OYM Deborah Simkin | Emotional Connections


Creating emotional connections with your patients is one of the most important things in medicine. Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D, sits with Dr. Deborah R. Simkin, a board-certified Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist who practices Functional or Integrative Psychiatry and Sports Psychiatry. Dr. Deborah talks about how emotionally connecting with your patients inspires them to change their lives for the better. It doesn’t only go one way because you also learn from them. And you enrich your life in the process. If you don’t stay open to human relationships, you’re closing a world of growth you could’ve reached otherwise. But how can you get into your best state of mind so you can emotionally connect with others? Listen to this episode to learn more.

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Why Emotional Connections Are Important In Medicine With Dr. Deborah Simkin

Dr. Deborah Simkin MD, is a board-certified Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist who practices Functional or Integrative Psychiatry and Sports Psychiatry. She is a Distinguished Fellow with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and a Diplomat of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. She is certified in Functional Medicine by The Institute of Functional Medicine and board-certified in Neurofeedback by the Biofeedback International Certification Alliance.

Dr. Simkin, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us here.

Thank you. I appreciate it.

I was hoping you could start us off by telling us how you got into the work you do and what drives your passion for it.

I have to go back to when I was growing up. We lived in a 900-square foot house with six kids. My dad only had an eighth-grade education but he used to have holes in the bottom of his shoes with newspapers to make sure that he could provide for us. The one thing my father was able to do was to connect with people humanly. When all of us grew up, he went and donated his time to the Lions Organization in Louisiana. He raised more money than any other Lions Organization that I knew of for crippled children and the Eye Foundation.

He always said, “You always get more when you give so don’t expect anything in return. It will always be there.” Now that I look back on my life, I realize he inspired me in many more ways than I thought. I was not doing well in school. In high school, I was told by my counselor to my face these words, “You’re too stupid to go to college. If you do go, you only should go part-time because you will never make it.” I believed her.

Thank God I had dance. I was a professional ballet dancer for a while. I had that to give me some sense of identity. When I was about 27, I realized I had five different learning disorders I wasn’t aware of. I was happy because that meant I’m not stupid. There’s a reason for this. I just didn’t know what it was to overcome it. It might take me 1.5 hours to do something that someone else would take 30 minutes to do but I could do it.

My undergrad grades were only 2.49 and my grad grades went up to 4.0. I went to med school when I was 32, got the Chancellor’s Award and ended up being 1 of 3 people at Harvard in Child Psychiatry. I couldn’t believe it. My experiences there were so incredible. I was training as an adult psychiatrist, which I fell into not because of choice. We got pregnant and didn’t think we could be pregnant. I was going into ENT surgery and decided that I will do something else.

You always get more when you give, so don’t expect anything in return.

I had set up an addiction program from my dean while in med school. The whole time I was there, I was working with analysts. I love to teach. In the entire four years, I was told, “You’re not doing it right. You’ve got to sit there and do this.” How does that make you feel? That is not me. It wasn’t until I ran into a child psychiatrist that she said, “You need to get the heck out of Dodge. You need to go to Yale and Harvard.”

I said, “Who are you talking to?” I went up and all the child residencies were filled at Harvard, so I was going to do addictions. What happened was the head of the hospital came in and said, “How about we give you a double residency?” It’s the same thing. I look behind me, wondering what’s going on. I had done so many things in med school to help my dean that he thought using that knowledge with Child Psychiatry would be a way to go.

I ended up at Harvard. When you asked me about my passion, which is the most important thing for all of us to be, it’s being a good mentor. While I was there, Dr. Onesti, who I adored, every time I went into his office, I would apologize first and say, “I know I did this wrong but I taught this, and this is what I did.” The second time I came in, he stood there and listened. The third time, he met me at the door and said, “Deb, the next time you come in and apologize for a gift in Child Psychiatry, don’t come back.”

I paused, looked at him and said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Don’t you understand? Being a good mentor means you have to feel confident in yourself and comfortable with who you are so you can find the gifts in the people you’re mentoring. In my opinion, the people you were training with before felt so inadequate with what you did well that they projected it onto you.” My answer to that was, “I love you, Dr. Onesti.”

After that, one of my mentors was Charlie Popper, who was the former head of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. I walked out of my residency and headed up the Addiction Committee for the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Charlie was starting to change his tune and look at why or where we are when we treat patients, and what got them there.

