The staff at Sierra Counseling and Neurotherapy are professionally credentialed and well-trained in the provision of psychotherapy for all age groups and diagnostic categories. Since we have been trainers and supervisors of psychotherapy for many years, we are experienced in most forms and schools of psychotherapy. The specific type of therapy which we use is based upon our analysis of client needs and preferences. We focus on empowering the client and giving them the tools necessary to initiate change in themselves. We serve as consultants and coaches throughout this process and provide the client with expert resources to meet their goals in the most efficient and brief manner possible. We are also prepared to deal with long-standing and chronic problems which require sustained efforts and more intense work. We are very committed to facilitating the client's development and self-determination throughout the therapeutic process and see this as an active dialogue with the client. When appropriate and requested, we have unique resources to support this process which include not only traditional forms of psychotherapy but also technologies which have been developed as a result of the exploding knowledge in neuroscience. Other areas of this website detail such technologies.
We are also experienced in helping with everyday problems of life and work. Such problems may include parenting issues, marital enrichment, career selection and decision making, work performance, or the adjustment to illness or disability. In addition, we offer psychological testing and assessments of memory and cognitive performance levels. Please see the Neurofeedback and Optimal Performance Training sections of our website.
We all have a family. Some families are biologically related (our birth family and extended relatives), some are legal (marriage, adoption), and some are our families of choice. Our families may look very different from one another, but they serve the same purpose --- our development of identity, our source of learning and values, and ideally a loving and supportive connection with others. Since we all belong to some type of family, whether we are presently engaged with them or distant, many of the problems we encounter throughout life relate to how we were raised in our families, how we are currently functioning in our families, as well as our expectations in our current families/relationships. In most cases, it is a combination of all of these. It is difficult to separate the person from the family.
The Marriage and Family Therapists at Sierra Counseling and Neurotherapy see individuals (adults and children), couples, and families. We also see divorced or separated couples who want to parent together in a healthy manner or who simply want to forgive the past and move forward with a better understanding of themselves in relation to others. We work from a “systems” approach, in other words, individuals are the fabric of a family, and as such, what affects the individual also affects the family. If one person in the family makes changes, those changes are bound to affect all members of the family.
Marriage and Family counseling helps people understand how their emotions are shaped by their families. Learning to integrate those feelings, beliefs, and thoughts into their lives today is accomplished through values clarification, improving communication, learning emotional regulation and anger management skills, identifying problem-solving and decision-making styles, and improving parenting skills. If a person is emotionally distant from family, exploring past relationships can change one’s understanding and perception of family and “self-in-family,” thereby enabling the person to live a positive future unencumbered by the past. We can’t change something unless we are aware of it. Therefore, an important part of counseling is identifying and exploring the underlying feelings that frequently drive our behaviors and interfere with logical thinking.
Sometimes we find ourselves “between” families/relationships. Marriage and Family counseling guides a person to reflect on self and past relationships, determine what changes are needed, and provides support during the transition to another more suitable relationship.
Additionally, our co-workers may seem like family to us and we tend to interact as family. If the work family is not functioning well, counseling can assist with improving communication and changing unproductive interactions. Examining one’s goals, imagining other futures, and getting feedback and support from the counselor can help a dream grow to reality.
Neurotherapy “should play a major therapeutic role in most difficult areas. In my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy it would be universally accepted and widely used.”
Frank Duffy, M.D.,
Professor and Pediatric Neurologist
Harvard Medical School
In recent years the field of neuroscience has experienced a phenomenal growth. Now articles frequently appear in the scientific and popular press about the latest advances in brain science. Funding and research by the National Institute of Health during the "Decade of the Brain" combined with the development of imaging technologies such as MRIs , yielded insights into the workings of the brain that were simply not technically possible a few decades ago. Although the field of EEG (electroencephalograph) biofeedback or Neurotherapy had its roots in the late 1960s, it has also benefited from the explosion of knowledge in brain sciences to greatly increase its scope and technological effectiveness. Combined with recent advances in computer science, it has been possible to move Neurotherapy from research and university laboratories to the clinical office.
