On the right you see a cornfield, then a green bean field, another cornfield, some other crop, a bigger crop, a big open space, a barn, a little farm house, a big farm house and the cycle repeats, again and again.
Anyone who has ever driven I-80 any long distance, especially from Chicago going east, will testify to the monotony and beauty of the trip. The peaceful journey through farmland was a sharp contrast to the intense, fast-paced conference on innovations in neuroscience and treatment at my Cleveland destination.
Recently, I attended a 5-day Cleveland conference on the Quantitative Electroencephalograph (QEEG), Live Z-score training, BrainAvatar® and more. These are all big terms for methods of “brain training” in my practice to help clients with peak performance. The course was taught by a team of neuroscience rock stars including neurologist Dr. Harry Kerasidis, MD, New York psychotherapist Mark Smith, and Dr. Tom Collura, bioengineer and chief inventor of Brainmaster – one of the largest providers of brain imaging and neurofeedback equipment. Complete with about 50 students, it was a room full of passionate brain geeks and experts in the field of neurofeedback. A guy sitting next to me coined it perfectly: "heaven for neuronerds...like a Trekie conference for Star Trek fans."
The reason for my trip was pretty simple. About two months ago, I added BrainAvatar® to my brain training tool chest. The Avatar, as it’s affectionately referred to, is a hardware and software technology combination that will allow us to create our own brain scans in the office as well as do more sophisticated neurofeedback training. After I got the equipment, even with the help of my trusty mentors like Dr. Kathy Abbott, I realized there is soo much to learn. Suddenly, a 5-day intensive conference seemed like time well spent.
After just the first morning, I knew for sure my trip decision was a good one. The synergy was amazing. It was exciting to spend time with these teacher experts and a whole group of fellow or future neurofeedback practitioners. My colleagues included physicians, family therapists, clinical psychologists and even an electrical engineer or two. They came from as far as South Africa, Canada (Saskatoon, a smaller town where I actually have a cousin) and scattered from practices across the US and Mexico. The binding thread in the group was a deep commitment to finding and using tools that would truly make a difference with our clients.
My learnings included how to use the brain imaging features to map out best treatments to target a patient’s concerns and using neurofeedback for a number of issues. These include enhancing sleep (something we so need that can be elusive at points), reducing anxiety, and developing a sharper focus, even for those with ADD symptoms. It was fascinating, fun, and I’ll be honest, exhausting at points, but the learning and relationships made it well worth it. I came back on a Sunday with Avatar on my laptop computer all programed with training protocols for each client and began using them on Monday.
So, that’s a highlight from my summer. We all need vacations: time away to do things different from our day-to-day lives, experience new challenges and connect with ourselves and others. Though mine involved my work, it certainly provided some bliss, challenge and connection. Hope your summer has had many of these key elements and, if not, that you’ll take the opportunity with the little bit of summer we have left.