He started looking at nutrition and broad-spectrum micronutrients. He and several other people at the academy, Wayne Batzer and Scott Shannon, got permission to start the Committee for Complementary Integrative Medicine. They asked me to come on board. It was at that moment that I realized what I was missing. I was missing that human connection. Everything at Harvard initially was a lot of psychopharma and medication. I thought, “This doesn’t feel comfortable.”

How long ago did they ask you to come on board for that?

OYM Deborah Simkin | Emotional Connections

Emotional Connections: Mother Teresa learned to get into the best state of mind through prayer and meditation to connect with her patients emotionally.


I was the head of the Addiction Committee from ’91 to 2000. They started the Complementary Integrative Medicine Committee and asked me to move in with them around 2010. I’m not sure but either way, I made this transition. I was still doing a lot with addictions and I was teaching. Scott was a member of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. He convinced me to take the board, and I did.

There were a lot of things I had never come in contact with. There were a lot of names of plants I couldn’t understand. I thought I would fail the exam because they use all the generic names and I had memorized the brand names, but I passed. A remarkable thing happened. I decided to go back to Harvard to train with a PhD psychologist, who’s also a Buddhist monk, who trains a lot of our Olympic athletes. He uses a lot of meditation.

While I was there, I got inspired by this whole idea that you have to be in a good state of mind to do your best work. You have to be able to feel at peace with yourself and find your spiritual self to be at your best. That’s the philosophy he would teach to the Olympic athletes. Your body may be great but if your mind is not in the right state of mind, what you do when you compete will not come forward.

While I was there doing that, I called my son. He was at the Air Force Academy. His major was International Studies with a minor in Japanese. I was telling him about this. He said, “Mom, the Air Force has been sending me to Japan for the last years to train with the Buddhist monks.” I was shocked. In his last year at the academy, he was jumping out of planes. We bought him a parachute because we didn’t want him to die.

Unbeknownst to us, he told the Air Force he couldn’t jump out of planes anymore. He’s going to be a pilot. He sold his parachute and came home without any warning after graduation and said, “I have three tickets to Japan.” He took us to Koyasan which has a lot of Buddhist temples. We went to a ryokan where you put on the robes and slippers. He said, “When the gong goes off tomorrow, I’ve been down several times. You and dad go down and experience it,” so we did.

I thought I was going to see them start by breathing because I was taught, “Focus on your breathing, not so much to relax but if a thought pops in your head or you hear a noise, focus immediately back on breathing.” You’re training your mind not to get distracted so that you can get benefit from this meditation. Instead of seeing them breathe, they were chanting. I realized, “That’s what they’re using for their attention focus.”

When it was over, I asked if I could ask a question and the chief monk came out. I said, “I’m not a very smart American. All I see are the statues in the United States with big bellies. They call them Buddhas.” He started to laugh because none of them was on point. I said, “What is a Buddha?” To my surprise, he said, “Do you know who Mother Teresa is?” I said, “Yeah, but what does that have to do with what we’re talking about?” He said, “No, tell me what you know.” I said, “She was a nun in India and always working in dangerous areas. Her life was always being threatened.” He said, “That’s the one.”

Being a good mentor means you have to feel confident in yourself and feel comfortable with who you are.

I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “She had learned to use either through prayer or meditation the ability to get in the best state of mind so that she could emotionally connect with her patients and do her best work. In that state of mind, she would not be distracted by her surroundings.” I said, “You’re saying anybody can be a good Buddha.” He went, “Yes.” My husband, who normally always embarrasses me, wanted to ask a question. I thought, “Wait for it. We’re going to have something funny.”

He folded his arms, looked at the monk and said, “Do you ever take a vacation?” His answer was, “Why would I have to? I’m always on vacation here.” It blew my mind. I came back and I’ve heard about functional medicine. I felt like we weren’t doing and looking at all the systems in the body. If one system goes awry, how does another system get affected? We were thinking, “Omega 3 fatty acids are very good and there’s good research to back it up in terms of preventing depression.”

It’s the same thing I was taught initially, one intervention for one disorder rather than looking at everything that goes on in the body and trying to make every system that has been influenced by this problem that started at the beginning that made everything go awry. I knew I needed to be more comprehensive. There wasn’t anybody in Child Psychiatry doing that. I went to the IFM, Institute of Functional Medicine, for a week-long introduction and my mind was blown away.

