In The Spirit is a monthly series profiling New York City based practitioners. These interviews are conducted in an effort to introduce leaders of the health community to readers of the New York Spirit, while creating a dialogue about wellness in our ever bustling city. This month we spoke to Dr. Ron Panvini, a psychotherapist from Long Island who uses Bioenergetic Analysis to connect with his patients.
How long have you lived here?
I’ve lived in New York City all of my life. I was born in Brooklyn, moved to Manhattan in my twenties and to Long Island in my forties. I’ve had an office on the Upper West Side for many years and now split my time seeing people for psychotherapy in the city and on Long Island.
Where do you find peace in the city?
In Manhattan, nothing beats Central Park. It helps if you have an office that is sound proof which I do. There are also many places of worship where you can go and sit and reflect in the middle of the day; they’re little sanctuaries within the bustling city.
What does an average day look like for you?
On the days I’m in NYC I drive in at about 10 am, after the rush hour traffic, and I do individual sessions (Bioenergetic Analysis) from 12 noon until 7pm, always with some time for rest in the middle of the day.
Do you have and hobbies or interests outside of work?
I’m a songwriter. I just produced an album of my songs – Who Are You? by Gig Sykes & The Walking Wounded. It can be purchased on Amazon or iTunes. Please visit the website www.gigsykes.com.
What inspired you to study psychotherapy?
I got into Bioenergetic Analysis while studying acting. My acting teacher Warren Robertson used some Bioenergetic techniques as part of his acting process. I became very interested in the modality and entered the professional training program in Bioenergetic Analysis. After completing that four year plus program, I went back to school and earned doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology.
Do you have any personal heroes in that field?
Alexander Lowen, MD was the main founder and pioneer of Bioenergetic Analysis. I learned much from him directly through knowing him and those he trained and through his many excellent books.
Are there any challenges you encounter that are unique to your field?
Psychotherapy is an art more than a science, a human art in which a good therapist attunes to each person’s unique struggle in life to help that person grow and develop. Significant factors that challenge psychotherapists come from those organizations, such as insurance companies, that try to put treatment into a medical paradigm. The medical model may work for physical diseases and those mental illnesses that require medication. But most people who seek psychotherapy are not sick – they suffer from the complexities and difficulties of being human. They need to be heard. They need time to heal from the wounds they often carry from childhood. These are profound issues which can’t be solved in the same way that we treat medical issues. You don’t just fix people like surgeons do; you can’t go in and cut out the bad thing, sew people up and send them on their way. People in psychotherapy often need an evolutionary process in which they are seen and heard, sometimes for the first time in their lives. Therapy can be relatively short or long depending on one’s issues. The major challenge as I see it is to teach those in power how to look at, and understand, what psychotherapy is and what kind of treatment really helps people.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Getting a Ph.D. later in life. Creating an album of songs that speak to those in therapy and to those who need therapy, while still being entertaining.
What ambitions would you still like to achieve?
I’m always learning and developing. I have more songs to write and more creativity in me. Every day that I work with people I become a more skilled, better therapist. There’s always room to grow.
How can New Yorkers practice well being in the city?
People need some form of self-reflection no matter where they live. New York is a very alive, often confronting place that can excite but can also intrude on our peace of mind. Psychotherapy is one form of going inside and contacting our deeper selves. There are many other practices out there – you can find everything in The Big Apple – that can help us to move closer to ourselves. There are two avenues to connect to ourselves. The first is expression (movement, exercise, feeling our feelings) which discharges tension and stress, often resulting in the calmness that allows us to remember who we are. The second way to connect is reflection (meditation, relaxation) which helps us to slow down and connect with being rather than doing. Both expression and reflection lead to the same place: we need to learn which path to take at different times. Bioenergetic Analysis incorporates both expression reflection while other approaches may only offer one path to our insides.
How do you find balance in unsettling times?
As I have gotten older, I’ve realized that many phases of life come and go and I’m still here. I seemed to have survived good times and bad times, not only personally. There have been many times when the world seemed bleak and hopeless. Those times passed and good times returned. We’re being challenged once again in this new era of chaos and turmoil. This too shall pass. We need to stay engaged, follow our dreams, work on ourselves, and strive for the things that matter to us. We still have many opportunities in America and in this great city. If you despair seek help. It’s out there. Storms come, but storms also go.
See you next month with another Q & A.