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Neurotherapy to Relieve Compassion Fatigue

Roughly 5.5 million of military and veteran spouses/ caregivers suffer from Compassion Fatigue. It is going unnoticed and untreated

Compassion fatigue is emotional and physical exhaustion leading to a diminished ability to empathize or feel compassion for others....the negative cost of caring. It manifests as lack of empathy, detachment, anxiety, depression physical and mental fatigue. Left untreated, it can lead to hypertension, addiction, a compromised immune system and even suicide.

Special Operations Forces (SOF) spouses are especially vulnerable to compassion fatigue, which likely contributes to the 40% divorce rate seen in SOF community.

The Solution

Research published this year in JMIR suggests the efficacy of app-based remote neurofeedback in improving mental health, ADHD, anxiety and depression. Whitehead et al, JMIR From 2022, vol.6, issue 7

This pilot program will leverage remote (app-based) neurotherapy to demonstrate success in alleviating symptoms of compassion fatigue, restoring health, improving quality of life and enhancing resilience in the SOF community.

Using a telehealth platform allows the program to scale while keeping costs and complications of in person therapy to a minimum. This allows for rapid deployment to the people that need help regardless of home or whatever setting they chose

Beyond the Pilot

Hampton Roads is home to the largest Naval base in the world and 16 other bases, including elite EOD and SEAL Teams, making it one of the most concentrated areas of SOF caregivers in the country.

Improving the mental health of the SOF community improves Hampton Roads and helps lead the charge in Virginia to address important military and community issues in innovative, non pharmacological, cost-effective ways.

The knowledge gained from this pilot will be indispensable in furthering its application for police, firefighters and healthcare workers who also suffer from compassion fatigue. A new survey (see appendix) suggests many first responders in Virginia are suffering in silence when it comes to mental health.

Providing access to this unique program will improve quality of life and help reduce attrition in these important positions in our community.

Neurotherapy and Neurofeedback

Neurotherapy is a non-invasive, drug-free intervention that includes talk therapy and neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback usually provides the audio and or video feedback. Positive or negative feedback is produced for desirable or undesirable brain activities, respectively.

Various neurofeedback treatment protocols train for alpha, beta, alpha/theta, delta, gamma, and theta brain waves.

Electroencephalographs (EEG's) have been used for more than 75 years to measure brain function (longer than MRI or PET scans). They measure electrical output of cortical areas and extracellular electrical activity in milliseconds.

Using EEG, a personalized neurofeedback protocol is developed for each caregiver to address specific needs.

The Process

Therapists conduct an intake with the caregiver that includes gold standard assessments, computer based cognitive tests and an EEG.

Once data is evaluated, a personalized neurotherapy protocol is developed.

Caregivers are given a personal neurofeedback device and set up and trained on the telehealth platform. EEG signals are used to control a clinically developed, computer-based program that "feeds back" input as the caregiver moves through the protocol.

Caregivers attend group therapy sessions and personal neurofeedback training. All is conducted and/or monitored by trained therapists board.

Upon completion of therapy and training, post therapy assessments and EEG are conducted. Caregivers attend an exit consultation to review results.

Caregivers keep the personal neurotherapy device so that they may practice self-care in the future

Meet the Therapists

Emily Thomas, Clinical Director

  • Virginia LMFT & Licensed Professional Counselor

  • Board Certified in Neurofeedback(BCIA)

  • 4th Year Ph.D. student in Applied Clinical

  • Psychophysiology at Saybrook University,

  • Quantitative EEG Diplomat Candidate (QEEG-DC)

  • 8+ years as EOD

  • 8 years SOF mental health provider

D. Joy Szafraniec, Clinician

MA, LPC, USN ret.

Goals of the Pilot Program

  • Immediately provide effective treatment for SOF

  • caregivers that will improve the quality of their lives

  • and reduce symptoms of compassion fatigue.

  • Collect data and adjust the protocol and program

  • based on outcomes.

  • Publish results.

  • Use results as grounds to expand the program for use by all Hampton Roads caregivers (military, veteran, and first responders) suffering from Compassion Fatigue.

QEEG Neurofeedback Biofeedback

Electroencephalograph (aka

Brain Map)

QEEG has been used for more than 75 years to measure brain function.

It measures electrical output of cortical areas and extracellular electrical activity in milliseconds

SPECT, FMRI, PET, etc. measure every four seconds QEEG is easily attainable, safe, quick, very cost effective. Noprescription is needed.

Quantifiable: we compare a patient's EEG to a normative database and then evaluate statistical deviations.

Shows connections that are integral to information flow and integration.

Hampton Roads Hyperbaric Therapy is a female, veteran owned, benefit corporation focused on a collaborative approach to healing and life optimization.

We have been serving the community since 2012 with evidence-based, non-

pharmacological therapies that help the body and brain heal after illness, injury or disease.

We primarily provide:

  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

  • Near Infrared Light Therapy

  • Neurotherapy

  • QEEG

  • Neurofeedback

  • Biofeedback

  • Individual and family therapy

We are especially passionate and experienced treating our military and veteran families and offer programs that address myriad issues these families face. We started the non-profit, Heal the Warriors, to help bring awareness to and funding for our warriors and first responders suffering from mTBI. The programs we offer include:

  • Neurotherapy for Compassion Fatigue (military spouses and caregivers)

  • Neurorehabilitation for Operator Syndrome ( specific focus on Special Operations Forces)

  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocol for mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and/ or PTSD

  • Neurotherapy protocol for mTBI/PTSD

A special thank you you to Hampton Roads Hyperbarric Therapy and Coastal Care Authority for your dedication to providing treatment for our EOD community!

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