I saw a whole array of people, naturopaths, MDs, DOs and chiropractors. The one thing that you and I have been trained to do, which is getting a good timeline and history, was natural for me. They were going back to that and trying to find out all of the antecedents. What’s genetics? What are the triggers? What are the mediators that continue going on in that line? They’re finding out where it happened in their lives and explaining that to the patient, which I love because I could use my education. Also, trying to look at lifestyle to do one thing. That was to get the person in the best spiritual, mental and emotional state.

We were back to what medicine was meant to be and lost it when the Flexner Report happened at the turn of the century. That closed 75% of the medical schools. They wanted all the medical schools to be teaching the same thing. They wanted up the ante and make it mostly about science but we lost that human connection. William Osler who was at Hopkins at the time when they were doing this said, “I’m worried that we’re going to lose the ability to see other entities out there as meaningful. We won’t put emphasis on that but more importantly, I’m worried about losing what’s important here. That is your relationship with the patient and the people you teach.”

It wasn’t until the 1930s that Jacobson started doing a relaxation technique. In the ’70s, he started with the American Board of Holistic Medicine. They joined with the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, which became the American Board of Integrative Medicine, which is the certification I have. I got boarded in both but I feel like IFM, Institute of Functional Medicine, is going back to using and looking at everything in your life, normalizing it, and trying to realize that if we’re out of control, it may be because we’re not educated about what we need to do all along.

If we were taught what the monks were taught and they teach that to other kids early in our lives, maybe we wouldn’t have so many distresses that cause inflammation in the brain and lead to our overeating, eating the wrong things, and putting toxins in our body that we don’t know about. I keep going back to what I didn’t know about myself. I feel like the American society doesn’t have that knowledge either. It’s important at this point for all of us to continue to educate and teach people that what they’re fed on a commercial about the Whopper burger isn’t necessarily good food.

OYM Deborah Simkin | Emotional Connections

Emotional Connections: What’s important is your relationship with your patients and students.


How do you deal with your life? How do you look at everything in your life and try to catch it early so that it doesn’t lead to multiple systems being affected? That’s why Child Psychiatry is so much fun. I can do it earlier and educate families about what’s going on. It goes all back to my dad, the human connection, how do you overcome something if you don’t know what it is, and give people that knowledge because knowledge is power.

That’s where my passion is, continuing to teach. I teach Functional Psychiatry at Emory Medical School but for every person I meet, it’s like, “How do we connect and help each other? It’s not just me as the doctor and you as the patient. What do we do together to solve your life and give you the information so then you can make a decision?”

It strikes me that one of the last times I heard you give a presentation, you talked a lot about inflammation, and the growing body of knowledge about how so many of the psychological and psychiatric issues do have their roots in inflammation. You were talking about various things like EFT tapping, exercise and some others. Now they’ve got some scientific research that says, “These helps reduce the inflammation.” Can you talk about some of the key things around the issue of inflammation in the body and the brain? What have you found to help with it?

First of all, when the Flexner Report occurred, unfortunately, none of the research could have continued with what we do now in terms of Integrative Medicine or Functional Medicine. When the supplements were taken out of the FDA, the funding for any research like that for pharmaceutical companies went away. We got to keep doing the double-blind placebo-controlled studies.

What our committee has dedicated themselves to, and we’re doing it now, is producing a clinical update that is using all of the research that is out there that shows it has credibility, then coming up with recommendations for the American Academy of Child and Adolescents Psychiatry and what is useful. To do that, you have to look at inflammation because I can’t think of any area, whether it’s autoimmune diseases or psychiatric problems that isn’t influenced by inflammation. There are so many components of that.

The food you eat is sprayed with Roundup, which is a weed killer. It’s glyphosate. That kills all the normal microbes in your gut and most of us started eating cereal when we were six months old. From an early age, that microbiome has been changed. Because the gut itself is so immature and fragile, you can easily get food sensitivities that you may have never understood. It’s not an allergy but food sensitivity.

You look at all of the things that happened throughout someone’s life, whether it be abuse or weight gain because I’m coping with my stress by overeating. It’s increasing inflammation and insulin resistance. More toxins are being put into our bodies that are unheard of. All of those cause the breakdown of the gut. Although it was laughed at many years ago, dysbiosis and leaky gut is a resource of where all this inflammation begins. If you go to the brain and have all this inflammation, you cannot produce the normal neurotransmitters because the inflammatory response prevents it.

