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September 23, 2014

On September 1, the clinical team at Pacific Quest began a year-long training process to achieve site certification in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics™ (NMT), an evidence-based practice developed by Dr. Bruce Perry. NMT is a developmentally sensitive, neurobiology-informed approach to clinical problem solving (www.childtrauma.org). NMT training will develop capacity for clinicians to assess students using the NMT brain mapping matrix. From there, treatment interventions can be designed and tailored for each student to enhance brain functioning and relational health.

Why target the brain and relational health? More and more of our young people find themselves distressed, dysregulated, and overwhelmed by the demands of everyday life. They shut out people that care about them. They turn to alcohol, drugs, or a screen for fast relief from their emotional pain. Their search for belonging and excitement often leaves them alone and arrested in development. A better understanding of neurodevelopment and the teen brain can help us address these problems more effectively.

The teen brain undergoes developmental changes in stressor-sensitive brain regions at a time when the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed. Hence, their stress response system is on high throttle at a time in development when the part of their brain that helps them to “think first” is not fully on line. Although most young people weather this stormy time in life, those who enter adolescence with preexisting challenges do not fare so well. Young people with conditions such as anxiety, trauma, loss, chronic stress, or sensory integration disorders are highly vulnerable during this critical stage of development.

“I am thrilled to work with my team at Pacific Quest and the Child Trauma Academy on NMT site certification,” says Dr. Lorraine Freedle, Clinical Director and Pediatric Neuropsychologist. “Our Sustainable Growth™ model and mind-body techniques fit nicely into the NMT paradigm.”

Many students come to Pacific Quest because traditional therapy methods have not been successful. NMT recognizes that students with heightened stress response systems often need “lower brain” therapeutic techniques such as patterned, repetitive, rhythmic sensory experiences to help them develop the capacity for self-regulation. They cannot benefit from “higher brain” methods such as talk therapies until this fundamental work is done.

At Pacific Quest students are immersed in a sensory-soothing environment. With a foundation of optimal nutrition and exercise, students practice mindfulness and interact with the garden in restorative ways. They are progressively challenged through our camp system and work in therapy. Site certification in NMT will help our team use our enriched environment and clinical expertise more precisely, to create lasting changes in the brain.

Dr. Freedle is a certified NMT provider and trainer. Dr. Freedle shares, “Parents gain a deeper understanding of their child’s behaviors when they see the brain maps. By designing and pacing the right type of intervention at the right time, our clinical team elevates treatment effectiveness. Everyone wins, especially our students.”

As part of the NMT site certification process, clinicians at Pacific Quest will participate in case consultations with Dr. Perry and other trainees from across the globe. They will learn to use the clinical practice tools with fidelity, and complete over 100 hours of training in core principles of neurodevelopment and traumatology.

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