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Expert Profile - Noshene Ranjbar

Dr. Noshene Ranjbar

MD, Integrative Psychiatrist, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona

She additionally serves as Medical Director of  the Integrative Psychiatry Clinic at Banner-University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson as well as Training Director for the Integrative Psychiatry Fellowship.

Dr. Ranjbar is involved in advocacy for refugees seeking asylum to the United States. She serves as faculty at the Center for Mind-Body Medicine where she is involved in building health promotion programs within Native communities

Dr. Noshene Ranjbar’s Bio:

Born and raised in Tehran, Iran until immigrating to the US in adolescence, Dr. Ranjbar developed a passion for integrative medicine and a holistic view of healing from early on in her life. Arising out of the lived experiences of caring for her mother who suffered from autoimmune illness and cancer, fostering children with PTSD, working on American Indian Reservations and with refugee communities, and navigating her own health crisis, she developed interest and understanding in integrative and culturally appropriate approaches to mental health care. Trained at the University of Virginia, University of Arizona, and Harvard University, Dr. Ranjbar is triple board certified in General Psychiatry, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and Integrative Medicine. Dr. Ranjbar is currently Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona and serves as Medical Director of the Integrative Psychiatry Clinic at the Banner-University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson.

Dr. Ranjbar also serves on the faculty of both The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine. She continues to expand evidence-based work in integrative mental health and in working with underserved populations. Dr. Ranjbar has a strong interest and connection in serving American Indian communities as well as those seeking asylum.

What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your desire to pursue a career in psychiatry?

I suffered from anxiety and depression as a child and young adult, culminating in several years of intensive treatment in my 20s. Through an integrative approach to treatment which included conventional psychiatric treatment (medications, psychotherapy) as well as holistic tools (mind-body skills training, Chi Nei Tsang, acupuncture, creative arts, dance, internal family systems therapy, somatic experiencing therapy, supplements, and herbs), I was able to recover my health. As can often be the case, my life experience inspired me into my path of service in this world: psychiatry as a medical specialty. Eventually, I co-created a curriculum to train future psychiatrists to practice holistically to meet the needs of their patients from various cultures, backgrounds, and preferences.

How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? How, if at all did those events impact the way you view how our current system teaches us to treat patients with mental health challenges?

I felt tremendous shame and stigma around my mental health difficulties, especially as a high-achieving medical student and family medicine resident in a system that did not leave room for struggling physicians. Being from the Middle East, I had grown up in a culture that innately minimized mental health struggles. Even after coming to the US, I frequently encountered people and systems who marginalized struggle. In both overt and covert ways, the suggestion that I should just snap out of my emotional state was devastating. I found new life when I finally was able to access the right combination of treatments that helped me heal and regain balance. This experience made me an avid supporter of helping make positive changes in our healthcare system and larger sociocultural landscape. While mental illness can seem like an insurmountable challenge, I’m reminded of Rumi’s perspective: the wound can become the place where the light enters. To be able to make the shift needed to transform pain into an opportunity to learn, grow, and heal, requires many ingredients. I feel strongly that the integrative approach to mental health carries much greater capacity than the purely biomedical model. I now feel honored to be able to support other individuals and families, empowering them to find their voices, strengths, and a sense of meaning and purpose along the healing journey.

When and why did you decide to actually focus on practicing Integrative Psychiatry, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?

I see everything through the lens of process. There was no exact moment when a decision was made. It has been an evolution. I have always seen healing and medicine as holistic but was disappointed in medical training when I realized that’s not how most people are trained to practice. As soon as I had a chance, I completed fellowship through the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine and received board certification through the American Board of Integrative Medicine. I also completed certification through The Center for Mind-Body Medicine and began to do outreach work with American Indian communities, as well as in inner-city public schools. I now also help to bring these skills to working with asylum seekers in detention centers who have suffered unimaginable hardships and negative mental health consequences. Finally, I oversee professional training and clinical services in Integrative Psychiatry to extend the reach of this work.

What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?

Following a comprehensive integrative psychiatry evaluation, we utilize a vast array of tools to support individuals and families. Using a person-centered, motivational interviewing approach, we offer mind-body medicine skills (i.e. meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, neurofeedback, writing, movement, and creative arts); various forms of psychotherapies (Somatic Experiencing, Accelerated Resolution Therapy, EMDR, Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Group Therapy); supplements and herbs; lab testing to explore nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances; nutritional counseling; the use of broad-spectrum micronutrients; Ayurveda; medications; and more. Some of these services are available on-site at our clinic, and others are obtained through referrals to skilled practitioners in the community.

How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?

Most individuals and families are relieved, grateful, and respond positively to the holistic approach to treatment as they find it makes sense to them and helps reduce the side effects of medications by using the lowest doses and number of medications necessary. Given that we use a both/and approach to biomedical and integrative care, we are better equipped to meet people as and where they are. Individual beliefs and preferences carry a significant impact in health care outcomes and so we listen closely to maximize the potential for healing responses.

Contact info:

Organization:Banner-University Medicine Behavioral Health Clinic (Integrative Psychiatry Clinic)
Location: Tucson AZ, 85713

Children and Adolescents: 
Address: 2800 E. Ajo Way, Ste P1241 Tucson, AZ  85713
Tel: (520) 874-2783

Address:  2800 E. Ajo Way Ste P3300 Tucson, AZ 85713
Tel: (520) 874-7520

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