In today’s episode, I’m excited to be speaking with Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. She is an integrative and pediatric mental health expert specializing in the field of neurofeedback therapy. Dr. Roseann is the founder and director of the Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health. She is also a Connecticut Certified School Psychologist, Board Certified Neurofeedback Provider (BCN), podcast host of “It’s Gonna Be Ok! with Dr. Roseann” as well as founder of Dr. Roseann LLC and creator of the new Neurotastic supplement line.
Dr. Roseann’s Extensive Background in Mental Health & Therapy
With over 30 years of experience working in mental health, Dr. Roseann has dedicated her career to helping children and families improve conditions like ADHD, anxiety, depression, OCD and various learning disabilities. She has always taken a holistic, natural approach in her practice.
Even from a very young age, Dr. Roseann knew she wanted to go into the field of psychology and psychiatry. When she was just 5 years old, a friend of her mother’s asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Out of the blue, Dr. Roseann responded “I want to be a psychiatrist.” Of course, later on she realized that psychiatrists focus more on medications, whereas psychologists utilize counseling and therapy. Nevertheless, this childhood premonition set her on a path to becoming an expert in children’s mental health.
Throughout her education and career, Dr. Roseann focused on gaining as much hands-on experience as possible. She actively volunteered and completed internships to refine her skills. She quickly discovered that her passion was working with children and families. Dr. Roseann found that she felt a deep sense of empathy for these clients. She also realized that when children receive the right help, their brains are extremely adept at absorbing positive changes. These changes can then last a lifetime due to neuroplasticity in the developing brain.
Dr. Roseann witnessed countless times how a child’s struggle became an impetus for the whole family to improve their mental and physical health. Once the parents saw improvements in their child from natural solutions, they became much more open to making changes in their own lives as well. In this way, the child’s difficulty actually became an opportunity for growth, change and healing for the entire family unit. This inspired Dr. Roseann to continue refining her integrative techniques to help children thrive and set them up for a lifetime of mental and emotional wellbeing.
What Is Neurofeedback? An Overview of the Process
Neurofeedback falls under the umbrella of biofeedback therapies. It takes advantage of the brain’s neuroplasticity or ability to form new neural pathways throughout life. Neurofeedback utilizes technology to train the brain to produce healthier patterns of brain wave activity.
In a nutshell, neurofeedback works like this:
The person is hooked up to a computer via electrodes on the scalp that can detect the frequency of electrical signals from different regions of the brain in real-time. The computer provides instant auditory or visual feedback when the brain produces the desired brain wave pattern. For example, you may hear a pleasant tone or see an animated figure on the screen. This positive reinforcement teaches the brain to repeat these types of beneficial brain wave patterns.
Over time, the brain learns to operate with healthier levels of activity in key areas. This can drastically improve symptoms. Then these healthy changes stick around even after the neurofeedback sessions end.
Some key points about neurofeedback:
- It has been around since the 1960s and now has over 3,000 research studies demonstrating its effectiveness for a wide array of conditions.
- It is non-invasive and has minimal side effects for most people when done properly.
- It creates lasting changes in brain function that persist even after the sessions are complete.
- Conditions that research shows neurofeedback can improve include ADHD, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, addiction, insomnia, traumatic brain injury, concussions, migraines and more.
- It has also been used for peak performance training in high achievers without health conditions.
- Typical sessions last about 30 minutes and are done 2-3 times per week.
- The average treatment plan consists of about 20-30 sessions over a course of about 6 months. But some people need more or less time.
- It can be done in a practitioner’s office or through home-based equipment and video sessions online.
QEEG brain mapping is necessary before starting neurofeedback. This allows to see exactly which regions of the brain need to be retrained. Then you can have extremely precise neurofeedback protocols targeting an individual’s specific needs.
Dr. Roseann shared an example of a client she has with chronic Lyme disease. The woman had been doing neurofeedback targeting anxiety, but her progress had plateaued. So Dr. Roseann ordered a follow-up brain map. She could then see that one specific area of the brain was still highly over-activated. Though this region was tiny, it was likely contributing to the stuck point.
So Dr. Roseann modified the neurofeedback protocol to focus intensively on calming down just this one small dysregulated area. On a follow-up visit shortly after, the client already reported noticeable improvements in her anxiety levels.
The brain is incredible in how specific interventions can create cascading benefits throughout the whole system. It is ideal to identify a practitioner who specializes in your particular condition to optimize the results.
The Keys to Successful Mental Health Recovery
Neurofeedback, while extremely powerful, is not a magic bullet on its own. We also need to learn new behaviors and lifestyle habits to replace ingrained patterns that contribute to conditions like anxiety or poor focus.
