Sean X. Luo, M.D., Ph.D. is a boutique psychiatry and consulting practice located in Upper West Side, New York. I am a board-certified psychiatrist providing a full range of services for mental health evaluation and treatment. I am also a researcher in clinical neuroscience and substance abuse at Columbia University. In addition to treating common problems such as depression and anxiety, I have a special interest in helping individuals with behavioral addictions, such as Internet Addiction.
What is your practice philosophy?
I provide a full spectrum of psychiatric and mental health care for my patients. From the initial evaluation, careful attention is paid to details in the history and mental status examination, and a comprehensive treatment plan is designed and optimized to individual needs and resources. In addition, because of the limited number of patients I carry, I can provide attention and time at the boutique service level.
What are some of the unique aspects of your practice?
I am dually trained as both a clinician and a researcher. My Ph.D. is at the intersection of neuroscience and a number of quantitative disciplines such as statistics and artificial intelligence. This allows me a rare fluency in current scientific literature both in fundamental research in biological psychiatry, medication development and neuroscience and in large clinical studies and longitudinal studies. On the one hand, I can explain complex and nuanced scientific results in a comprehensible way to facilitate joint decision-making. On the other hand, I am informed by both the strengths and pitfalls of the most current treatment strategies.
Secondly, being a full time academic researcher at Columbia University provides a unique system for networks of referral. Many of my mentors and colleagues that I interact with on a regular basis are leading experts in their respective subspecialties. This system-based practice makes it especially advantageous for challenging and complex cases or second opinion consultations.
Am I an appropriate patient for your practice?
If you think you may benefit from an evaluation, please call me for a free over-the-phone consultation. An in-person initial evaluation takes approximately 90 minutes. Depending on the results of the evaluation, I may need further collateral information, such as laboratory studies, radiographic reports, family collateral, medication history and records. Once the evaluation is complete, I will design a customized treatment plan and arrange for further appointments as needed.
What is your confidentiality policy?
Maintaining strict confidentiality is my highest priority. Any disclosure of clinical information to any third party will require an explicit discussion and consent process. Because my practice follows a boutique model, I may never directly interact with any managed-care or financial institutions, providing you with the peace of mind to focus on your treatment in private.
Do you conduct second opinion consultations?
Due to my unique background and training, I can provide second opinion consultation services for select patients. I have developed a clinical interest in behavioral addictions such as Internet Addiction, Internet Gaming Addiction, Sex Addiction, and Internet Pornography Addiction, and can serve as a second opinion consultant for these cases. I can also provide assessment for the appropriate use of current personalized medicine products (genetic testing, pharmacogenetics, etc.) on the market. Finally, I conduct second opinion consultations on the appropriate use of evidence based short-term psychotherapy and focused literature review of complex psychopharmacologic treatments. If you think that my particular area of expertise may be of use, please have your current provider contact me directly for a referral.
Do you conduct phone or video sessions? Do you use E-mail? Do you use social networking?
For existing long-term patients who reside in the State of New York, I do provide video sessions via a secure, HIPPA compliant client software system. Video sessions require some prior orientation time, but generally are not different from in person sessions. I also provide e-prescribing services for available pharmacies.
I do not conduct sessions over the phone. I reserve phone calls for administrative questions.
For questions relating to other electronic communications, please see practice policies.
Do you prescribe medications?
I provide a full range of psychopharmacologic services.
What is your philosophy regarding psychotropic medications?
Psychotropic medications can be very helpful for some individuals. My philosophy on medications is that prescribing practices must be guided by existing scientific evidence. This includes formal diagnostic questionnaires with quantitative indexes for evaluating symptom severity and diligent longitudinal tracking of medication responses. I do recognize that there are often gaps in our understanding in these complex medications and combinations. I use my extensive knowledge in the neural circuit basis of psychiatric symptoms to design medication regimens that are both sensible and efficacious.
What is your philosophy regarding other somatic treatments?
I do not currently provide brain stimulation services such as outpatient electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), deep brain stimulation (DBS) or trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). However, I do provide a program in light therapy.
Do you conduct psychotherapy?
I provide a full range of psychotherapeutic services.
What is your psychotherapeutic theoretical orientation?
My practice is focused mainly on evidence-based psychotherapies that have a strong scientific basis for efficacy. I have extensive experience in conducting time-limited cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), brief dynamic psychotherapy (BDP) and supportive psychotherapy that target specific psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety. My sessions are primarily symptom driven and goal oriented, and I design personalized therapeutic programs to help patients achieve symptomatic remission in the most efficient way.
