Dr. Mari Swingle is a neurotherapist and behavioral specialist who lives and works in Vancouver, BC. In this interview, Mari talks about her method of neural treatment, which uses EEG technology to diagnose and work with mental illnesses, stroke, and other physiological and emotional problems. She discusses building a busy clinic with her father, and the speed of technological change in her field.
[1:40] Mari explains what she does as a practicing therapist, how she uses a blend of applied psychology and neurology. She works with EEG as a modality, searching the brain for areas of efficiency and inefficiency. Attention, depression, anxiety—she can see these and other brain functions and patterns.
[2:45] Mari’s father is also a psychologist. She talked shop with him one Thanksgiving, many years ago, and they decided to work together. She and her father now run a clinic together.
[5:08] Mari explains the technology she uses to look at brain waves, and how she interprets the data. Electrodes are attached to the scalp. Delta waves and theta waves are the slow waves, which are important for reaching quiet states—creativity in children, sleep and stress mitigation. Beta waves relate to attention. Gamma waves are connected to hyper-vigilant attention.
[8:05] Mari thinks the main reason for her practice’s success is the way she and her colleagues train brainwaves to work more efficiently, with the EEG. Generally speaking, the younger you are, the faster the treatment. Neurophysiology and emotional baggage are both part of what must be treated with adults—kids don’t have the same long storylines of failure.
[10:07] Mari sees patients with family dynamic problems, learning and behavioral issues, anxiety, depression, post-stroke, and closed head injuries. When she and her dad started the clinic, they had a reputation as an “end of the line” clinic—now they’re treating more standard issues.
[11:48] Mari states that everything related to the body and body function has a brain genesis.
[15:50] Besides the clinical component to the practice, Mari also helps clients with peak performance. Sometimes, once a child has been treated such that they’re out of clinical care, the family chooses to continue on with peak performance. Many adults go to her clinic just for this reason.
[17:50] Mari uses different forms of technology that show brain wave patterns from the upper portion of the cortex (electrodes on the scalp), but there are other technology forms that reveal deeper imagery (like a cap with many electrodes).
[20:00] Mari and her dad started the practice in 1997, in a small one-room clinic.
[20:57] Mari says that manipulating brain waves can go terribly wrong unless the person working on your brain really knows what they’re doing. There’s only voluntary regulation of the practice in Canada right now.
[23:40] Mari discusses some of the finer points of brain wave therapy.
[24:50] 23 people work in Mari’s clinic, a combination of psychologists and neural technicians. They have a very long waiting list. They’re looking at new office space now, and they’re hiring.
[25:30] Employees in the clinic work on a rotation. Patients see a primary therapist for the initial assessment and then work with a neural technician, under the lead therapist’s directions.
[27:36] Mary states that when PTSD occurs the brain locks on something and can’t process. This was discovered with Vietnam vets. In Mari’s practice, trauma patients don’t need to talk with the therapists about their trauma, because she can see the damage in the brain scan. Talk therapy is optional.
[28:50] When Mari started her practice, patients spread the word. Now physicians are referring people, and they have clients from around the world, many referred via word of mouth.
[31:20] Mari and her dad both present at conferences, and write professional articles. Mari has a book, iminds: How cell phones, computers, gaming and social media are changing our brains, our behaviors, and the evolution of our species. The book is about how electronic screens interfere with brain waves. She has data on brain waves from before screens were widespread and data showing the differences.
[34:33] Mari says that while building her business, she only had “good” problems. She’s making changes to take better care of her self—something many healers struggle with.
[37:29] The ability to say, “no” has been the biggest challenge for Mari, as well as finding a life-work balance. She paints and writes in her down time.
[38:40] On average, Mari’s practice sees 250-300 patients a week. Each patient is seen for 50 minutes.
[40:56] Mari would like the business to run more smoothly, but the technology changes so fast that the business must constantly adjust.
[43:33] Canadian Association for Family Enterprise (CAFE) saved Mari and her father’s relationship, and their business, she says. The soft issues—when is she a therapist vs. a daughter, or a manager—are harder to work through than the larger business issues. Keeping work and family issues separate are crucial, and a support network is very helpful in navigating this area.
[48:11] Mari’s business advice to people just starting out: listen to all of those who have walked before you, accept council from people who know what they’re talking about.
BIO – Dr. Mari Swingle – Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Mari Swingle is a neurotherapist and behavioral specialist who practices at the highly-regarded Swingle Clinic in Vancouver, BC. She holds an MA and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, an MA in Language Education, a BA in Visual Arts, and has won numerous awards for her post-doctoral work on the effects of i-technology on brain function.
Mari is the author of i-Minds: How Cell Phones, Computers, Gaming and Social Media Are Changing Our Brains, Our Behavior, and the Evolution of Our Species. Dr. Mari is a 2015 Winner of a Federation of Associations of Brain and Behavioral Sciences (FABBS) Early Career Impact Award for her ‘major research contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior’… ‘and increasing awareness of research through media and public outreach’. You can find out more about Mari and her work at www.swingleclinic.com
To leave a review on iTunes, click here.
Replays of past episodes can be found here.