Latino Community is Beneficiary of Psychiatrist’s Work

By Scott Campbell

Photography by Ali Waxman


Dr. José Montaner is a psychiatrist who deals with the emotional and behavioral problems that plague children, adolescents and adults. He is board-certified in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and a Fellow of the American Psychiatry Association.

“I help patients who have mood disorders, like depression, that trouble children and adolescents,” says the Lancaster resident. “Others struggle with anxiety disorders, such as separation anxiety and social anxiety. Other children may engage in disruptive behaviors, such as Opposition Defiant Disorder, or have neuro-developmental disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).”

In the past, children with such problems commonly saw a psychiatrist who administered and monitored the required medication and also provided therapy, or they met with just a therapist for only therapy. Today, a team of mental health professionals and other agencies bring their knowledge, experience and skills to bear on the patient at different levels of treatment.

“Therapy begins with hello,” says Montaner. “Working initially with the patient’s parents and interviewing the patient, one is able to develop a diagnosis. Medication can help the patient to engage in therapy to develop coping skills and problem-solving skills.”

“In addition to the mental health professionals and parents, those comprising the team can be extended primary care physicians, family, foster parents, school personnel or probation officers,” says Montaner. “They observe the child in the context of daily life and are able to describe how their diagnosis affects their daily living.”

As a physician, Montaner develops a diagnosis and considers the patient’s medical history, since medical problems can mimic emotional problems.

“Identifying symptoms that reflect certain areas of the brain is vital. Once they are addressed, the emotions and behaviors improve,” he says.

His philosophy of treatment combines development of a diagnosis and effective medication treatment with the team approach, which allows patients to improve emotionally, behaviorally and cognitively.

“My patients are like jewels,” says Montaner. “They have many sides or facets. Different members of the team perceive them differently. Each team member provides input, and a more complete clinical picture develops. The treatment plan addresses different goals and objectives depending on the identified needs.”

“I have fun at what I do,” declares Montaner. “I enjoy developing a therapeutic relationship with the family and helping patients address the issues that bother them. It can be a difficult task, but it’s gratifying to see how patients improve.”

Montaner has contributed to the mental health needs of the region’s Latino community. During his residency, he was involved with Dr. Jeannette Morales at the Hispanic Outpatient Clinic. In Lancaster, he worked at SACA Nuestra Clinica and joined Dr. Morales once again to serve Spanish-speaking patients at Pinnacle and the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute. He is currently employed by Philhaven and is developing its Spanish-speaking clinic.

Born at Fort Benning, Georgia, Montaner is 57 years old. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Boston College and his medical degree at Ponce School of Medicine in Ponce, PR. Montaner completed his residency for general psychiatry and child and adolescent fellowship at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Before starting at Philhaven last November, he was employed as an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Penn State Hershey Department of Psychiatry, working with medical students and psychiatry residents.

For the last 25 years, Montaner and his wife have been living in Lancaster and are both active in the San Juan Bautista Church on Duke Street.

“My spare time is limited,” says Montaner when queried about other avocational interests. “I’m kind of a home body. I enjoy being with my wife and daughter. And I like to exercise, mostly jogging in the neighborhood.”

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Staff Writer

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