Do you conduct long-term, insight-oriented, exploratory psychotherapy?
While my practice focuses mainly on short-term, evidence-based psychotherapies, I have a few spots for developing a unique therapeutic relationship with select patients. Generally these exploratory treatments require a longer-term commitment of at least once weekly sessions that may potentially elicit transformative changes in aspects of personality and interpersonal pattern, and can address complex issues in relationships, creativity and personal goals. I am informed by classical Freudian theories and subsequent developments in psychodynamic psychotherapy. I am also informed in my therapeutic approaches by my knowledge and training in continental philosophy, cultural anthropology and critical literary and art theory in understanding the roles of culture, gender relationship, kinship and other complex factors involved in individual fulfillment. Finally, I am informed by Eastern philosophy, especially Chinese philosophy and incorporate elements of Zen Buddhism and mindfulness into my exploratory treatment sessions.
Do you conduct psychoanalysis?
I do not conduct intensive, 3 or more times a week, psychoanalytic treatment. However I can refer you to the right provider if this is the right treatment for you.
Do you work with outside psychotherapists?
I have extensive experience in collaborating with other psychotherapists (“split treatment”) in providing comprehensive care to my patients.
Do you conduct Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), schema therapy, transference focused psychotherapy (TFP), or other group therapies and day treatment programs?
I have extensive knowledge in evidence-based psychotherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder. However, I do not have the capacity to provide individual or group treatment for patients with severe personality disorder or chronic suicidality. If based on my evaluation a higher level of care is needed, I can provide referral and continuity of care for the appropriate patient to recover from these challenging psychiatric conditions.
Do you speak any other languages?
I speak Mandarin Chinese fluently. 我会说中文普通话。
What kind of substance use disorder treatment do you provide?
I provide a full range of comprehensive treatment programs for a variety of substance use disorders, such as alcohol, nicotine and cannabis. In addition, I have completed additional training as an addiction psychiatry research and clinical fellow at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute. Similar to my general psychiatry practice, if you are interested in substance use disorder treatment, please call me to arrange for a phone consultation. An appointment can be made subsequently for a comprehensive initial evaluation.
Do you use medications for substance use disorders?
Contrary to popular belief, several medications, such as naltrexone, buprenorphine and varenicline, are available today to assist in recovery from a number of substance use disorders. I prescribe medications based on the most up-to-date clinical and scientific evidence to maximize efficacy. Furthermore, as psychiatric co-morbidities are common in patients with substance use disorders, I also use medications and combination strategies to address co-morbid psychiatric disorders.
Do you provide psychotherapy for substance use disorders?
I am trained in a number of psychotherapeutic modalities in treating patients with substance use disorders. Commonly used psychotherapy modalities include motivational interviewing (MI), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), relapse prevention treatment (RPT) and network and family modalities.
Do you conduct urine drug screens in your office?
I do conduct routine urine drug toxicology screening, as well as, if appropriate, alcohol breathalyzer analysis and expiratory carbon monoxide in my office. However, the results of these screens are a confidential part of your treatment records and are only used to monitor treatment efficacy and customize treatment program as necessary.
Do you conduct outpatient detox/rehab?
Yes. I conduct outpatient detox/30-day rehab for a variety of substance use disorders. However, this modality of treatment is not appropriate for every patient. Acceptance into such a program requires an initial evaluation appointment. The fee structure is somewhat different for outpatient detox-rehab services. Please contact me for details.
Do you provide IM Vivitrol ® injections?
I currently do not have the capacity to provide IM Vivitrol injections. However, this may change depending on my practice condition in the future.
Do you provide buprenorphine induction services?
For a small number of patients, I can provide office-based buprenorphine treatment. In order to enter into this treatment an initial evaluation is required. Patient will be routinely monitored for on-going drug use. I am authorized to prescribe buprenorphine by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Prescription for maintainance buprenorphine will require an extensive evaluation and evidence for prior stable treatment. Fee structure for buprenorphine induction is different from my usual fee schedule.
Do you work with outside psychotherapist?
I do collaborate with other mental health professionals in providing only psychopharmacologic treatment for appropriate patients.
Do you work with individuals who are in Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)?
