Martha Michael | New Mental Health Technology


Psychotherapy is one of the few careers where you find far more females than males. Approximately 80 percent of marriage and family therapists are women. They are core mental health professionals — 4 in 10 Americans have sought the help of a therapist, according to research by the Barna Group.

Another finding says that, second to affordability, people’s most important criterion when choosing a therapist is “specialization or expertise.”

There is a group of women who are expanding their specialty in the treatment of depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, through a technology that’s new to Santa Clarita. Last week I attended a demonstration of BrainsWay, an FDA-approved mechanism that the practitioners at New U Therapy in Valencia began utilizing this week. 

A cushioned helmet administers Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or dTMS, where brief magnetic fields – similar to the amplitude of an MRI – are generated.

Typically, patients receive 20-minute daily sessions in their psychiatrist’s office for about four to five weeks.

The BrainsWay company released results of clinical trials, reporting: 44 percent achieved a response after the full course of treatment and one-third of patients claimed remission from their diagnosed disorders.

The treatment is offered to individuals who are frustrated from finding no success using multiple medications and therapies, etc., to treat their symptoms.

OCD affects about 2 million American adults and major depressive disorder, or MDD, is the leading cause of disability between ages 15 and 44. More than 16 million American adults have been diagnosed with MDD, and it’s more prevalent in women than in men.

Add to that the fact that one in six Americans take psychiatric drugs, plus the current crisis of opioid addiction – an epidemic killing more than 40,000 Americans per year – and a new, non-invasive option sounds like a pretty good idea.

Inna Lee, licensed marriage and family therapist, who established the local practice a few years ago, is joined by Dr. Lourdes Grayson, a psychiatrist, as well as a number of therapists, in bringing the new option to patients.

Lee is certified in hypnotherapy and a faculty member at University of Phoenix. She opened the practice with the goal of providing a variety of mental health services to improve the lives of Santa Clarita Valley residents.

Lourdes Grayson, M.D., has a specialization in child and adolescent psychiatry. She lectures and supervises physicians in the Department of Psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

What these women underscore is that female entrepreneurs, like many of the 500,000 women who own businesses in Greater Los Angeles, are not risk-adverse.

In my observation, the new dTMS technology sort of mirrors the women at the helm of New U Therapy Center.

Like the practitioner’s task, to target the machine on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of the patient, Lee and her staff members maintain a laser-like focus on advancing treatment options for their patients, thus making mental health more available.

They still utilize cognitive behavioral therapy, clinical hypnosis, talk therapy and even prescription medications.

But like women in many fields, Lee and company are able to find a point of convergence – that interoperability between the human component of psychology and the capability of technology – getting them to work together for the good of the whole, which is kind of like the neuron pathways they’re treating.

Martha Michael is a contributing writer for The Signal.

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