A regulated brain doesn’t automatically know what to do. We need both top-down training of brain activity itself with neurofeedback, along with bottom-up adjustment of daily habits.
For example, empowering parents with tools and strategies to improve their children’s focus or mood struggles. Relying solely on medications fails to provide these behavioral change tools. Similarly, neurofeedback alone also will not necessarily teach new behaviors.
We need to address the bi-directional relationship between brain activity patterns and ingrained daily habits. We need both aspects to see a lasting mental health transformation.
We also need to build a lifestyle that will support our brain and nervous system including:
- Stress management skills like meditation, breathing exercises, spending time in nature
- Counseling and processing trauma, grief or difficult experiences
- Prioritizing bonding time with loved ones
- Identifying and enforcing proper boundaries
- Cultivating hobbies and activities that bring joy and relaxation
- Learning to protect our nervous systems from excessive stimulation and input
- Letting go of negative thought patterns and self-criticism
Without these behavioral changes, it’s all too easy to fall back into dysregulation and reactive states, even if the brain has been retrained. The brain-behavior connection truly goes both ways.
Nutrition is another element that we need to address. Factors like blood sugar balance, hydration, gut health and food sensitivities play a major role in mental health.
Magnesium is one especially important compound for the brain and nervous system. Unfortunately, chronic stress depletes magnesium reserves quickly. Magnesium supplementation can provide fast improvements in focus, anxiety, sleep quality and more in those with deficiencies.
It is also important to address factors like gut inflammation, infections, and environmental toxins in order to resolve mental health conditions at their root. Mental health is not simply a matter of inadequate neurotransmitters or faulty brain wiring, though those do play a role. We must look at the whole system to facilitate true healing.
The bottom line is that mental health recovery requires consistently making ourselves and our self-care a top priority. Unfortunately, chronic stress has almost become normalized and expected today. Yet this level of strain on our minds and nervous systems is clearly unsustainable.
Even small but regular actions can add up over time to bring our nervous systems back into balance. This is protective against inflammation, cognitive impairment, emotional reactivity, immune dysfunction and so many other effects of excessive stress. Starting with as little as ten minutes a day of breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, journaling or other calming practices can work wonders.
When we model this type of self-care and stress resilience for our children and loved ones, it provides them permission to also take time to recharge and reset. Our close relationships thrive when we are fully present. Making self-care non-negotiable ultimately allows us to be more available for others.
We also need to view even small steps in a more positive light. Our culture often focuses on perfectionism and rapid transformation. But in reality, it’s consistent tiny changes, when done with patience and compassion for ourselves, that enable us to climb to new heights.
You Are Not Defined by Your Diagnosis
A diagnosis does not have to define our futures. There are countless reversal stories of conditions like autoimmunity, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression and more in people who were willing to believe in the possibility of change and take ownership of their own healing journeys.
A diagnosis provides important clues about where to focus our efforts. But it is not permanent or all-encompassing. We can decide how much power we give it over our lives. We always have the opportunity to learn more about what our bodies and minds might need to restore balance and function.
We need to reconnect with what our symptoms are trying to communicate. From this place of curiosity and compassion, we can then seek the right support to explore our root causes and the multifaceted steps to genuine healing.
Next Steps to Begin Your Own Healing Process
If you would like to learn more about Dr. Roseann’s neurofeedback programs and supplement line, you can visit her website here. You can also tune in to her podcast here. Her NeuroTastic supplements are available online here.
If you want to learn more about how stress and trauma affect us, and how to heal using Dr. Doni’s Stress Recovery Protocol® which involves optimizing cortisol and adrenaline levels using nutrients, herbs and C.A.R.E.™, my proprietary program to support clean eating, adequate sleep, stress recovery, and exercise, you can read all about it in my book Master Your Stress Reset Your Health.
For the most comprehensive support, even with the most difficult health issues (physical or mental), it is best to meet with Dr. Doni one-on-one, which is available to you no matter where you are in the world (via phone or zoom). You can set up a one-on-one appointment here.
I hope this overview presented some new possibilities for improving your own mental health or supporting loved ones on their journeys. Please know that healing is absolutely within reach. As we just saw, small steps add up to big transformations over time. You deserve to reclaim your best health and most vibrant, balanced life.
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Hong J, Park JH. Efficacy of Neuro-Feedback Training for PTSD Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Oct 12;19(20):13096. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192013096. PMID: 36293673; PMCID: PMC9603735.
Fernández-Alvarez J, Grassi M, Colombo D, Botella C, Cipresso P, Perna G, Riva G. Efficacy of bio- and neurofeedback for depression: a meta-analysis. Psychol Med. 2022 Jan;52(2):201-216. doi: 10.1017/S0033291721004396. Epub 2021 Nov 15. PMID: 34776024; PMCID: PMC8842225.