Twelve step programs are effective treatments for some individuals. However, other patients have difficulty participating and engaging in these programs. I work with both patients who are engaged in a twelve-step program and those who desire to use a different treatment system to facilitate their recovery from their substance use disorder. While for some patients abstinence is the goal, in other patients, harm reduction is the primary endpoint. I provide a treatment environment that can assist in making individualized treatment decisions.
Do you treat behavioral addictions such as gambling problems and Internet addiction?
While consensus treatment guidelines for these entities have yet to emerge, I do engage patients who complain of a variety of behavioral addiction pathologies. I provide a combination of symptom targeted, evidence based psychopharmacologic and psychotherapeutic treatment for behavioral addictions. The most important aspect of treating these difficult pathologies is to recognize and adapt to specific circumstances and allow for a flexible way for alterations of behavioral patterns.
What kind of consulting services do you provide?
Behavioral Health Technology Development
I provide independent advisory services for building a complete product development, clinical testing, and regulatory approval pipeline. In particular, I focus on new technology-driven products in mental health and substance use, including neuroscience-based software, medical devices, genetics/diagnostics, and novel mechanism biopharmaceuticals.
Specific areas of expertise:
- • Evaluation of product ideas with existing scientific evidence
- • Technology-driven fund raising (SBIR/STTR, state, federal, local and foundation grants, private investor/VCs)
- • Advisory for seed to mature startups partnering with large institutions: academic, CROs, managed care organizations, pharmaceutical/device companies
- • Fine grained product development and identifying external expertise in engineering, human-device interaction and design
- • Budgeting and team building
- • Clinical development pipeline, especially early stage (Phase 0-II): designing feasibility studies, IRB approval, recruitment, randomization, clinical trial operation, analysis. I will work with clients who have a shoestring budget.
Behavioral Health Data Science
I have data analytics expertise in the behavioral health space, and can form and operate analytics teams depending on the scope of the project. My past experience focuses mostly on large-scale organizational data mining from a variety of sources in substance use disorders.Specific areas of expertise:
- • Problem evaluation with or without funding agencies
- • Data warehousing, cleaning, encryption, protection of privacy
- • Design of problem-driven machine learning and statistical algorithms for data analysis, data visualization, cross validation, performance evaluation
- • User facing software design (subcontract)
- • Internal and external reporting and presentations
- • Formal reporting/writing targeting funding agencies, consumers, patients and administrators
- • Budgeting, project planning, subcontracting, administrative advisory
- • Internet and technology addiction
- • Managing mental health and substance use related issues for technology workers, especially in the startup ecosystem
- • Statistical and machine learning literacy for healthcare startup CEOs and management teams
Mental Health and Technology Education and Outreach
I have expertise delivering lectures and seminars, and designing educational material and courses on the following topics:
How do I know if the project may be a potentially good fit for your expertise?
Very similar to my clinical practice, my consulting practice begins with a free phone interview. If we can come to mutually agreeable terms, I then schedule a formal evaluation process very similar to a clinical intake process. At the end of the evaluation if it is determined that you will contract my service, the evaluation session is billed together with the rest of the project implementation time.
What is your consulting fee schedule?
My consulting fee schedule depends on the scope of the project/context. It can be an hourly fee, similar to my private practice, for small scale projects, or a combination of project-based budgeting with or without equity compensation/revenue sharing for large scale projects.
Can you tell me a bit about your research in a simple way?
I conduct research at the interface of statistics, computer science, neuroscience and clinical psychiatry. What I am interested in is the intriguing question of why and how. Why does a psychotropic medication work for one patient but not for another? How can we make predictions about whether someone will respond to a psychotherapeutic treatment? The approach I am taking is one that leverages large datasets and pattern recognition methods derived from research in artificial intelligence and machine learning, methods that also allow the new ATMs to read your handwriting and Google Car to drive itself. My hope is that these algorithms that enable computers to learn from large datasets can eventually illuminate pathways with which we can find psychiatric treatments that are more personalized and reveal underlying brain circuit abnormalities that are both fascinating and informative.
The data sources my colleagues and I are examining now involve a number of research modalities including neuroimaging, large-scale genetics/pharmacogenetics, large multi-center randomized clinical trial data and longitudinal epidemiological data. I am applying existing methods and developing new analytic strategies.
In addition, I am interested in evidence-based policy and implementation work. If we (and our smarter algorithms) can estimate individual responses in a more precise, quantitative way, we can make policy recommendations that are intelligent and adaptive, customizable to macroscopic trends in demographics and etiologic shifts, and in turn substantially improve outcome and alleviate suffering.
