Mental Health in Italy: An Interview with Dr. Paolo Molino
I was lucky enough to spend the month of July this year in Italy with our CEO and host of Mental Health News Radio, Kristin Walker. Armed with high speed internet in our villa and the fact that Kristin does 75% of her work via phone and email, she was able to vacation some, work a lot, and spend some time volunteering. We were also there to grieve the passing of her father, my husband. Amidst all of this activity I wondered how she could possibly fit in volunteer work. But, not to worry, in one day she located ten volunteer organizations in Florence and fired off a simple email request asking if they would were available to discuss the work they do within the mental health community of Florence. This led to an invitation to meet with Dr. Paolo Molino, a local psychotherapist.
I went with Kristin to meet Dr. Molino (he prefers Paolo) at his office for 30 minutes, but he was so obviously enjoying their discussion that after 90 minutes he invited us to come with him to pick up his preschool daughter so they could continue talking. Their discussion ranged from why he chose this field and how he built his practice (he speaks excellent English as well as French, so can also work with foreign clients), the education and credentialing process in Italy, and his preference for therapy treatments (Gestalt). Just incidentally we also got a chance to be in the neighborhoods, not just the tourist areas, see a private Italian apartment-home, and drive (wildly!) through the streets to the local school.
It was important for Kristin to find out what his views were on mental health, what stigmas there are in Italy as opposed to the United States, and what his experience as a practitioner were like day-to-day. She told him about Mental Health News Radio and her audience of mostly behavioral health providers in the United States (we have a small but growing number in Ireland and the U.K.).
While his home office was definitely designed in the minimalist style, he did have a framed poster from the 2007 American film, The Visitor, directed by Thomas McCarthy. I had already seen the movie and it was interesting to hear his views on immigration, so different are the attitudes in America vs. Europe. Paolo also had 3 face masks as wall decorations which lead to another conversation. The masks weren’t just the typical ones one sees—one for comedy and the other for tragedy—but he told us that the local artist had disappeared after completing that part of the commission so he may never be able to finish the set (what emotions do the other masks express, I wondered?). Again, I was pleased to witness Kristin’s ability to put others at ease so quickly, in person or over the phone, but their rapid conversion from stranger to communicators-in-depth was profound. By the time they were forced to stop talking—because he had a client to meet—Paolo had committed to an interview on Mental Health News Radio. The next week when she returned to his office their planned 30 minutes turned into a full hour.
There is no insurance coverage for mental health in Italy unless you have private insurance. Because of Paolo’s fluency in multiple languages he does provide treatment via Skype and telephone. He is also sought after by tourists and the local expat community. The interview is an interesting look at mental health – Italian style.
Dr. Paolo Molino
Via Antonio Scialoja 68
Tel. +39 3311064726
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