Expert Profile - Dona Biswas
Dr. Dona Biswas
MD, Integrative Psychiatrist
Board Certified in Neurofeedback
Certified Integrative Mental Health Practitioner
Founder & Director of the Quantum Mental Health Academy– providing training to mental health professionals who are looking to integrate a range of evidence based modalities beyond medications or talk therapy in their practice
Author of the Quantum Psychiatrist– envisions a new paradigm within psychiatry
Dr. Dona Biswas Bio:
Dr Dona Biswas, MBBS, MD, FRANZCP, Board Certified in Neurofeedback, Certified Integrative Mental Health Practitioner
Dr. Dona Biswas specialized in Psychiatry in India, where she practiced for a number of years before moving to Australia. After gaining her Fellowship in Australia, she worked in several reputed public hospitals in Sydney, before moving into her own private practice. While in private practice, she realized the limited impact that conventional psychiatric treatments were having on her clients’ lives and began to train in several cutting-edge interventions to help her clients. She has gained expertise in modalities like neurofeedback, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), emotional freedom technique (EFT) and RESET therapy among others and integrates these modalities with conventional treatments in her practice. She is also an experienced energy healer, and a Reiki and Seichim Master. Her passion is to help people not only overcome their mental health struggles, but also encourage them to fulfill their untapped and unlimited potential. She works not only with clients with mental health struggles, but also with people who seek to improve their work performance, sense of wellbeing and find meaning in life.
She is the author of ‘The Quantum Psychiatrist: From Zero to Zen using evidence based solutions beyond medications and therapy’.
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?
When I was in high school, I developed a debilitating asthma which was so severe that I missed the better part of the school year in year 10. All I remember of that year is rushing to the doctor every other day to get nebulizers and steroids so that I could breathe. My father, frustrated by the many trips to the doctor, took me to a homeopath and his treatment made a huge difference to my health with a drastic reduction in asthmatic attacks. As a result, I entered medical school wanting to embrace a holistic perspective, but it all seemed too mechanistic to me. I was reluctant to see a person as an organ to be treated, much like a car that needed to be repaired. I wanted to know the person I treated, their beliefs, their dreams and their fears. I chose psychiatry out of all other specialties because it seemed to me the only discipline that looked at the whole person, rather than just an organ. I also believed that psychiatry was just in its infancy and there was great potential for progress in the coming decades, and I wanted to be at this frontier of knowledge.
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?
My personal experience has taught me to look beyond the obvious and explore holistic healing. Unfortunately, when I entered the field of Psychiatry, it was still largely mechanistic, with a simplistic biochemical hypothesis of mental illness. I began to simultaneously explore energy healing, mind-body medicine and my interest expanded into the fields of nutrition, neuromodulation, energy psychology and spirituality. I have learnt to keep an open mind and examine the evidence behind many novel therapies and techniques that are coming to the forefront now. I have learnt to listen to what clients want, and help them accordingly.
Our current system, based on an atheoretical classification, has been increasingly challenged, to the point that NIMH is no longer funding studies which rely on diagnoses solely based on DSM V. Classifying people into categories of mental illnesses trivializes their multidimensional nature and the myriad of experiences that represent who they are.
Fortunately, there has been an emergence of integrative psychiatry, which will soon be the way psychiatry is practiced everywhere. My vision is to address mental health challenges not as separate from the individual who is experiencing them, but to understand the root cause and address it on a multidimensional level, in order to achieve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing. Because there is only health.
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 began to formally practice Integrative Psychiatry towards the end of 2017, when I encountered a lot of clients with developmental trauma who came to me jaded by the revolving doors of the conventional mental health system. Our conventional system was thoroughly inadequate to not only diagnose these individuals, but also to address their distress. I trained in neurofeedback initially and started integrating it into my practice. Encouraged by the positive results, I moved into other areas of neuromodulation and then into nutrition, energy psychology and spirituality.
If one is truly motivated to help the clients they serve, it is inevitable that sooner or later they will feel limited within the conventional model of psychiatry and start exploring emerging paradigms of health and healing. This is not my journey alone, but the journey of many like minded professionals who are truly trying to push the frontiers of psychiatry. In my experience, resistance to the integrative model goes hand in hand with some vested interest in keeping alive the existing paradigm.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
I utilize what I call a multidimensional model of assessment and management for mental health issues. I use a variety of techniques including nutrition, genetics, QEEG, neuromodulation techniques like heart rate variability training, neurofeedback, AVE, photobiomodulation among others, as well as yoga, energy psychology and spiritual techniques including meditation. I do not believe in a one-size-fits-all model and work with a client’s preference, offering them choice and control.
How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
I find that people react to the integrative approach depending on where they are on their journey of healing. Many want a quick fix to their problem and are not keen to go into the root cause. On the other hand, many who have been in the conventional mental health system for decades and have lost hope, are relieved to find that these approaches can actually provide solutions to their problems. Similarly, doctors who have either have their own personal journey of mental illness or have struggled with clients who have not improved with conventional methods are more open to integrative practices. Socrates once said to a disciple “ When you want wisdom and insight as badly as you want to breathe, it is then you shall have it.”
People often ask me, “If these techniques are so effective, why aren’t they more commonplace?“ Embracing a new paradigm involves a steep learning curve and a complete revision of one’s existing beliefs, which is why it does take time for such a paradigm to become commonplace. However, I envisage that the next generation of psychiatrists will be trained in integrative methods right from the start and make this new paradigm ‘commonplace’.