Currently I am working on a number of projects within the Substance Abuse Research Division at Columbia University, Department of Psychiatry and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. For a full synopsis of my research, including publications and on-going studies, please visit my academic site.
Do you enroll patients from your private practice into your research studies?
For ethical reasons and to avoid conflict of interest, I do not enroll any of my private practice patients into current research studies. However, I can use my knowledge of available clinical trials within the greater New York community to advise patients to potentially enroll into a research study if it is determined that the appropriate treatment plan can incorporate these elements.
How can I learn more about your research studies?
Please refer to my academic site for further information on ongoing studies.
Dr. Sean X. Luo is a board-certified psychiatrist and researcher. Dr. Luo was born in Shanghai, China. He received primary and secondary education in West Lafayette, Indiana. He subsequently studied physics and mathematics at the University of Chicago. He conducted research at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Behavior at UCLA. He received an M.D. and a Ph.D. degree in theoretical and computational neuroscience from Columbia University, under supervision from Nobel laureate Richard Axel and noted theoretical neuroscientist L. F. Abbott, and collaborated with a number of scientists from Rockefeller University, Harvard Medical School, California Institute of Technology and Yale University. His work has been published in a number of leading journals, including Nature, Nature Neuroscience, the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, and Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Dr. Luo has been focusing on translating computational neuroscience and machine learning techniques to large scale clinical research and clinical trial datasets, especially in the field of substance use disorders. In part supported by the Leon Levy Foundation, his work during residency training at Columbia Univesrity/New York State Psychiatric Institute has received a number of awards, including the APA/Eli Lily Research Award and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry Young Investigator Award. He is currently working on a number of new manuscripts and has most recently been the lead-author for a new chapter on Internet Addiction.
In addition to his scientific and clinical work, he is also actively engaged in scientific outreach and disseminating knowledge to the public. He was interviewed by CBS News on Internet Addiction and his research was profiled by Medscape. He also writes a column for Rehabs.com Protalk. He was a speaker on personalized medicine and addiction treatment at nerdnite: nerdtacular at Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO, Brooklyn. He writes a blog for Psychology Today focusing on Big Data, substance abuse and mental health. His most recent print article for a general audience was published in Psychology Today Magazine in Nov. 2014.
For full CV, click here.
Do you charge for missed sessions?
Per standard practice, missed sessions will be charged full fee unless I was notified at least 1 business day in advance. For patients in long-term psychotherapy, notices are required two weeks in advance to avoid being charged.
Do you take insurance? How can I get insurance reimbursement?
I am currently accepting all major insurances as an out-of-network provider. For patients enrolled in large managed care plans, it may be possible to obtain out-of-network benefits by simply switching to a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan, which is usually offered by your insurance company, for a minimal increase in monthly premimum. I will collect payment at the time of service and provide a receipt with diagnoses, treatments and costs. You submit this receipt to your insurance company, with out-of-network reimbursement paperwork as needed. I will assist you in filling these paperwork if necessary. The insurance company will reimburse you in a few weeks. Prior to using out-of-network benefits, please call your insurance company.
For your convenience, here is a worksheet of questions to ask your insurance company. If you would like, you may also use a Microsoft Document version of this worksheet, and send it to me as an attachment. I will help you determine exactly what it would cost you to receive care.
I am no longer a Medicare provider. If you are a Medicare enrollee and interested in my service, please contact me regarding entering into a private treatment contract with me.
Is there a minimum frequency for visits?
For standard psychopharmacologic follow-up visits, I will need to meet with you at a minimum once every three months. For psychotherapy patients, there is some flexibility depending on treatment objectives, but it would be unusal to meet at a frequency below once every month.
Do you have a comprehensive practice policy information form for me to review?
Please download the practice policy sheet here. We will also go over the policy at the initial evaluation appointment. For psychotherapy treatment, I will provide a separate treatment contract which will stipulate the framework for treatment at the beginning of the treatment course.
What is your current fee schedule?
Fee schedules are updated yearly. Please contact me via phone or E-mail for a copy of the most current fee schedule.
Please send an E-mail or call for a free phone screening. Please be sure to include the call back number in the E-mail.
You can also use this online submission module via Google Forms to contact me. Keep in mind electronic transmission is not always secure.
New York, NY 10024
Subway or car to 85th street and Broadway: the office is located between Broadway and West End Avenue on the 1st Floor. Hit the buzzer #8 (Dr. Stein), enter Suite 1B and I will open the door for you to the waiting room.