About Dr. Vivian Polak

I am a psychiatrist with subspecialty training in reproductive psychiatry - the field of psychiatry that focusses on women with mental health disorders during the reproductive cycle. I currently focus mostly on those with disorders during pregnancy and the first year post-partum. I treat individuals, couples, and groups by telemedicine (OTN). I also provide eConsults, teach medical trainees, therapists, and physicians, and am on clinical faculty at McMaster University.

I completed medical school at University of Alberta in Edmonton, followed by psychiatry residency training at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I went on to do subspecialty training in Reproductive Psychiatry in Vancouver at the Reproductive Mental Health Program at BC Children's and Women's Hospital (BC's provincial program). After working for five years at the Reproductive Mental Health Program, as well as opening a satellite clinic in neighbouring Burnaby, I moved back to Ontario. 

I saw great benefit from the psychotherapies during my training and developed a keen interest in learning various techniques to help my patients, as follows: 

- Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), the most validated therapy in the perinatal population 
- CBT for depression - studied with Dr. Christine Padesky
- Exposure and Response Prevention - CBT for obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (IS-TDP) - studied with Dr. Habib Davanloo 
- Motivational Interviewing - a valuable technique for behavioural change, such as for substance use disorders
- Mindfulness - a beneficial practice for mental and physical illnesses in general
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) - studied with Dr. Marsha Linehan

My job is to educate and inform patients and referring practitioners about psychiatric illnesses and how to help each person achieve remission and overall wellness. It is not just about treating symptoms, and certainly not just about medicating. In addition to experiencing remission from psychiatric disorders, I aim to help those interested to fully recover their true selves, to realize satisfying relationships, to overcome self-defeating patterns, and to achieve optimal physical and mental health while minimising the risk of future illness. I promote a constellation of evidence-based lifestyle modifications around sleep, exercise, nutrition, alcohol, and day-to-day activities, as well as medication use in some.