Exploring the New Clinical Neuroscience Developments at Sovereign Health
Maria S. Spitz, Ph.D.
Director of Clinical Neuroscience
Dr. Maria S. Spitz joined Sovereign Health as the director of clinical neuroscience. Dr. Spitz oversees Sovereign’s neurofeedback program and clinical neuroscience services at both the corporate and individual levels. Dr. Spitz is a licensed clinical psychologist in New York state and California (eligible). Dr. Spitz earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in child development from California State University, Chico. She received a Master of Arts in psychology and Doctor of Philosophy in clinical psychology from the New School for Social Research in New York, NY.
We asked Dr. Spitz to discuss some of her experiences with assessing and treating patients with substance abuse, mental illness and co-occurring disorders, and some of the new developments in the clinical neuroscience program at Sovereign Health.
Understanding people and seeing the impact of social support on their lives is what inspires me. Support is crucial — having someone there cheering you on and being there for you, really makes a positive impact. Regardless of financial resources, it is clear that having a supportive network in place makes a big difference in patient lives and on their journey to recovery.
Support and environment
Support and the environment are hallmarks to doing well. The support we provide patients in treatment can only go so far. If they don’t return to a healthy environment with supportive people who support their recovery, they are not going to do well. That’s why we offer group therapy, yoga and different activities and interventions in treatment, in hopes that patients will seek out those types of activities when they get out in the real world.
Doing what works
We have received positive feedback from our San Clemente clients on our neurofeedback treatment, so now we are working on collecting tangible, empirical data on NFT. We are putting together a test battery that will collect base rate information from clients and evaluate their progress not only on the neurofeedback system but on all of the services Sovereign provides. Ideally, our test battery will assess and better understand patients when they arrive to treatment. From this information, we can tailor a treatment plan, guided by our findings, so that each patient will receive what they need from Sovereign and what works best for them to be most successful in their journey to recovery and treatment in general.
Expanding our services
We are working on expanding the neurofeedback treatment to Arizona, Rancho San Diego and Palm Desert. We recruited Dr. Dorit Iliani from Palm Desert, who has several years of experience working with military personnel in neurofeedback, Dr. Marilee Wasell from Rancho San Diego, and we are still working out the details in Arizona. We are going to assess the base level functioning of the patient, then re-evaluate the patient’s progress after treatment. We hope this understanding will further inform us on how to better assist the patient to a successful, long lasting recovery.
One of the major obstacles of providing neurofeedback at other sites is insurance. In San Clemente, patients pay co-pays or out of pocket for the treatment, because insurance companies deny coverage or reimburse very little amounts. Now that we have seen how well patients are responding to the neurofeedback program, we are going to offer insurance based treatment for patients at the Rancho San Diego facility, and work closely with insurance companies to help alleviate the burden of having to pay large amounts of out-of-pocket costs.
The patient needs to be actively engaged and invested in the neurofeedback program for it to work. Neurofeedback is only effective if patients are motivated and enthusiastic about the treatment. That’s why 12 sessions are mandatory to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient.
Improving quality of life
Improving cognitive functioning is important for improving quality of life. Cognitive treatment including neurofeedback is really something you can do to feel good about yourself. Of course, we are all going to lose some cognitive ability (i.e., memory) as we age, but cognitive therapy including neurofeedback is a tool to strengthen what you already have, so that you can go out and regain the life you had prior to current mental health and recovery challenges.
Learning from each other, staying on top of trends and continuing to research what is available, will help us stay up-to-date on the new innovations to treatment, the new waves, and gain a better understanding of what is and what isn’t working for our patients. Keeping informed is critical and we are doing our best to stay on top.
We are here to support our patients on their journey. It’s not going to be an easy one, but we’re very much invested in understanding them and tailoring their treatment to best meet their needs and be successful. Our goal is to help patients learn the skills and tools they need to better manage their lives outside of the treatment setting, the real world.