Episode 43: How Neurofeedback May Help to Rewire Your Brain with Leanne Hershkowitz, LPC
Episode 43: How Neurofeedback May Help to Rewire Your Brain with Leanne Hershkowitz, LPC
This week Alyssa sits down with friend, colleague, and Neurofeedback (NFB) clinician Leanne Hershkowitz, LPC. Leanne and Alyssa dive into some of the limitations of modern psychotherapy and how neurofeedback can help to fill in the gaps.
Follow Leanne on Instagram to learn more about NFB @theneurofeedbackgal
Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
Hello, everybody. Welcome back for another episode of the Light After Trauma podcast. I’m your host, Alyssa Scolari and we are talking about neurofeedback today. I’m so excited. You’re probably so sick of hearing me say that, but I mean it when I say that this is seriously one of my favorite topics. We have with us here today, a dear friend of mine, Leanne Hershkowitz. Leanne’s passion has always been working with adolescents and young adults. Combined with her passion for the outdoors, she became a wilderness instructor in 2004 for youth and adolescents in northern New Jersey. She then decided to take those combined passions a step further and pursue a career in counseling. Leanne received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the College of New Jersey. Woo woo. You know, I went to TCNJ too, right?
Leanne Hershkowitz [01:17]:
Alyssa Scolari [01:18]:
And then she got her Master’s degree and educational specialty at Seton Hall University. Leanne knew at this point that she wanted to find a place where she could hone her craft, while gaining more experience integrating innovative approaches. This took her to a residential treatment center in the Midwest where she specialized in the treatment of trauma, adoption and attachment through advanced training in dyadic developmental psychotherapy, as well as animal assisted and adventure therapy. Leanne has completed her certification as a therapy dog handler team with her cockapoo, Harley. Leanne has since furthered her understanding of neuropsychology and treatment of developmental trauma, as well as other diagnoses with the addition of neurofeedback to her practice. She is mentored by the one and only Sebern Fisher, author of The Fear-Driven Brain and renowned neurofeedback trauma specialist. She is currently pursuing her board certification in neurofeedback.
Alyssa Scolari [02:22]:
Leanne Hershkowitz [02:25]:
Hello. Thank you. Hi, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Alyssa Scolari [02:29]:
I am so happy to have you on here. To the listeners out there, Leanne has played a major role in my recovery from complex PTSD. And we’ll definitely get into that, but I’m going to turn it over to you first. I guess my first question for you would be, what is, because you talked in your bio, you use the term developmental trauma, what exactly is developmental trauma?
Leanne Hershkowitz [03:06]:
It is an attempt to be a diagnosis by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the leading researchers in trauma. It is really designed to replace in some ways, complex PTSD, RAD, a host of diagnoses that really are not real great and don’t really represent what people are going through. Developmental trauma is if you Google it, you can see the beta test version. It actually has enough research support to be a DSM diagnosis, but they told Bessel when they were putting out DSM-5, they have too many anxiety diagnosis, they don’t need another one.
Alyssa Scolari [03:44]:
Leanne Hershkowitz [03:45]:
And so it was excluded. That, he talks about it. That is how bad our diagnostic manual is and don’t get me off on that tangent, I’ll go out for 20 minutes before you get me back about how useless the diagnostic system that we currently have is. But this has actually attempted a pretty decent diagnosis that has different categories of impact of trauma on relationships, arousal, which is mood regulation, not the sexual kind. Things like that. Development, and it’s also historical about what the person’s experienced. For laypeople, the developmental trauma is really about trauma during your developing years. Birth, actually in utero counts 100%, in utero all the way through to, you could say 12, but I really would take it to 18, 20. Your brain’s not fully developed, I’m giving you air quotes, until 25. Within those developing years, but just know the younger it is, the greater the impact. That’s developmental trauma.
Alyssa Scolari [04:49]:
It’s basically this form of or another way of saying complex trauma.
Leanne Hershkowitz [04:55]:
Exactly. It’s just a flushed out diagnosis that’s not about necessarily flashbacks. It’s about kind of the whole constellation of symptoms that people with complex trauma tend to see.
Alyssa Scolari [05:07]:
Yes. Right. And the difference being, and for the listeners out there, if you want to learn more about developmental trauma or complex trauma, head back to some of the earlier episodes, I think it was maybe episode either two or three, where I break down kind of what exactly complex trauma is, but it’s so different in the sense that somebody can experience one traumatic event and develop PTSD, but it’s a whole different ballgame when you have significant, long lasting trauma in your developmental years. It fundamentally changes.