The partners at Sierra Counseling and Neurotherapy were fortunate to enter the field at an early point. As experienced psychotherapists, researchers and professors, we were interested in techniques which could improve the effectiveness of therapy in addressing difficult problems. In the early 1990's research on a novel form of biofeedback for treating alcoholism and posttraumatic stress disorders was being conducted through the Veterans Administration and the renowned Menninger Hospital; results for this treatment were startlingly better than other forms of therapy. We sought out training from the staff of Menninger Hospital and thus began our 15 year immersion in EEG biofeedback. We had the opportunity to be trained by most of the pioneers and today's leaders in the field of Neurotherapy. Our early interest in the field has been well rewarded by the responses which clients have reported about their training experiences.
Our initial work was conducted using a form of Neurotherapy known as Alpha Theta which involved a shift in the state of consciousness to achieve its effect. Later, we incorporated additional methods of EEG training into our practice which reflected developments from the research and clinical experience in the field. These methods, which have been evolving for more than 3 decades, allow us to train a wide variety of symptoms including attentional difficulties, anxiety, depression, traumatic brain injuries, sleep disturbances, migraine headaches, and pain conditions among others. This year it is estimated that the field of EEG biofeedback will be employed around the world with more than 100,000 people for several million hours of training.
Our practice utilizes multiple types of state-of-the-art equipment and staff are trained in the very latest developments in the field. Our office is in a medical facility where, in addition to Neurofeedback, we use other types of biofeedback systems for training in functions such as heart rate variability, temperature, muscle tensions, coherent breathing and related peripheral functions. For diagnostic purposes, we utilize not only psychological testing but also cognitive and brain assessments including Quantitative Electroencephlographs (QEEG). Additionally, we employ a number of other technologies to augment or provide alternatives to neurofeedback. These include audio-visual entrainment, CES devices, and computer based cognitive training. Other technologies are added as clinical results and research validates their incorporation.
SCN views addiction disorders for substances as a product of a psychosocial and biological process. This process typically has a devastating effect on a person's emotional life, their self-regard, family, finances, physical health and ability to realize a future with happiness and stability. We recognize that it is difficult to reverse this process and return to a prosperous life but we also know that it is possible for every person to achieve change and renew their life.
We have found that our program of counseling, adjunctive treatment, abstinence, a desire to stop using addictive substances, along with nutritional supplements will enable a person to start and maintain a life of recovery, and actualization of hidden resources in one's personality and life style. Our program addresses addiction/abuse for substances such as prescription medication, street drugs, and alcohol.
We offer open group sessions based on a structured comprehensive program. Sessions are an hour long and address critical issues in living without alcohol or drugs such as anger, stress management, nutrition, spirituality, money management, relationship problems, sexuality, physical and emotional health, biochemical/physiological basis of addiction, and communication. These sessions also provide tools for relapse prevention, recovery motivation, and management of Post-Acute Withdrawal symptoms.
The individual counseling focuses on childhood and family experience related to substance use. It also involves an examination of a person's core values and how they influence their addiction process.
Chronic anger not only damages your relationships, it may damage your health. Research indicates that anger increases the risk for developing medical disorders and has an effect on blood pressure, cardiovascular reactivity, platelet aggregation, and coronary heart disease. Over time, particular types of anger can contribute to the progression of carotid artery atherosclerosis and also plays a significant role in depression, headaches and chronic pain. In addition, anger interferes with one’s ability to cope with life’s stressors.
Sierra Counseling and Neurotherapy offers an individualized anger management program based on one’s particular type of anger. A needs assessment is completed using the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory, and a family history and pattern of anger. The program is tailored to address the identified needs of each person. For example, some people verbally express anger aggressively while others may bottle anger up. Neither of these behaviors is healthy. Clients are taught to identify their symptoms of anger and learn to interrupt ineffective responses. Components of the program include healthy assertiveness, as opposed to unhealthy aggression, problem-solving, and understanding the positive versus negative aspects of anger. If desired, neurotherapy can be included and it is effective for reducing the intensity of anger and bringing it within a healthy range of expression.
Cardiac Behavioral Health is the application of specialized behavioral and therapeutic techniques to the prevention and treatment of heart disease, and to assisting the cardiology patient in developing effective coping skills in the adjustment to his or her diagnosis.
The Cardiac counselor seeks to enlist the patient's proactive participation in his or her own cardiac health care by:
Promoting behavior changes that benefit health, including adherence to recommended treatment, rehabilitation and follow-up.
Helping patients deal with issues related to their illness.
