The Integrative Approach
Sometimes the things you believe in and the things you do can get out of kilter.
It’s not so easy to establish balance when your private life, profession and personal needs all demand attention. That was the situation that once faced Cynthia Geyer, M.D., Medical Director at Canyon Ranch in Lenox. Then she found the right place – and the right approach – and thousands of guests are grateful she did.
When Dr. Geyer did her medical training at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY, she resonated with the program’s biopsychosocial model, which looked at the many facets of wellness. Later she became a teaching attendant in the Berkshires and was happily involved in her practice. It was after she gave birth to twins that things got out of hand.
“I tried working thirty-two hours a week at an emergency room plus being on call,” Dr. Geyer remembers. “It was way too much. I remember when one of my kids was sick, and I could only help other people.”
She says she experienced serious sleep-deprivation and learned a huge lesson about balance. “It was glaringly obvious that this wasn’t for me. I needed quality time with my children and time for me.”
That’s when she got the offer from Canyon Ranch Medical Director Mark Liponis, M.D. Joining the team at Canyon Ranch in Lenox felt like coming home for Dr. Geyer.
The doctor-patient bond
“I got back to balance, to the way medicine should be practiced,” Dr. Geyer says. Putting her training to full use, she got to work for the first time with experts in many other disciplines. “Here I could refer a patient to someone for nutrition, stress, biofeedback, fitness – it took everything to the next level. I had a team to work with.”
Dr. Geyer says one of the best aspects of her Canyon Ranch practice is that she sees so many of the same people year after year. And, unlike many physicians, she gets to see her patients when they’re healthy, not just when they’re sick. Guests get the huge benefit of having a doctor who really knows them and who tracks changes to keep them on a healthy path.
“The preventive piece gets underplayed too often in our culture,” Dr. Geyer says. “When I consult with my patients, we modify and reinforce strategies to keep them feeling good.”
Dr. Geyer also appreciates the unhurried experience she can offer. “The time factor is huge,” she says, referring to guest appointments that are normally 50 minutes. “A doctor’s visit at Canyon Ranch is never rushed or anxiety-ridden the way it can be at home.”
She says she’s continually amazed at the transformation she sees in guests just during their stays. “When people come to the Ranch, they’re surrounded by the beautiful environment, great food, and they have no stress – so they can tune into what’s really going on. Plus, they can work with great professionals.”
The integrative approach
In keeping with Canyon Ranch philosophy, when Dr. Geyer meets with a patient with symptoms, she looks for all the possible causes – not just symptoms that can be cured with a pill.
“If someone has a tight jaw, I have to know if it’s a medical condition or because of tension,” she says. “I might recommend yoga or meditation for that person.”
Dr. Geyer also gets to work closely with – and experience – non-Western medicine. “It’s been a huge learning curve,” she says. “Acupuncture can help tremendously. I also work with healing energy professionals, and I know the effects are very profound. Sometimes symptoms can be a physical manifestation of an uncomfortable emotion. Healing energy practitioners can often get to that source.
“The same lessons I’ve learned are the ones I keep in mind with my patients,” she says. “What are their passions, fears, support systems? What layers can they peel away to find that healthy balance?”
Dr. Geyer says that Canyon Ranch has been a revelation to her as much as to her patients. Like anyone with a career, she had to find the balance between professional goals and a fulfilling personal life.