Leanne Hershkowitz [05:43]:
Changes your brain.
Alyssa Scolari [05:44]:
Exactly, exactly. Hence neurofeedback. One of the questions I have for you is how did you personally stumble upon neurofeedback?
Leanne Hershkowitz [05:58]:
I was first introduced to neurofeedback when I worked at CALO in Missouri, Change Academy Lake of the Ozarks, which is now owned by a giant conglomerate. But when I worked there, it was just one tiny little company with 20 students. And they had neurofeedback there, but the clinicians didn’t do it. They had technicians who were supervised doing it as a separate thing. And so I kind of had a rough idea that it was there. We had kind of always said like, “Oh, when we get some downtime, I want to try it.” But if you’ve ever worked in residential or been to a facility of such, there basically is never any downtime. You’re always working and working too many hours. I didn’t really, I just kind of had an awareness of it. And then I got very lucky that when I was leaving CALO and coming back to New Jersey, I made contact with a clinician named Kate Langhart and she said, “Hey, you want to come share some office space? I’ll help you get started with your own practice.”
Leanne Hershkowitz [06:55]:
That’s a whole nother story how I became a business owner when I never planned on it, but she did neurofeedback. And the more she told me about it, the more excited I got, the more I felt with the students I worked with that I was trying to regulate their nervous system, their emotional regulation in our sessions with my own nervous system. And that was burning me out too. I was exhausted from it because you do regulate your children that way, but you’re really not meant to regulate 25 adults or young adults that way every week. It’s running your motor too much. And so I was experiencing that fatigue, but it also wasn’t very effective because it only really worked when they were in the room with me. She was like, “Come on, you got to try it. You got to try it.” And so eventually I went and did my introductory course and just, it’s been a love story ever since.
Alyssa Scolari [07:52]:
I feel like that’s exactly what it is with neurofeedback. You and I met probably coming up almost on a year because we had a mutual client and we had.
Leanne Hershkowitz [08:09]:
Alyssa Scolari [08:09]:
Suffice it to day, yeah mutual family. Exactly. And there was something that you had mentioned to me when we were talking about it, this concept of neurofeedback, I had never heard of it before. Absolutely didn’t know a single thing about it. And you had told me, this was the first time that we met. You were like, “You need to go and read Sebern Fisher’s, The Fear-Driven Brain. And I was like, “Huh, I’ll do that.” I downloaded it on Audible and spent, because the book is so dense. It took me a while.
Leanne Hershkowitz [08:49]:
Alyssa Scolari [08:51]:
Wonderful. Took me a while to get through it. But with every passing hour that I listened to that book, I became more and more excited. And there was something inside of my body that was like, this is the piece that has been missing to my treatment and my recovery from trauma. And yeah, just kind of like you, it’s that love at first sight. Something I stumbled upon thanks to you. And I guess, could you explain, because I still have a hard time doing this and obviously I don’t have my certification in it at all, but could you explain, what is neurofeedback? I find that to be such a hard question.
Leanne Hershkowitz [09:34]:
Usually the way that I start explaining it is talk about biofeedback because that’s a concept that most people have been loosely exposed to, which is the idea that you can change your heart rate and your breathing rate at any point in time. If you’re given the feedback, you know those little finger things they put on you, the doctors or the hospital that shows you your pulse?
Alyssa Scolari [09:58]:
The pulse ox.
Leanne Hershkowitz [09:59]:
How fast your heart is beating. Yeah. You can do it with your oxygen saturation as well. You could actually do it with your physical body temperature in a specific location, too. These are all methods of biofeedback. One of them is heart rate variability, which teaches you to regulate your heart rate and breath. But meditation, all of that is around the heart and the breath. And if you get the feedback, okay, my heart’s beating a 150 beats per minute, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah. If you sit there and take slow, deep breaths, your heart rate will decrease and you can control your body.
Leanne Hershkowitz [10:35]:
The important piece to that is heart rate is technically an unconscious function. If you stop thinking about your heart, it still beats all on its own. That’s the difference between the brain and the mind. The brain controls things without our conscious awareness and will continue to do things, but the mind is our conscious thinking and therapy really targets the mind. But truthfully, most of what we deal with, especially in trauma is controlled by the brain, the unconscious parts that we don’t have access through through talk. Just like you can learn to use the feedback of seeing it on the screen. Okay, my heart rate’s a 150, I want to make it 90.
