Emphatic, comprehensive and evidence-based. This is how Nitzia Logothetis (photo, left) describes the type of care women will receive at Seleni, a new maternal mental health and wellness practice in New York City.
A trained psychotherapist who has worked extensively with children and families, Logothetis and her husband George Logothetis founded Seleni, a foundation aimed at better understanding and addressing women’s unique health care needs, nearly three years ago.
Logothetis and her husband officially announced the opening of the new center – the Seleni Psychology Counseling and Support – in New York – a place that can provide top quality care to a full spectrum of patients.
“This is what sets us apart and makes Seleni unique,” says Nitzia Logothetis, who stresses the need to de-stigmatize women’s reproductive and maternal mental health.
“Services for children are usually quite good, but there is an absence of services for the parents,” explains Logothetis, who serves as Founder and Executive Chairwoman of the Seleni Institute (her husband serves as the co-founder and treasurer). “You can only help the child so far therapeutically if you don’t help the family – the mother especially.
“The idea is that if you can treat the mother then you really have a better chance of treating the entire family,” she adds.
The main focus of the clinic is to provide support and therapy for women suffering from recurrent miscarriages, still-birth and child loss, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and depression related to infertility, amongst others.
“We have done a lot of research,” says Logothetis. “There are actually only two or three hospitals for mothers across the country. But there’s really nothing like Seleni, which offers such a broad range of services… Not only do we provide psychotherapy, we also provide workshops and support groups. It’s very difficult to find everything all under one roof – and that’s what makes us so unique.”
The lens of motherhood
Another important factor that sets Seleni apart from other therapeutic centers assisting women and mothers is that it looks at maternal mental health through the lens of motherhood.
“We feel this allows us to de-stigmatize mental health,” says Logothetis. “This is very important because as soon as you mention any diagnosis, most people go running the other way. But by looking at it through the lens of motherhood it sort of makes it more accessible to people. It makes things more tangible and understandable.”
The institute’s new clinic on East 94th street can treat several hundred women per week.
Research, research, research
But most importantly, according to Logothetis, is the institute’s dedication to funding researchers studying the maternal mental health issues with the aim of increasing the field’s knowledge base.
“This is what is really important,” she says. “Because we cannot treat people unless we know what is happening. If you increase the knowledge, you can increase the number of therapies that are available, you can add to existing treatments or discover new treatments. For us, it’s also very important to help the world as much as we can.”
Another important facet of the institute is its strong online presence, which is growing and reaching out to women across America who cannot access the clinic. Seleni’s website is packed with information. Users can learn about anything and everything related to motherhood – from the different types of baby food on the market to coping with miscarriage.
“Women can get solace from other women who may have had a stillbirth, for example,” says Logothetis, who is also the mother of two young boys.
Feedback and future plans
The feedback that Logothetis, her husband and her team of therapists have received so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
“All across the board, people have been saying how they wish Seleni had existed when they had miscarried or after they had their first child because they had struggled so much and didn’t know what was wrong,” says Logothetis.
But the new clinic is just the first of many steps for Logothetis, who says future plans include funding more research and making Seleni a thought leader in the field.
“We would love to host a conference or two and become a platform for others to collaborate. We really want to collaborate with the field and all those people who are doing wonderful work. We would love to bring them together and share their knowledge. We want to be a model of what clinical care should be. We want to maintain a high quality of care. “
A brave name
The name Seleni is a cross between the Greek goddess of the moon Selene and Eleni Gatzoyianni, a Greek mother killed during the Greek Civil War in 1948 after arranging the escape of her children (including her son Nicholas Gage, a famous Greek American actor/director who wrote a book and movie about his mother).
“This is where the name comes from,” says Logothetis. “By recognizing Eleni Gatzoyianni’s bravery, we recognize how brave our patients must be to come and discuss what is going on… It’s very hard to come in and talk about your emotions and to face up to your demons.
“We hope to fill that void for women and families struggling with infertility, miscarriage, early infant loss, and anxiety and depression during or after pregnancy, and put an end to women’s suffering in silence.”