Rachel Crabtree serves as the Director of Trauma Therapy at The WellHouse. The WellHouse is a residential program offering emergency, short-term, and long-term care to survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Rachel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice, a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and is currently working on a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision – all from the University of Alabama. She is an Associate Licensed Counselor in the state of Alabama and a National Certified Counselor. Rachel has worked with survivors of human trafficking for two years and is eager to continue in the fight against modern day slavery.
Utilizing Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Sex Trafficking Survivors
- In this session, Rachel will discuss the impact of human trafficking on the nervous system, introduce neurofeedback as a treatment specifically tailored toward the nervous system, and explain how it can be practically integrated into the treatment of survivors.
- Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself and create new neural pathways and may be induced by utilizing computer-brain interface (i.e., neurofeedback; Gapen et al., 2016). Neurofeedback (NF) is an alternative therapy treatment that uses electroencephalogram (EEG) data to modify neural activity and may help with the treatment of PTSD by stabilizing EEG activity (Gapen et al., 2016; van der Kolk et al., 2016). In addition to addressing the psychological symptoms related to trauma (i.e., depression, anxiety), effective trauma therapies seek to address somatic symptoms such as sleep disturbances, eating habits, pain, fatigue, and digestion (van der Kolk, 2014). Huang et al. (2017) found individuals with mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) had fewer issues with post-concussive symptoms, including headaches, sleep disturbances, nausea, fatigue, and irritability after undergoing several neurofeedback treatments utilizing IASIS Microcurrent Neurofeedback (MCN). Similarly, in a study of 100 randomly selected patients, Larsen et al. (2006) found statistically significant improvements in problem areas such as anxiety, dissociation, pain, sleep disturbances, and fatigue after engaging in twenty sessions of Low Energy Neurofeedback System (LENS) treatment. Furthermore, chronically traumatized individuals who had little response to traditional talk therapy or drug treatments showed significant improvement in PTSD symptoms after twenty sessions of neurofeedback (van der Kolk, 2014). Neurofeedback therapy as an adjunct to cognitive and psychodynamic therapies could produce favorable outcomes in the treatment of developmentally complex traumatic disorders (Gapen et al., 2016; Fisher et al., 2016; van der Kolk, 2014). Counselors integrating neurofeedback into their practice have the opportunity to educate clients on the impact of trauma on the brain while incorporating an effective and noninvasive counseling intervention (Myers & Young, 2012).