Leanne Hershkowitz [11:18]:
The same we can do for your brain. We put sensors in specific places to target specific brain parts, and that piece gets very complicated. But then we put feedback on the screen and your job is to change the screen, change your feedback. You can think of it like graph bars. You want to make them smaller or bigger depending on what we’re trying to do. And that’s actually you changing your own brain. Now it’s not as a conscious process to do that. You actually just sit and relax and let your brain kind of do the work because it wants the reward. It uses learning principles that way. And then your brain, which is ever seeking kind of a positive state, will try to figure out how do I get the reward? And it will make the internal changes to get there. It does always help to relax and take deep breaths because generally that’s what we’re trying to encourage. But yeah, hopefully that’s a good start to explaining it.
Alyssa Scolari [12:13]:
Yeah. It’s like, I can’t remember if this was something that you had said or if this was something that I had read in Sebern’s book, but it’s like, there are limitations.
Leanne Hershkowitz [12:23]:
Alyssa Scolari [12:24]:
I think we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the limitations of psychotherapy, modern psychotherapy. There’s so many limitations on it. Just one of them being…
Leanne Hershkowitz [12:34]:
Outcomes haven’t changed in 40 years. We’ve done thousands of hours of research and our outcomes are no better than they were 40 years ago.
Alyssa Scolari [12:44]:
Right. There’s no real progression in the fields. It kind of just is what it is and we’ve stalled in terms of psychotherapy. And while it can certainly be helpful.
Leanne Hershkowitz [12:57]:
It gets stuck.
Alyssa Scolari [12:58]:
It does definitely some people need to be in therapy for the rest of their lives. It can be expensive. It can be time consuming, it can also be retraumatizing. And it’s so much work on, like you said earlier, the therapist, because a lot of what, especially when you’re dealing with developmental trauma, the brain is formed in a way where you grow up not really learning how to regulate your nervous system. The job of the therapist is to co-regulate and help you, help you regulate. But when we’re seeing 25 people a week roundabout, it’s well, what happens to our nervous system as therapists?
Leanne Hershkowitz [13:43]:
Right. And you’re not in the developmental stage where co-regulation makes as much of an impact. I think it does still make an impact, but co-regulation is the developmental task of toddlers. You are no longer a toddler. One, your system is much larger and has much more complex problems so me regulating a toddler does not tax my nervous system in any way that it does. And I know this, I do it with my niece all the time. It doesn’t tax my nervous system in any way that co-regulating a full grown adult does. And it’s not as effective because you’re not in a developmental stage. You’re a full grown adult. Your brain is using it in the moment.
Leanne Hershkowitz [14:25]:
I don’t think it really absorbs it in a sense that it helps you change your brain. Maybe over thousands and thousands of experiences, sure. But I don’t want to say it’s futile. I don’t think it totally is, but its ability to create an opening for the brain and the attachment and regulation system to change with talk therapy alone is quite long winded. But what I love about neurofeedback is how it pairs with talk therapy because I can get a lot more done in talk therapy when neurofeedback is the regulating agent and I’m just the helper. And I love that pairing.
Alyssa Scolari [15:06]:
Yes, because it makes it so much easier on your nervous system as the therapist. But it also provides personally, it provided quicker relief than what I was getting in therapy, years of therapy. But then after one neurofeedback session, I could feel a change.
Leanne Hershkowitz [15:33]:
When you came to my house that first time.
Alyssa Scolari [15:35]:
When I came to your house, that first time, which was the best decision that I ever made. I think neurofeedback itself because of what it looks like, the sensors on the brain, people have concerns about it. People, it kind of looks a little bit scary. For whatever reason, the therapist I had at the time was just like, “Don’t do that.” Obviously I’m no longer with that therapist. And as a disclaimer, if any therapist tells you not to do something, get up, walk out of their office or shut the computer and don’t ever look back because therapists don’t tell you what to do, but that’s for another day. For whatever reason, that therapist was like, “Don’t do it.” And I was like, but something in my gut was like, I really want to do it so I went and I did it. And so the first experience I had, I think what did I do? Six minutes?
Leanne Hershkowitz [16:28]:
Yep. I think that’s all we did. It could have even been three.