Give people knowledge because knowledge is power.

The hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal gland, which is what goes up when you’re in fight and flight, stay upregulated and never normalizes. In that state, pain is ten times worse. The stress that you feel feels ten times worse than it really was. The other thing that happens in the brain is that you have microglia, which are just like white blood cells. Their normal task is to go around and clean up all the debris and toxins in your brain.

When you have inflammation, they change their priorities and start producing inflammatory cytokines or more inflammation in the brain and attacking your neurons and causing changes in neuroplasticity. Beyond that, you can’t absorb the things you need for the brain like B12 or folate that are needed to produce neurotransmitters as well. You have all the problems with toxins, which is one of the things we’re going to be putting a lot of emphasis on in 2022.

If you are continually eating food that has glyphosate in it, because all the wheat in this country was sprayed with it, it works as an antibiotic to kill off the normal microbes in your gut. The bacteria that can sustain that is Clostridium. They have been able to identify organic acids in the urine that are produced by Clostridium, which can make dopamine in your frontal lobes toxic. There was a wonderful case where they thought this woman was schizophrenic and was in an acute psychotic state.

They saw a particular organic acid that was being produced, which meant that the dopamine wasn’t breaking down and was getting toxic in the brain. When they treated her to get rid of the Clostridium, her psychosis went away. I wished I was twenty because there is so much out there that we need to get to people in terms of their knowledge. There is a wonderful site called EWG Healthy Living. It’s an environmental working group.

It was a bunch of scientists who got tired of the toxins in the environment and said, “We can’t control what the government puts out there but we can control what we allow ourselves to be exposed to.” They formed this free app for your phone where you can put in any product that you use, household, shampoo or deodorants, and up will pop up all the toxins in it. When you go to buy another product, rather than buying the same thing, you can put in detergent and up will pop up twenty or more things with no toxins. You can simply go online and see the reports from different people or customers who have bought this and decide for yourself what you want to buy. There are several sites like this but I like this one the most.

They have an app to make it easy.

In American society, we’ve got to understand how much we’ve been brainwashed. The first Burger King was built in my hometown outside of New Orleans. I remember going there and eating 3 Whoppers, 2 orders of fries and a malt. To this day, when a Whopper comes on the screen in a commercial, I start salivating. The marketing is smart. It’s very hard to change the way you eat because the bacteria in your gut love to live off these processed foods.

OYM Deborah Simkin | Emotional Connections

Emotional Connections: When you have inflammation, you produce inflammatory cytokines that attack your neurons, causing changes in neuroplasticity.


They control your eating. They give off a hormone called ghrelin, which then tells you to crave these junk foods. People think, “It’s me. I can’t do it.” No, it’s the bacteria in your gut that’s controlling what you’re craving. Once you can get them to go away and stop beating that, that craving goes away. Changing the mindset is one of the hardest things I come across and I’m sure that’s for you as well because people are used to living the way they live.

They don’t realize that what they think and believe was programmed in. They’re thinking it because it’s been in their mind for so long. They don’t realize that it’s a trained response to the constant input in the eyes and ears, and that can be changed. It takes that conscious decision to put better stuff in to start questioning.

I’ve worked with several doctors that say, “Breaking that sugar craving and all that junk food is one of the hardest things you can do.” Some people need a reset like a fast for a few days and then slowly coming back off the fast in these only whole real foods that grew in the ground or on a tree. Some people need a supplement for the gut biome. When they do that, they don’t have the cravings.

You can’t say it’s causation but as the use of glyphosate went up in this country, the rate at which autism increased correlated. That’s because autism has a lot to do with mitochondrial diseases. Some of these things we’re eating or the toxins were coming in contact with prevent the Kreb cycle from working in mitochondria. You can pick that up too and identify, is it mold that’s doing this? Are these the non-metal toxins we’re coming in touch with? Is it heavy metals? Changing the course of that and early identification and information about people before they get pregnant is even more important.

I always tell this story because I was so inspired by it. You can do that if you want to. The thing is you’ve got to see that perhaps what may happen in changing your mindset may be worth or full of many rewards. My dad grew up in a very prejudiced part of New Orleans. He was taught to hate Blacks. One-on-one, he was never like that. As a group, the only thing I feared about him was when you could see that come out. However, I went to one of the crippled children camps one time. I saw my dad kneeling next to a little African-American girl who was paralyzed and in a wheelchair.