Effectively managing biological factors that influence cardiovascular disease. At SCN, we employ biofeedback and Neurofeedback as well as counseling to enable patients to manage biological factors which influence their cardiac status.
Sierra Counseling and Neurotherapy brings a blend of contemporary counseling and Neurofeedback to Cardiac Behavioral Health. Our clinicians are experienced in the application of therapeutic approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to the emotional and life style issues of cardiac disease. We also incorporate Neurofeedback protocols for addressing brain dysregulation (see the neurotherapy section of this website) and peripheral biofeedback to promote a more effective autonomic nervous system response to demand. Application of peripheral biofeedback involves coherent breathing training along with skin conductance training to modify an individual's sympathetic and parasympathetic balance under emotional and/or stressful situations.
Our Cardiac Behavioral Health approach also focuses on emotions, family dynamics, work demands, and life circumstances that influence cardiac events. Our staff has substantial experience in helping patients to more effectively address such issues.
''Stress Management' has become a by-word in today's society. We use it to explain why we feel irritable, or how a job is too demanding, why our life is unsatisfying, why we cannot perform well in academics or on the job, why our marriage is not working. Stress has become our most common explanation for problems we are experiencing. "Stress Management", however, has typically come to represent more of a desire than an everyday practice. There are many remedies available for stress, most of which are advertised as a method for management of stress. The program offered by SCN is grounded in neuroscience research and provides concrete results with realistic practices for everyday life.
Our program for stress reduction and maintenance begins with an assessment to identify the sources of stress which are unique to each person we evaluate. At this point we design a comprehensive approach to stress reduction which may include education, coaching in cognitive strategies, developing emotional and social support, exercise, diet and life style or career changes. Counseling is available to assist and support each person throughout the process. Biofeedback and related computer assisted technologies are also used to train heart rate, muscle tension, and other physiology to promote relaxation and quieting.
The unique aspect of our program is centered around the application of Neurofeedback for training regulation of the activation levels of the brain. The program focus is on training the brain to flexibly and resiliently adjust to the demands posed in today's challenging world. Neurofeedback offers a long term solution which enables the realization of organizational and other changes in lifestyle that are effective in improving the brain's response to stress.
Today psychology and neurosciences have much more to offer than just dealing with mental health problems and illness. New horizons are being opened through positive approaches to maintaining and enhancing well-being, emotional life, and many kinds of performance. Even as many people are discovering the benefits of going to the gym to exercise their bodies and building a program of physical wellness, others are now developing similar interests in mental and brain health. Such interest takes us into the exciting realms of optimal performance and brain fitness which draw upon the most recent developments in neurotechology.
Neurotechnology is giving us a new set of tools to train the most important component of any performance, the brain. As a result of developments in neurosciences over the last several decades, we know much more about the neurological components of performance and factors involved in maximizing that activity. This knowledge is being translated into practical technologies such as EEG biofeedback for training the brain directly to promote optimal states and activities to enhance almost any type of performance. The Italian Soccer team used this technology to give it the winning edge in the 2006 World Championships. Athletes, performers, business people, students, and anyone who wants to better meet life's challenges can profit from such training. At Sierra Counseling and Neurotherapy we have been employing neurofeedback for more than a decade to this end.
The impact of stress, aging and illness on memory, alertness, and attention is of increasing concern to many in today's population. Brain fitness is another area where neuroscience has much to offer. For example, recent research, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, involved a 5 year, 15 million dollar study and showed that it is possible to improve mental performance through a program of systematic training for the brain. There are now a growing number strategies for this purpose. Neurofeedback offers one of the most direct approaches for brain training and can be easily combined with related technologies as part of a well-rounded approach to health and mental well-being. Additionally, SCN also has available a number of cognitive training programs for exercising the brain in interesting and challenging game like activities.
All of our programs begin with an individualized assessment of current status and performance. This can be accomplished through interviews, specialized questionnaires or psychological tests and even computerized tests for memory and cognitive functioning. . Following this assessment, assistance is provided in setting specific goals for performance and then an individualized program of training is developed which can draw upon all of the specialized resources at SCN. We have a full range of cutting edge neurotechnologies including EEG neurofeedback as well as a staff that is experienced in all the traditional and psychological approaches to performance training.
Whether your interest is in sharpening your memory, making a good brain great or stepping up to the next competitive or artistic level, we are prepared to help.