Alyssa Scolari [16:30]:
Right, so six minutes. You might’ve started me at three because you want to start small because you don’t know, everybody reacts differently. And I came home. One of my triggers is car accidents. I have had a lot of traumatic car accidents in my life, have lost a lot of people, been in bad car accidents. And typically any time that I even come close, if a car gets too close to me, I go into a full blown panic attack. And I remember I was driving home. I was on the highway and somebody almost drove me off the road and I was appropriately alarmed, but I didn’t go into this place of, I have to pull over, I’m shaking. I can’t feel my limbs. My heart is racing. I am sobbing. None of that happened. And that was the first time that ever happened to me. And that was three, maybe six minutes of neurofeedback after years.
Leanne Hershkowitz [17:37]:
In a very particular place.
Alyssa Scolari [17:40]:
Yes. In a very particular place. Right. That’s just an example of what neurofeedback can do. Now can you kind of talk a little bit, and I don’t know if this would be too complex, but about the different spots on the brain?
Leanne Hershkowitz [17:57]:
Sure. Where we put sensors and how we pick training stuff is very, very complicated and we all have different approaches, different ways. And what I did that worked really well for you, somebody else could have done something slightly different, it could have worked very well too. In a lot of ways, almost anything we do in neurofeedback tends to work, but the places we choose on the head have to do with what networks and what brain parts we’re trying to affect. And what we know about trauma is it’s the base of the brain. It’s the limbic system and the sensory systems and actually our brainstem systems as well, that are so heavily affected.
Leanne Hershkowitz [18:41]:
Dr. Ruth Lanius has kind of pioneering a lot of the research. She’s studying it under the heading of PTSD, but that includes chronic PTSD and truthfully developmental trauma. Her research is great to look into, to learn more about those brain parts. And so where we put the sensors depends what we’re trying to affect. And one of the things that Sebern Fisher, she didn’t create it, but she has really pioneered it, is inion ridge training. Now that’s I-N-I-O-N not Indian. I’m not being racist. It’s inion, promise.
Alyssa Scolari [19:14]:
That’s what I said the first time. I was like, “Oh, the Indian Ridge.” And you were like, “No, no, no. Don’t say that.”
Leanne Hershkowitz [19:22]:
No. I make the statement every time I say it now, because if you don’t see it in writing, it does sound like I’m saying Indian.
Alyssa Scolari [19:30]:
Leanne Hershkowitz [19:31]:
But not enunciating. It’s inion. And it is for the inion ridge on the back of your head, which is a biomarker. It’s part of your skull. If you are to imagine holding a baby’s head, that is where your hand is and that is no accident. That regulating piece of the mother’s hand on the back of a baby’s head is extremely important for development. And it is symbolically and actually, but that is also where your cerebellum is. You can also through neurofeedback, kind of get towards the periaqueductal gray and the superior colliculus, which are all involved in your fear systems and connected to your sensory input systems. When something sets you off, like somebody swerves into your lane, what we now know is your sensory systems immediately lock into your fear systems. It bypasses all the other normal systems and goes right, we have a crisis. But if we can get those systems to calm down and be more regulated, you can have a more normal top of the brain.
Leanne Hershkowitz [20:39]:
Your top part of the brain is your thinking and logic for the most part. You can have a more normal response because the bottom part of your brain hasn’t hijacked the system. And that’s why Sebern’s book is called The Fear-Driven Brain because that system is designed, rightfully so, that when it thinks there’s threat to life or limb or psychological threat, we now understand, it hijacks your entire brain and it drives the show. But it also destroys your body in the process because all of the systems that take over during fight or flight are very taxing on our bodies and our brains, our immune system, everything. Our digestion, particularly as well. When it hijacks and it stays that way, which is chronic PTSD, you have fallout in almost every major system in your body.
Leanne Hershkowitz [21:29]:
To calm that, which is inion ridge training, can have a very fast and very profound effect. And it is one of my favorite training spots to do, but we also train things like the temporal lobes, which are kind of mood related. We chain, I’m pointing at the temporal lobes like you know what? You can see me. It’s above your ears. Also, top of the head, front of the brain. We train all over the place depending on what we’re trying to do. But for those of us who do work a lot with developmental trauma, chronic PTSD, we’re really focused heavily on that foundation, the fear system and the limbic, our reptilian brain, as it’s called sometimes.
Alyssa Scolari [22:12]:
When somebody starts neurofeedback, is it something like therapy that they have to do for the rest of their lives? Or is there an end to it? Or does it differ from person to person?