I saw him homing her. I saw her crying and him crying. When he walked back, I said, “Dad, what’s going on?” He said, “I’m so angry.” I said, “Why?” He said, “I bought into this all my life. If I had not let that go, I would not have seen the beauty of that little girl.” Sometimes you have to tell stories to help patients. I do use a lot of stories and analogies because if you can humanly connect with the person you’re working with, maybe they will see the virtue in them taking a look at this and changing their life too. Maybe everything that we’ve been brainwashed to believe isn’t true. You got to be able to tell the stories that connect people and that would not be taught to me by analysts to share my story.

The one thing that I also love about Dr. Onesti when I was at Harvard was he was a child analyst but he said, “You cannot do that with children or even adults. You have to tell your story. If you don’t, you won’t be able to connect with them.” That is so true. All of those things have led me to where I am. Hopefully, not just me but everyone who’s in this field will continue to be able to get the message out and help people. Hopefully, by sometimes sharing our stories, we can inspire as we’ve been inspired by those who got us where we are.

Be strong in your own identity.

If you connect with the people you’re dealing with, 80% or 90% of the risk of burnout drops away. If you’re viewing them as you’re the expert, they’re the patient and you’ve got all the answers, burnout is right around the corner. When you connect with people and understand, you can learn as much from your interaction with these people as they are going to learn from you. They enrich your life in ways that you can’t get if you don’t stay open to it. You open a world of growth for yourself and the people you’re working with but it has to happen through that connection that you’re talking about.

I love what you’re saying because the word enrich does enrich us. It’s what we will look back on and say, “I did a good job and helped somebody.” Otherwise, you can’t help them.

You said about stories. There’s a gentleman who wrote a book titled I’m On Fire, Watch Me Burn. It’s about having a passion for what you’re going to be doing your public speaking for. In that book, he talks about how he got to a certain level in his public speaking where he thought he was good. They asked him to come and judge a speaking contest. He sat there and said, “This is horrible. How do these people think they’re public speakers?” He doesn’t know why but they invited him back to do it the second year.

In the interim, he had a mentor who said, “Come down off your high horse and learn from every interaction you have.” When he went back the second year, he took a blank sheet of paper. At the top of each one for each speaker, he wrote, “What I can learn.” At the end of that, he said, “These speakers were so much better this year.” He learned a lot by changing his frame.

You also have to be strong in your own identity. There are a lot of people out there who will tell you because of the old methods of doing this that you should never share your personal life or you’re wearing your heart on your sleeve. I’m going, “Yes, I am.”

There’s a balance to be had too. Some people are so wounded when you end up in a therapy session with them. They’re having the therapy session and you’re paying them. They’re telling you about all their problems and that’s not good. You’re talking about this balanced approach where you understand you’re a human being and they’re human beings. The connection that’s needed for all of that therapeutic stuff to unfold is first order.

I know now because of what Dr. Onesti said to me about the analyst I work with and anybody I come up across who says, “It makes people uncomfortable because you wear your heart on your sleeve.” I often think, “That’s probably because they’re feeling inadequate about their ability to do it. They’re projecting it on you.” You shouldn’t share all the time. There are certain patients you need to take your time with and know that wouldn’t be the right time. That’s the skill in doing what we do. The bottom line is if you’re going to connect, you have to be able to do that.

OYM Deborah Simkin | Emotional Connections

Emotional Connections: Sometimes, you have to tell stories to help patients.


It reminds me of dealing with parents who have somehow gotten this faulty notion that they shouldn’t let their children see them have any of the weaker emotions, the sadness, hurt or confusion. It’s counterproductive. If the child can’t watch the parent go through those emotions, how can the child think he or she is normal when they have similar emotions and/or how they can learn to manage them within themselves.

What you have to teach parents is when you’re there, don’t let yourself see yourself as helpless. Be emotionally vulnerable. If you start to feel helpless, they’re going to feel that having that emotion means they’re helpless too. I love the junk thought technique. I always use this. That is if you’re feeling anxious and you can’t handle it, it’s probably your unconscious junk thoughts telling you that you can’t. Recognize that, take a breath and realize you’re okay, but don’t allow yourself to put the walls up. Allow them to see those precious moments and explain to them that it doesn’t destroy you. It empowers you because once you’re through that, you know you can handle even more.

