INTERVIEWS with addiction and drug rehab centers: The Way Station

Continuing our new interview series, we talk to Brian Dooley of the Way Station in Orange County, CA a treatment center that uses neurofeedback to treat brain conditions including autism, ADD, ADHD, addiction, anxiety and depression. I was attracted by the treatment center’s pioneering use of biofeedback for addiction treatment, as the modality sits on the fringe of mainstream medical practice. We talk with Brian about their outpatient philosophy and the best practices Way Station uses today.

minute read

1. What was the impetus to start Way Station? What is its mission, core beliefs and how is it funded?

The impetus for starting the Way Station was a desire to improve the results of psychological treatment for addiction. The current relapse rate (for most inpatient treatments) is greater than 50%.

The mission of Way Station is to help the addict or brain injured person who still suffers; to serve those who feel hopeless or untreatable. We believes essentially that psychological treatment is more successful when the patient’s brain is functioning at its best. Many patients’ treatment fails because a brain injury is a partial cause of the addiction or self-destructive behavior. For many patients, the brain injury is a double dose of trouble; it is a partial cause of the problem and also inhibits treatment. Oddly, psychology is the only field of medicine that prescribes treatment without any evidenced based testing of the patient before, during or after treatment.

Way Station treats the brain as a major player in addictive behavior. An article in the Wall Street Journal has quoted research that showed that about twenty-five percent of the population has a brain injury. Surprisingly, most people who experience a brain injury are unaware of their injury (which was the case in my personal story) because it was long forgotten or not diagnosed at the time of the incident(s). I learned that a brain injury can be caused by alcohol use, drug use, a high impact car accident (even if your head is not injured) and PTSD.

The treatment facility is funded with owner’s capital.

2. How is the program managed? Any best practices you’d like to share?

Way Station treatment partners manage the neurofeedback and EMDR modalities of our treatment program. Some of our best practices are based on underlying principles:

1. We only treat individuals who we believe we can help based upon a brain map.

2. In addition to the brain map, we do a weekly outcome measure, the OQ45 necessary before, during and after treatment.

3. As the treatment proceeds, the patient has on going OQ45 evaluations. If the patient is not improving the treatment is modified.

4. If the patient does not improve, then we refund our fees.

3. What demographic of people are you trying to reach today, and how might that change going forward?

We only treat patients who brain map indicates that we can help them. We use a small facility of the treatment personnel and are looking for central facility. Going forward, we are constantly searching for improved methods of evidenced-based therapy with the goal of being the best of the best.

4. Do you search for partners, or are you focused on being a self-reliant program?

We have and continue to search for partners. Our concepts are unique and not readily accepted. We are open to partners who share our philosophy of best practices and with a desire not to be just a good facility, but a great facility.

5. What new programs or features do you plan for the coming months/years that we should know about?

A 2007 study showed that 89% of autistic children improved with neurofeedback. Recently, we loaned our equipment another facility to treat a child severely affected by autism. Our equipment is unique in that the child can be treated while watching a video (versus playing a video game, which is the method for most other neurofeedback equipment). The treatment was more effective than with conventional neurofeedback. We are slowly exploring this topic.

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About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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