Sober College Collaborates with Brain Detective and Neuropsychologist Dr. Michelle Conover

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Drug Rehab Sober College and the Southern California Neuropsychological group, headed by Dr. Michelle Conover, recently began a collaborative effort to better treat young adults receiving treatment from drug and alcohol addiction.

Dr. Michelle Conover of Southern California Neurpsychology

“Dr. Conover has helped us to better understand how to help the students. We can better help them learn both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Dr. Michelle Conover’s resume is long and filled with honors. Highlights include studying at UCLA, Pacifica Graduate Institute, Fielding Graduate Institute and working with all types of patients from PTSD victims to people with Alzheimer’s, and children to adults. She opened her private practice in 2003 with the goal of providing a better type of treatment. She explains, “Most neuropsychologists are specifically focused on testing and providing results. My practice includes various therapies, patient education and working on solutions. I realize I am a rare breed, but quality of care is so important to me.”

Neuropsychology combines the study of brain functions with knowledge of psychology. Dr. Conover and Sober College have worked out a relationship that allows each new student to receive a mini-screening. The screenings test attention, concentration, executive functioning, verbal and visual memory, and several other constructs. The assessments provide a snap shot of the brain, which allows Sober College’s treatment team to better help the student, and the student to be conscious of how they perceive the world around them. It is as if Dr. Conover is a Brain Detective.

Dr. Conover explained how neuropsychology can help train people’s brains to think differently. “Depression is comfortable and familiar for people with drug and alcohol addiction. I try and make them aware of this trend, give them a positive experience, and help them to see life more optimistically. Our brain tries to preserve energy, by taking familiar paths of thinking; therefore, causing us to repeat unhealthy and destructive behavior simply because we do not know another way to behave and think.” Dr. Conover helps students become aware of these trends.

Students are made aware not only of their positive thought processes, but also the parts of their thinking that is causing them to suffer or not live up to their full potential. Students are given practical suggestions, facilitating change in thought processes, which are applicable to daily living skills. According to Dr. Conover, “We need to give the brain something to anchor itself to. If an individual has difficulty organizing their time a common recommendation might be to cook more often. Cooking is a skill that requires organization and is something that Sober College students participate in on a regular basis.”

According to Sober College founder Robert Pfeifer, “What makes Dr. Conover so great for Sober College students is her understanding of young adults and wealth of knowledge about incorporating advanced technologies into treatment. College students these days are so techno-savvy that we have to be able to meet them at their level of interest.” In her private practice she tends to use some non-traditional brain fitness regimes. “I’m a real gamer”, Conover explained, “I like to use video games to try and help people work out their brains. It has proven to be very effective for my clients.”

Additionally, the Southern California Neuropsychology Group has been heading up the BEAMZ Project which combines music with a cartoon show and can include the use of a laser based musical instrument. The game and companion cartoon are meant to help provide a brain workout for young children. She is also working on a virtual reality game that will help returning soldiers that suffer from PTSD. The game allows the soldiers to create an “avatar” to guide them as they return to a regular lifestyle where social interaction can be anxiety provoking. The program challenges participants to interact outside of the virtual world to gain points to further their progress. The Southern California Neuropsychology group is definitely ahead of its time.

The collaborate efforts between Sober College and the Southern Neuropsychology Group have allowed students to gain a more relevant and sophisticated understanding of themselves that otherwise would not be available. Sober College Clinical Director Lori Cohen, LCSW, said, “Dr. Conover has helped us to better understand how to help the students. We can better help them learn both inside and outside of the classroom.” Sober College and Dr. Conover have been able to work together to create new and exciting treatment methodologies. The pairing of the two organizations seems to fit together with ease.

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ROBERT PFEIFER
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