One of the bottom line observations I have that I give to patients in a first or second meeting says, “If I have a negative thought about myself or somebody else or a negative emotion that’s up in my system, I can instantly know three things. The first one is it’s a lie or based on a falsehood. The second one is it’s not about the current situation. This is an old tape playing. The third thing is if I take an action from it, even if I just sit and think from that, say or do something based on that negative emotion, I’m going to make my situation worse. I can’t improve my life by throwing negative energy into it.”

It’s so beautiful. That is the method they’re using with the Olympic athletes. Who’s more perfectionistic than them? You don’t want to get rid of being a hard worker and diligent, but you also have to recognize you’re harder on yourself. When you get up to go and for one moment, you start to feel anxious, it’s your junk thought saying, “You can’t handle this or you can’t do this.” Stop, step back and get angry at the junk thought.

This is what’s so meaningful. If you’ve practiced meditation long enough and I do this several times a day in my office when I’m feeling like, “I’m getting a little drained here,” step back and be able to visualize a moment when everything went well. Use all your senses involved at that moment. Practice it though because you got to find the one sense that brings back that feeling and state of mind that makes you feel almost spiritual. It makes you feel content.

If you can bring that up and go to that moment, what follows is you at your best, which is exactly what you alluded to, Tim. If you stay in the state of mind where you’re anxious because of this junk thought, what follows is never you at your best. It’s such an incredible and beautiful philosophy. It’s easy to teach people.

Didn’t you have a story related to that with Shaun White?

Be hard-working and diligent, but you also have to recognize when you’re hard on yourself.

This guy trained Apolo Ohno. I can’t remember if it was him or someone else but it’s during his last Olympics. There were three runs. In the second run, he fell and the other two guys didn’t. In the third run, the other two guys went first and they fell. You see them get up to go. He’s pulling on his mask and fixing his goggles. What I was told was he recognized he was feeling anxious. That was not the moment to go. Whether this was true or not, this is what I was told.

He stepped back and got angry at the junk thought. He visualized his last Olympics and used all his senses involved. He saw his last hitting on the ground. He saw the snow come up. He heard the swoosh and people saying, “USA.” He thought he had it and went up to go again. You see him pull back again. What I was told was that if you don’t find a sensation that brings back that awesome feeling strong enough, the junk thought is going to override it again.

What I was told was that he visualized the end of his last Olympics when he got the gold. He scanned the crowd and suddenly saw his dad doing this and he just went. When I think of that story, it’s awesome because I had watched that run. That’s one of the most spectacular runs of his life. It’s a perfect example of how we have to look at our lives. We’ve got to be able to recognize several times during the day. I’m pretty obsessive-compulsive and hard on myself. I know and recognize it. I may feel helpless or a little anxious and I know, “There you go again.”

If you stay in that state of mind, whatever you do like Mother Teresa, you will not be able to be in the best state of mind to connect emotionally. I stepped back and closed the door. I recognized the junk thought. I think of those moments either when I danced or more importantly when I’ve been with a patient that I’ve made a difference, and how spiritual that moment was, not just for me but for the patient.

I’m in a different state of mind. What follows is me at my best, hopefully, but better than I would have been if I was anxious or feeling helpless. It’s so simple to teach people. Get them to take the time in their day to sit down. A lot of people see meditation as strange and associate it with Buddhism like, “I’m not too sure I want to do that,” but it can be listening to music.

Some people are more comfortable with a term like focus, mindfulness or practice rather than meditation or Buddhism. It’s a training that counterbalances the conditioning I’ve had for so many years, which was an automatic process. This is a conscious awareness process. I can compensate for all the years of conditioning when I was being told what to do without realizing it.

It’s feeling guilty if you didn’t do it right. I don’t know if your readers have seen the series Ted Lasso but it talks about human connection. It’s phenomenal. It was written as a trilogy. Jason Sudeikis from Saturday Night Live wrote it. I didn’t even know who he was until I saw this. I saw it on an Apple TV. My son got us to sit down and watch it. It’s about this football coach in the United States. He and his wife are getting divorced. He gave her some space and separation. He goes to England to coach a professional soccer team and he knows nothing about soccer.

