Improve Brain and Body Functioning in St. Louis

Happy Brain Counseling St. Louis Kirkwood Integrated Listening Systems

Happy Brain is pleased to offer Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) to the Saint Louis Community. This system is beneficial to children or adults with difficulty engaging socially, people who are recovering from trauma, those who deal with chronic depression or anxiety, people with chronic pain caused from stress, or those who have a difficult time regulating emotions, either being hyper- or hypo-aroused. We are offering two programs for reducing anxiety and to reorganize the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) that becomes overly reactive to normal stressors, called hyper-aroused, or when people become numb and unresponsive, known as hypo-aroused. The two systems are called Safe and Sound (SSP), and for those who want to continue the healing process, we offer the Calming protocol. We also offer systems for Focus and Attention, to support children or adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD or ADHD), and a system that promotes executive functioning within the brain and body, called Optimal.

We have noticed that children who are virtually schooling from home and are without regular social contact are developing a flat affect, often referred to as a blank stare. Happy Brain professionals have also noticed that adults suffering from chronic trauma or children who are suffering from high-conflict parents will transition from fluid expressions as they interact to a flat, expressionless, presentation that seems unable to make connections, resists connections, or seems overreactive and hostile. These systems will support repair to brain function, emotional regulation, and ANS response, and increase the ability to make social connections, have academic success, and regulate emotions and behaviors.

This iLs protocol for treating the nervous system is based upon the Polyvagal Theory, developed by Stephen Porges, PhD. The ANS is traditionally thought of as a two-part system, the sympathetic system, which fires up the body and ignites fight, fright, or freeze to protect the body, and the parasympathetic, which cools the body back down to homeostasis. The ANS was long ago discovered to regulate “digestion, respiration, sex drive, reproduction,” and the like. The Vagus Nerve was thought to be regulated by the parasympathetic, and that it is one nerve. It is now understood that there are “two quite different neural pathways that are both called “vagus.” The Polyvagal Theory begins by recognizing that the vagus nerve has two separate branches – two separate, distinct vagal nerves that originate in two different locations. We get a more accurate representation of the workings of the autonomic nervous system if we consider that the autonomic nervous system consists of three neural circuits: the ventral branch of the vagus nerve (positive states of relaxation and social engagement), the spinal sympathetic chain (fight or flight), and the dorsal branch of the vagus nerve (slowdown, shutdown, and depressive behavior). These three circuits…regulate the function of our inner organs,….our emotional states, which in turn drive our behavior” (Rosenberg, S., 2017, Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve). [See this article from iLs about the Vagus Nerve]

iLs uses neuroplasticity to recover brain activity. Neuroplasticity is “repeated stimulation of the nerve cells” to strengthen “connections while new information creates new synapses….The Focus System increases the brain’s capacity to efficiently process, organize and make sense of incoming information…..Specific, simultaneous and repeated sensory stimulation gradually trains the brain to process and respond to multisensory input from the environment more effectively…..iLs selects music that includes a variety of instruments. Stringed instruments are rich in overtones and harmonics that reach into the highest frequencies of human perception. Tympani, brass and woodwinds provide depth, add richness to the compositions and complement the frequencies of the string instruments” (iLs Focus Series Programs). To understand more about these processes, please see this article from iLs:

iLs scientifically proven programs are expensive. Happy Brain has created processes that make these treatments affordable to most people or families in our community. If a person is already being treated by other mental health professionals, this protocol would not require a transfer of care and Happy Brain professionals would be engaged only for the purposes of administering this technique. If someone is looking for mental health support, Happy Brain professionals could continue the care.

About Safe and Sound (SSP)

This system is used first and requires listening to musical sounds that are interwoven into popular adult tunes or Disney music for children for 30 minutes daily for 10 days. At Happy Brain we support compliance by using therapeutic support from the beginning to the end and loaned equipment for a small fee to clients. SSP is highly effective to increase “social engagement,” which includes engaging facial muscles to reflect emotional states and to encourage connection to the people around them. This is clinically indicated for use with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and has successful proven to be beneficial to children with Autism in two different clinical trials. This system will be helpful to children with academic difficulty due to inattention, with emotional outbursts or poor emotional regulation, and those lacking behavioral management. SSP would be helpful for adults with trauma, have a difficult time managing anger or that have outbursts of rage, and difficult making healthy connections, or with difficulties with attention and focus. Please see this video for more information about SSP:

About Focus Systems and Focus and Attention

The next systems are Focus, which uses sound, bone conduction listening systems, and movement to support the brain, such as cortex, subcortex, cerebellum, and the peripheral nervous system (PNS), which includes sensory, motor, and the ANS systems. Each iLs Focus System program involves four phases: Organization, Transition, Activation, and Integration. The Organization Phase uses music in “full frequency music with low frequency emphasis” and bone conduction for a period of time to improve “body organization, muscle tone, sense of balance, eye-hand and body coordination, integration of the body in space, sensory hypersensitivities, crossing the midline and spatial awareness.” The Transition Phase is a “bridge between” the Organization and Activation phases, using music with “gradual suppression of the lower frequencies” to help people with “difficulty adjusting to changes or transitions in their environment”, and to “shift easily from one activity to another and to tolerate unexpected changes.” In the Activation Phase, the music “includes high filtration levels balanced with various types of full spectrum music” “to initiate body organization and some changes in cognitive function” and designed to increase “initiative and motivation to start and complete tasks.” The Integration Phase uses frequencies “suppressed in the Transition and Activation Phases” and “challenges the listener’s increased processing capacity” but reintroducing “previously suppressed frequencies” (iLs Focus Series Programs).

The Focus System uses air and bone conduction headphones. “Air conduction has a greater effect on the cochlear system while bone conduction has a predominant effect on the vestibular system. The movement of the hair cells in the inner ear, in the cochlea and vestibular organ, convert the vibrations of sound, one form of energy, into electrical signals, another form of energy…..Listening is active. It requires ability, motivation, desire, and the intention to be engaged in taking in processing and responding to the information being heard….A good “listening ear” is one that both dampens and suppresses the lower frequencies of background sounds while simultaneously enhancing the ability to attend to high frequency sounds” (iLs Focus Series Programs). Focus and Attention System also incorporates movement and is supported for children and adults therapeutically. These systems help support adults and children with attention, focus, and active listening. Because this system requires 30 minutes a day for 80 days, we are scheduling sessions beginning May 2021 through the summer, when families have a more flexible schedule.

About Focus and Calming

The Calming protocol requires listening to programmed music for 30 minutes for 20 days with bone conduction. Bone Conduction (BC) headphones, use “a small device that converts sound to vibration,” and is located at the top of the headband, making contact with the skull. The vibration is carried along the skull to the bony housing of the ear. This process provides gentle vibration to the vestibular organ,” or the organ that “informs us where our body is in space.” BC is the “basis for the organization effect on the body” and is “greatest with low frequency music and least with high frequency music.”

About Focus and Optimal Performance

This protocol to stimulate Executive Functioning. These mental processes allow us to be adaptable and flexible to our environment. This functioning allows for working memory, mindfulness, self-management, and advanced logical processing. Optimal uses music and various bone conduction settings and requires 30 minutes a day for 48 days.

For more on the Focus System, please see iLs