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 is responsible for overseeing the neurofeedback program at Sovereign Health as well as the continued development and oversight of the company’s 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 a Bachelor of Arts in child development from California State University, Chico, and a Master of Arts in psychology and Doctor of Philosophy in clinical psychology from New School for Social Research.
We asked Dr. Spitz to discuss some of her personal experiences with assessing and treating patients with substance abuse, mental illness and co-occurring disorders, and some of the upcoming developments in the clinical neuroscience program at Sovereign Health.
Eclectic, holistic approach
My approach is eclectic, but dynamic as well, because everyone is very different. Gaining insight into the types of things that prompt your thoughts, feelings and actions opens you up to understanding yourself, which is essential for implementing changes in your life. That goes for anyone — before you can really make a change, it is important that you understand what is really going on at the bottom level.
The new wave in treatment for substance abuse and mental health has been the movement away from the medical model and prescribing drugs, and movement toward more of a holistic and non-pharmaceutical approach, which is why neurofeedback is so great. Although it works in conjunction with other therapies, neurofeedback is more holistic because it doesn’t involve any type of medication management or blood tests to make sure you fit a specific profile. It is for anyone with anxiety, trauma and really any type of distress.
A lot of clients with substance abuse issues come from a trauma background. Neurofeedback is really good for them because it is not imposing on their physical body — it’s more on a brain level, a psychic level, because it goes with the way your brain is working now. It teaches you how to retrain your reactions to different stimuli by showing you feedback through a computer system.
In order to tailor a treatment specifically for your clients, it is important that you get to know them first before looking at any additional, collateral information. You really have to understand them to pick the treatment modalities that will best help them at that specific point in time. We are going to start assessing patients and the neurofeedback program with a test battery to see how well we are able to tailor treatment to the patients. This battery of tests will not only identify symptoms, it will assess patients’ personality traits to determine what treatments will be most effective for each particular person. This comprehensive test battery can be used by the treatment team when they are designing a treatment plan to understand patients from the very beginning, so we can get the best possible success rate here at Sovereign with our patients.
Growth, assessment and unification
My top three priorities this year include growth in the neurofeedback and nontraditional treatment programs, assessing the progress of our patients and the effectiveness of our treatment, and coordinating and unifying all the different sites by communicating and making sure that everyone has the same vision. Unifying our delivery of treatment, assessment and general treatment modalities will earn Sovereign further recognition. Furthermore, providing uniformity in treatment will ensure patients receive similar, above standards treatment no matter what site they enter.
Doing what works, staying informed
Patients should come to our treatment programs based on our ability to find what works best for patients and make it affordable for them. We are continuously researching what is available and the latest technologies, staying informed and gaining insight and feedback from the psychiatric and psychological community. We want to be able to find out what is working, what is not working, and what has been empirically proven to work. Staying informed is critical and we are doing that on all levels of care.
Growth through feedback and collaboration
Without feedback on our work, we cannot progress. For example, the neurofeedback program, is ever-changing and you need to be able to adapt. Everyone’s input and feedback is important — from the intake person to the high level coordinator — because their views of the patient and system are completely different. If we can see both the patient and the system from all different angles, we will be better able to improve it, maintain what is working and change what is not. It is a collaborative effort. The best work will come when we work collaboratively and as a team.