Leanne Hershkowitz [22:32]:
It definitely differs from person to person. We are still gaining the tools in neurofeedback to fully understand what we’re even doing in the brain, because neurofeedback is putting sensors on the skull, on your head. We’re not inside your brain. It’s like putting a microphone on the roof of a church and figuring out what’s happening inside the church from the roof or the side doors or the windows. You get what I’m saying. Now with fMRIs and diffuser tensor images, we’re starting to get a picture of the inside of the brain before and after neurofeedback.
Leanne Hershkowitz [23:10]:
Dr. Ruth Lanius does a study on alpha down training, which I get into more on my Instagram. And she was able to do before and after. And what she found out was that training actually affects an entire neural network that we’ve never known it did. We only know what symptoms it changes. We know when we train at inion ridge that we get vagal nerve function improvements, we get emotional regulation, we get lower fear responses. We do sometimes get grief, but controlled grief responses. We know what it usually affects those spots and what brain parts we think we’re affecting. But until more fMRI research is done, we don’t actually know what we’re affecting. Now I’m trying to remember your question. God, I was going round about to it and then I forgot it.
Alyssa Scolari [24:01]:
It’s fine. I was asking, is there a endpoint to it.
Leanne Hershkowitz [24:05]:
Oh longterm. Yes.
Leanne Hershkowitz [24:07]:
Yeah, yeah. Is this something that people have to do for the rest of their lives?
Leanne Hershkowitz [24:11]:
Right now people do tend to probably do more than they will 10 years from now, because in 10 years we will know so much more about what we’re doing that we’re going to tailor what we do very individualized medicine that it’s going to work better and faster. And we’re on that road already. Right now though, it usually takes people, like you ended up getting lucky that the first neurofeedback person you met was one who happens to do the specialty for what you were struggling in. But other people don’t. Sometimes they go to a practitioner who does lots of just ADHD and regular anxiety, regular depression. Not that those can’t have challenges too, but it’s a very different brain. And they’ll have an experience where it can actually make them worse, not better because the person doesn’t understand the traumatized brain.
Leanne Hershkowitz [24:57]:
And so sometimes it takes people two or three tries, practitioners to get the right approach. And then there are complex conditions that neurofeedback can affect. There are things more complicated. In a general sense, it’s typically if you’re doing kind of run of the mill normal neurofeedback training for developmental trauma, complex PTSD, you’re looking at probably a year to two years of really solid training to get to a very good place and that’s more cost effective with home use than in the office. I’m working with Dr. Rob Coben to do, what’s called multivariate coherence training, which takes a brain map so there’s more upfront cost, but it works in 12 to 18 sessions and you might need two or three brain maps and rounds, but that’s about, you do it twice a week so that’s less than a year profound changes.
Alyssa Scolari [25:57]:
Yes. I have a client right now who she did the brain map, which is quite literally what it sounds like. It’s the map of your brain that tells them exactly kind of what work needs to be done and what parts of the brain. And she has been doing it for less than a year, twice a week. And she, in terms of her nervous system, I see zero anxiety. Zero anxiety. Got out of an abusive relationship.
Leanne Hershkowitz [26:31]:
Alyssa Scolari [26:33]:
Just life changing. Really what you’re saying is it absolutely depends. Depends on the clinician.
Leanne Hershkowitz [26:38]:
Alyssa Scolari [26:39]:
Depends on the person, depends on everything.
Leanne Hershkowitz [26:42]:
Depends on the complexity of the issue. It also depends on comorbidities with physiological issues. I’ve been battling toxic mold exposure and a tick parasite and that has really complicated things. Heavy metal exposure, different things in your environment, diet, all that stuff can also slow down the progression because your immune system is active in your brain. The old thinking that your immune system does not go into your brain, it’s not true. New research indicates your immune system goes in your brain. What’s happening in your body deeply affects the ability for your brain to regulate and heal itself.
Alyssa Scolari [27:22]:
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And the more that I’ve learned about neurofeedback and all the ways it has helped me and it truly has helped me from my sinus symptoms, to being able to get off all of the medication that I was on, to just all of the flashbacks, it has helped so much. The one thing I always wonder and I think I have some of my own theories about this, but why is this not a more, and I think we might’ve discussed, we might have the same exact theory because we might’ve talked about this before, but why in the hell isn’t this blasted everywhere?
