Remarkable Women 2023: Dr. Eileen Trigoboff, the dancing doctor making patients feel less alone

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — “Don’t do it alone.”

That’s the message Dr. Eileen Trigoboff has been conveying to people in WNY, and across the world with her research, for decades.

She’s known as the “dancing doctor” because of the Victorian-era dresses she creates for various events around WNY.

She also volunteers.

And she teaches.

She also writes research papers and book.

Oh, and she’s an expert witness in court cases, offering some help pro bono.

But let’s start at the beginning.

“I went to a math and engineering high school, and what I wanted to do was work myself through college in order to get a full-time job, and they only gave scholarships back then to women for nursing or for teaching,” Dr. Trigoboff said.

She went to University at Buffalo three times. She got her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, then her Master’s and then Doctorate in Nursing Science.

“There’s not many of us in the country,” she said. “It’s different than a Ph.D., it’s a clinical doctorate.”

She worked at various places during the start of her career, but would eventually find her long-time home at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, where she spent 32 years.

There, she said she found joy in helping people during a time when mental illness was stigmatized and often went untreated.

“The idea that someone has a mental health diagnosis doesn’t mean it should be considered any less than a physical diagnosis — like diabetes and hypertension,” she said.

Unlike a physical injury, some may find an illness of the mind more difficult to treat. But not Dr. Trigoboff. She has excelled in finding answers for some of the toughest cases to come her way, supporting patients and their families along the way.

“To allow people to have access to somebody who either has the answer, or is willing to say ‘I don’t know the answer, but I’m willing to find out,’ I found that to be my biggest joy,” Dr. Trigoboff said.

“She’s a reasonable individual who is just grounded,” Celestine Simmons said, a long-time colleague of Dr. Trigoboff, and friend. “So when you go to her and have a conversation with her, it’s easy.”

Dr. Trigoboff eventually started her own private practice, helping people who have suffered greatly, even supporting them in court if that’s the way they want to go.

“She is empowering patients, empowering people who have the stigma of psychiatric illness behind them,” Simmons said. “She makes you seen.”

In a career that can be incredibly tough, Dr. Trigoboff has made it look easy. She shows others: if you need help, go find it. Help is out there. You don’t ever have to feel alone.

“Seeing the progress that people have made, and that they’ve moved on with their lives in these wonderful and happy ways — it’s very satisfying.”

Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor who came back home to Buffalo in 2018. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.

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