OYM Deborah Simkin | Emotional Connections

Emotional Connections: The junk thoughts will override if you don’t find a sensation that brings back the incredible feeling strong enough.


It’s hilarious because you find out why he uses humor so much. As the story goes on, you find out more about him. The one thing he does so beautifully is his ability to connect with his players emotionally. In the second season, a sports psychologist comes in and you learn so much. It’s inspiring. All the actors in this have said they’d go home after doing this series and are kinder because of it.

It is something to watch. It’s only going to be written as a trilogy because he wants to make a point. It brings us back to what we used to be. With all the media and the technology that we have now that keeps us in this constant state of mind if we continue to look at it. We have a hard time finding who we are. I use it for therapeutic actions with patients sometimes to talk about things but it’s beautifully done. It does talk about the human connection. I would advise people to watch it.

I realize that we’re out of time. I can’t thank you enough for doing this interview. I’d love to be able to bend your ear again and pick your brain a little about a specific topic of your choosing related to what’s most effective when you’re trying to assess somebody that comes to you as a child, an adolescent or the parents that bring them. I’m grateful beyond words. Thank you so much for joining us. I look forward to our next time to connect.

Thank you. I’m so grateful to you, Tim. Thank you for all you do. It’s so wonderful to connect and emotionally connect with you as well as a colleague.

I appreciate it. Thank you.

Take care.

Dr. Deborah Simkin is the Co-Chair of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Committee on Integrative Medicine. She trained at Harvard McLean and Mass General Hospitals in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Following her residency, she served as Chair and Co-Chair of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Committee on Substance Abuse. In that position, she set up a liaison between the AACAP and the National Institute of Drug Abuse at the National Institute of Health. This was done to increase research among child and adolescent psychiatrists.

She also set up a liaison between the National Center for Complementary Alternative Medicine soon to be renamed the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health to increase research interest. Dr. Simkin has served as Associate Professor at Dartmouth Medical School, Clinical Assistant Professor while teaching residents at LSU School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Adjunct Associate Professor while at the University of South Alabama and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Emory Medical School.


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About Dr. Deborah Simkin

OYM Deborah Simkin | Emotional ConnectionsDr. Simkin, M.D. is a board certified Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist who practices Functional or Integrative Psychiatry and Sport Psychiatry. Dr. Simkin is a Distinquished Fellow with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and a Diplomate with the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. She is certified in Functional Medicine by the Institute of Functional Medicine and she is also board certified in neurofeedback by the Biofeedback International Certification Alliance.

She is co-chair of the AACAP’s Committee on Integrative Medicine.

Dr. Simkin trained at Harvard’s McLean and Mass General Hospitals in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Following her residency she served as chair/co-chair of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s (AACAP) Committee on Substance Abuse. In that position she set up a liaison between AACAP and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) to increase research among child and adolescent psychiatrists. She also set up a liaison between the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine or NCCAM (soon to be re-named the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine or NCCIM) at NIH and AACAP to increase interest in research.

Dr. Simkin has served as Assistant Professor while at Dartmouth Medical School, Clinical Assistant Professor while teaching residents at LSU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, Adjunct Associate Professor while at the University of South Alabama (USA) and is presently Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Emory Medical School. While at USA she served as residency director and became a member of the Society of Professor’s in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She presently teaches Complementary and Integrative Medicine in Psychiatric Disorders at the University of Emory. She has won many teaching awards while at LSU and USA.

She has authored many chapters, including chapters with Joel Lubar, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tennessee (who is the pioneer of neurofeedback for use with ADHD in the United States) and Robert Thatcher, PhD (who was the project manager at NIH when the correlations between quantitative EEG was done with neuoimaging, such as, PET scans). She also served as Co-Editor of the Adolescent Section in the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s Textbook on Addiction Medicine and served as Co-Editor for the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America’s two volume textbook on Alternative and Complementary Therapies for Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Disorders. Her co-editor for the latter was her former mentor at Harvard, Charles Popper, M.D. She has recently published 2 articles on the gut-brain-axis. One entitled “Microbiome and Mental Health, Specifically as It Relates to Adolescents” and one she wrote with her distinguished C0-Chair, Gene Arnold, entitled “The Roles of Inflammation, Oxidative Stress and the Gut-Brain Axis in Treatment Refractory Depression in Youth: Complementary and Integrative Medicine Interventions”.


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