Leanne Hershkowitz [28:14]:
Well, the conspiracy theory is is because pharmaceutical companies run our industry and this makes them no money. But somebody is going to come for my head for saying that one out loud, but I’m going to say it anyway, because it needs to be said. And I’m not important enough for anybody to come for me.
Alyssa Scolari [28:33]:
Leanne Hershkowitz [28:34]:
I think that’s the easy answer. It’s not the full answer. We also don’t have the technology to prove what we’re doing, which makes people a little scared of it.
Alyssa Scolari [28:44]:
Right. Because a lot of it is mostly theoretical right now.
Leanne Hershkowitz [28:47]:
Yeah. We have EEG, which is reading the brainwaves, reading the electrical activity from the top of the church, the top of the head or all over the head, but we can’t go cutting people’s brains open. And the double blind kind of gold standard is very expensive so our research studies tend to miss the mark. We are getting there like Dr. Ruth Lanius has a lab in Canada, which is funded so they’re able to do double blind control studies, but that’s very rare in neurofeedback research because my software company, the EEG Store is very small. They don’t have research money. In fact, they don’t even have any funders. They just have clinicians buy their stuff. That’s how they get money. Who’s going to fund a double blind research study of a 1,000 participants? Nobody. The field doesn’t have that kind of money and we don’t have the backers get that support.
Leanne Hershkowitz [29:43]:
Insurance companies, it’s a crapshoot whether they’ll reimburse for it. Certainly very rarely covered in network if ever. Out of network’s a crapshoot. I think these obstacles to getting kind of official recognition, make it harder to get it out to people. And then implementing it requires clinicians to go from psychology, like me, to applied neuroscience and a lot of applied neuroscience. And that’s a big jump and a lot of clinicians are not excited to do it. And there’s no manualized approach. I shouldn’t say that. There are some, this is personalized medicine. It shouldn’t be manualized. It needs to go through a human brain, not so much a computer system.
Alyssa Scolari [30:29]:
Right, right. It can’t be manualized.
Leanne Hershkowitz [30:32]:
There’s too much to take in. A computer just can’t do the work that a human can do.
Alyssa Scolari [30:38]:
Leanne Hershkowitz [30:39]:
That is the list of problems. And I could probably come up with some more that makes this not more widely available. It’s also expensive. The equipment’s not cheap.
Alyssa Scolari [30:49]:
Right, right. I was going to say, that’s the other thing is it can be rather expensive. But I always look at it as like, when you look at what you could potentially be saving in therapy costs. Especially if you see an out of network provider, then it’s kind of a big upfront cost. But at the end of the day is saving you tons of money in what could potentially be decades.
Leanne Hershkowitz [31:11]:
I ran the numbers.
Alyssa Scolari [31:13]:
Ah, you have. Okay. Yeah, I’m sure. I’m sure it saves so much money.
Leanne Hershkowitz [31:21]:
And I just ran the numbers for in home use versus in the clinic, in the office use and that’s a huge savings. Over one year, it’s mild savings. Over two, three years, depending on how you end up using it, it’s huge savings. And then if you’re not having to go see a therapist more than once in a while, that’s another huge savings on top of it. Plus medication that you’re saving on, potentially other medical bills, all that stuff.
Alyssa Scolari [31:47]:
Right. Because for me, as I started to do neurofeedback, I was able to come off all of the medications, the psychotropic medications that I was on because my brain started to finally fall into place. And so I haven’t needed the medication anymore. And I just want to clarify, when you say at home use, what you mean is it’s a possibility for people to find a clinician who will authorize them purchasing the equipment and will see them throughout it. This is not something people can go out and just buy on their own.
Leanne Hershkowitz [32:32]:
With the system I use, that’s correct. There are systems you can buy yourself and try to DIY it. If you have trauma, I strongly don’t recommend that. It will most likely not go very well. But yes, you do for in home use with trauma, you want to be whatever system I use EEGer, but that doesn’t have to be, there are other systems too. You want to work with a provider who has spent their career understanding the effects of trauma on the brain, because the ways it goes haywire are going to be worse than what you’re already dealing with. Yes, definitely. It’s not a DIY at home. It’s a clinician who sets you up and checks in with you and make sure everything’s going well and make changes. You just do the actual, put the sensors on and stuff at your own home. And you can do it two to three times a week in your own home rather than having to come into the office and pay for my time two to three times a week.
