Rego Park psych clinic celebrates 50 years

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A Rego Park mental health clinic that was founded after World War II with three rooms and eight patients is planning to celebrate its 50th anniversary this summer.

Reflecting advances in psychiatry, treatment given to patients has changed significantly at the Long Island Consultation Center within the past few decades, said LICC director Robert Moteki, who joined the outpatient clinic at 97-29 64th Rd. as a trainee in 1965.

Founded in 1953 in a three-room facility, the LICC now has 38 rooms and is one of the largest private outpatient clinics in the metropolitan area with 67 staff members. It has five psychiatrists, five psychologists, three nurses and 45 social workers.

About 25 percent of patients at the LICC clinic are on medication to treat disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, obsessive/­compulsive disorder, severe anxiety and panic disorder, said Moteki.

"The proliferation of drugs was a godsend," said Moteki. "People who were hopelessly warehoused in grim, gray hospitals were able to be treated and released from state hospitals."

About 85 percent of the clinic's approximately 3,200 appointments per month are for behavioral therapy or cognitive counseling. Appointments generally last 45 minutes and cost up to $67. Most patients are from Queens.

"It used to be that 50 percent were treated with character analytic behavior therapy," said Moteki, referring to a type of talk therapy, also known as psychoanalytic therapy in which the doctor helps the patient discover the root of a behavioral problem, how it was learned, why it occurred, and how to correct it.

"In the mid to late '80s, there was a shift to more counseling and problem/symptom focused therapy," he said.

With behavior therapy, the therapist helps the patient resolve a problem without going back to the origins of the problem.

"Over time, talk therapy has become progressively shorter," said Moteki. "It used to be that it was rather common for a patient to be seen for 1 1/2 years. Now it's common for a patient to be seen for half a year with resolution of conflict or problems within half a year."

Research that improved the understanding of the chemical and neurological origins of psychiatric disorders, combined with advances in psychiatric medicine, have greatly changed the effectiveness of treatment, said Moteki.

"People used to believe that bad mothering caused schizophrenia," he added. "Now it's understood that the origins are physiological."

According to Moteki, one of the first advances in anti-psychotic medication occurred in Cambodia in the 1950s when a drug called Thorazine was used by the French to quiet down wounded soldiers who had been traumatized by the Indo-China war.

A World War II treatment used sodium pentathol to induce soldiers to enter a half-asleep, half-awake trance when they could be persuaded to talk about trauma which they had experienced, he said.. The sessions were cathartic and helped soldiers to recover from the trauma.

Slowly wartime techniques found their way into mainstream medicine, and the use of anti-psychotic drugs became more common.

Today a variety of emotional disorders such as depression, panic disorder and anxiety that did not used to be treated with medication are treated by the LICC staff with drugs such as Zoloft and Prozac in addition to talk therapy, said Moteki.

In the future, better medications, combined with new techniques and a greater acceptance by society of emotional and mental disorders should further improve psychiatric treatment, Moteki added.

The clinic plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary June 11 with a dinner in downtown Manhattan.

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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