will display a whole variety of strange symptoms which can affect every organ system. It is often mediated by mast cells, a white cell in the body that plays a very important role in our immune function, but if they are deregulated can cause symptoms throughout the body.
Often when conventional MD’s run tests and the results are all normal, and they do not understand why the patient is so severely symptomatic, they by default characterize the condition as psychosomatic, and will essentially conclude that it’s “all in their head” and send their patient to a psychiatrist. This adds insult to injury because it’s very invalidating. And most unfortunately, there actually is an underlying physiological cause of their suffering that could be treated if properly diagnosed. Many of my patients suffer from mold toxicity and mast cell activation disorder – I am witness to this all the time.
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