Alyssa Scolari [33:29]:
Right. Now, so for the listeners, if somebody is listening at home and they’re like, okay, this sounds amazing. I really want to do this. What’s the first step that they take? Do they just kind of Google neurofeedback clinician near me? Is that what they would do?
Leanne Hershkowitz [33:46]:
That’s the biggest gap. It’s one of the big gaps in our field right now, especially in trauma is we don’t have a Listserv of trauma clinicians, trauma informed clinicians, which I’m actually starting to work on a Google form that everybody I know, and we can pass it on, can add their information in so that, that can be available. Right now, it’s a lot of word of mouth. If you’re in New Jersey, you can certainly contact me. The hard part is in the US we can’t practice in states we’re not licensed in, not for trauma so that makes things extra complicated.
Leanne Hershkowitz [34:21]:
You can go on bcia.org. And that’s a listing of board certified neurofeedback providers. And you can ask them about their experience with trauma. Are they aware of Sebern Fisher and try to gauge their responses. As a trauma informed clinician, if somebody says, “Oh, I don’t believe in her approach. And that stuff is bunk.” I’d go somewhere else, they should at least have an acknowledgement and understanding that she knows her stuff. I’ve only run into that once, but you never know. That EEGer had a clinician listing as well. But over the pandemic, they’re trying to revamp a bunch of stuff so that’s not up and running right now. I will be honest that that is one of the biggest challenges.
Alyssa Scolari [35:10]:
That’s one of the hurdles.
Leanne Hershkowitz [35:13]:
We’re not an organized field.
Alyssa Scolari [35:16]:
Well, it’s still so new. It’s still so new. I can’t wait to get started.
Leanne Hershkowitz [35:21]:
It’s been around for 30 years.
Alyssa Scolari [35:24]:
Yeah. But you know what? How long has psychotherapy been around? It’s been 40 years since we’ve made any kind of progress in psychotherapy.
Leanne Hershkowitz [35:33]:
Well psychotherapy has been around since Freud. I don’t know, did it come before Freud? How long ago was that?
Alyssa Scolari [35:39]:
I don’t know.
Leanne Hershkowitz [35:43]:
But 30 is still relatively new in this world, but I truly think it’s that our generations, us, oh, I hate to say I’m a millennial because I really am at the very cusp of that. But we’re comfortable with technology. It’s not weird to stick things on our heads. We’ve been poked and prodded and tested and we stick phones and all sorts of devices on ourselves all the time.
Alyssa Scolari [36:04]:
Yeah, we’re cool with that.
Leanne Hershkowitz [36:04]:
Why not fix our brains that way? I think that it’s not hijacking your medical treatment. There’s a term for biomedical devices that we’re all comfortable with now. I think it’s biohacking ourselves is what it’s called. And millennials and younger are very much more comfortable with that than other generations.
Alyssa Scolari [36:25]:
Yeah. Yeah. We’re more comfortable with technology. One of the things that you also do is you create a lot of free videos for people to be able to go and learn more about neurofeedback. If people want to find some of the stuff that you do, where can they find you at?
Leanne Hershkowitz [36:44]:
I’m @theneurofeedbackgal. You can also put my name into Instagram and both my personal and my professional will pop up. I can only accept you on my professional. My personal is only for people who have met me IRL, but you can put my name in or you can put @theneurofeedbackgal.
Alyssa Scolari [37:06]:
Awesome. And I will link the Instagram handle in the show notes. For those of you who are interested, you really should go and give Leanne a follow on her Instagram because the videos that she does are really incredible and they’re very, very helpful. Thank you for sharing what I consider to be one of the biggest secrets to healing developmental trauma that people don’t talk about. Yeah, thank you for sharing that.
Leanne Hershkowitz [37:35]:
I 100% agree. Yeah, you’re welcome. Thank you for having me. I will talk about neurofeedback forever and ever to anybody who will listen because not enough people know and many people need it.
Alyssa Scolari [37:46]:
I know I love your passion for it.
Alyssa Scolari [37:50]:
Thanks for listening, everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram we are @lightaftertrauma and on Twitter it is @lightafterpod. And if you’re on Facebook, please be sure to join our Facebook group. It is a private community where trauma survivors are able to connect and chat with one another. That Facebook group is called Light After Trauma so just look us up on Facebook and be sure to join. Lastly, please head over to at patreon.com/lightaftertrauma to support our show. We are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Please head on over. Again, that’s patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you and we appreciate your support.
Speaker 3 [38:41]: