A New Psychiatry Subspecialty?

Interventional psychiatry is an emerging subspecialty that uses brain stimulation techniques to modulate the dysfunctional circuitry underlying medically resistant psychiatric diseases. Physicians who deliver procedures in the spectrum between standard care and surgery are sometimes referred to as “interventionalists” in other areas of medicine (eg, cardiology, radiology, and neurology). Currently, the field of psychiatry does not recognize interventionalists or offer formal training and certification. Our group is proposing the concept of “interventional psychiatrist” in place of procedure-specific terms such as “somatic therapist” or “ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) practitioner,” which fail to encompass the scope of brain stimulation strategies. It is not meant to replace current psychiatric therapies (medication and psychotherapy) but rather to enhance the practice of psychiatry with an additional set of tools. This can be viewed much in the same way that interventional cardiologists do not replace general cardiologists.

by Bret S. Stetka, MD, Edward M. Kantor, MD, Nolan R. Williams, MD

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