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Louloua Smadi – Neurofeedback Therapy To Optimise Your Brains Potential

Content by: Louloua Smadi

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Louloua Smadi to the podcast. Louloua is a board certified neurofeedback practitioner with over six years of experience in the US, UK, France, and Lebanon, she specialises in helping people with special needs and other various brain challenges. Her passion for brain health and neurodiversity stems from her experience with her brother with autism and her own attention difficulties. She hopes to help families living with severe challenges raise the bar on what can be accomplished using brain-behavior therapies.

Audio Version

downloaditunes Questions asked during our conversation:

  • How would you describe the principles behind neurofeedback?
  • What behavioural issues could signal the need to use neurofeedback?
  • What is the arousal and compensatory lens?

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Full Transcript

Stu

(00:07)

Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve long-lasting health. Now I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do.

Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of superfoods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website, that is 180nutrition.com.edu, and take a look. Okay. Back to the show.

(00:49)

This week, I’m excited to welcome Louloua Smadi to the podcast. Louloua is a board-certified neurofeedback practitioner with over six years of experience in the US, UK, France, and Lebanon. She specializes in helping people with special needs and other various brain challenges. Her passion for brain health and neurodiversity stems from her experience with a brother with autism and her own attention difficulties. She hopes to help families living with severe challenges raise the bar on what could be accomplished using brain behavior therapies. In this episode, we discuss the principles of neurofeedback and learn how we can use the techniques to transform lives. Over to Louloua. Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and I am delighted to welcome Louloua Smadi to the podcast. Louloua or Lulu, as I think you’re also commonly known, how are you? Good day. You’re in Paris. Good day from Australia. Welcome to the podcast.

Louloua

Thank you.

Stu

(01:56)

So super excited about connecting with you today and loads to talk to you about in your specialist field, but first up, for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work, I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.

Louloua

(02:11):
Yeah. So I’m a practitioner in neurofeedback therapy and play therapy, currently in training. I am 28 years old. I have a son and a husband living between France and Lebanon. And basically, my story is that I have a brother with autism or four children, and he’s completely shaped our lives. And one of the therapists who really helped him, her name is Dr. Lynette Louise. And she’s the one who introduced us to neurofeedback and healing as a whole. And I just decided to follow her footsteps and get into this field. And I just published a book about this whole story. It’s called From client to Clinician. And yeah, I work with primarily children with special needs. So any neurodiverse and brain challenges [crosstalk 00:03:04].

Stu

(03:04)
Okay. So first question at the top of the ranks. So neurofeedback. What is it? I’m keen to understand the principles behind it and how we might utilize all of the methodologies from neurofeedback perspective to better our own lives.

Louloua

(03:23)
Yeah. So neurofeedback is biofeedback for the brain. So the idea of biofeedback, whether it’s through heart rate or body temperature, is that you’re providing moment-to-moment information about a physiological function. In neurofeedback’s case, we use the electrical activity of the brain. You can actually also do it with an FMRI machine and use [ebold 00:03:47] blood levels of the brain, but we’re just going to focus on the EEG. And while we measure the EEG, you use sensors that you place on the scalp. You have a computer, a software, and by measuring the information, you end up seeing that, and then you create change by getting feedback about your information. So let’s say you’re measuring your brain activity all over or in the front, the back. That’s dependence on what we’re working on. And then we’re going to ask the brain to create more or less activity. And to do that, we’re going to use pure information.

Louloua

(04:29)
And in our case, it’s beeps. So it’s pure information that’s going to lead and direct the brain to change. The best example I have is the same way you use a binary code, let’s say of yes and nos when you’re speaking to your children and saying, “Yes. No.” You’re teaching. And that’s what we do with neurofeedback. We’re just speaking to neurons in a very simple communication manner, which is through beeps. And every time it beeps, it’s a positive reward. You also have a visual reward where it could be a puzzle or it’s a Pac-Man that eats a piece. And then that’s a visual reward along with the auditory reward. And the more beeps happens, so the more rewards that happen, the more the brain understands that it needs to be going towards that direction, and that’s how change happens.

Stu

(05:26)
And where might we use neurofeedback? So in terms of behavioral issues, I mean, what type of issues might signal the need for it?

Louloua

(05:36)
So just maybe to… Because I was looking at your podcast, so the muse who you had interviewed, this is a type of neurofeedback.

Stu

(05:46)

Right. I have a muse. Yeah.

Louloua

(05:48)

Yes. So that is neurofeedback. That neurofeedback is a big word or the idea of monitoring real-time activity and using that to teach herself how to self-regulate. So it really applies to any brain challenges, whether it’s if you want to calm down and meditate, whether you’re trying to get more focus and clarity, if you feel foggy, if you feel drowsy, if you feel like you have sensory sensitivities, let’s say, in autism. You don’t even have to be autistic to have sensory sensitivities. If you have hyperactivity, if you have cerebral palsy, if you have even pain issues or even just pure peak performance where you’re trying to be able to focus better, if you’re a CEO and you just want to be able to think more clearly and be less stressed. Trauma, so PTSD is huge with neurofeedback. Alpha theta healing, which is a big word.

Stu

(06:58)

Yeah. Certainly is. You mentioned CEOs and Type A personalities. And I’m intrigued in that perspective because we have so much stimulus from everything these days that it’s very, very hard to ground yourself and be centered and concentrate. And I’ll be the first one to say that I struggle to concentrate as well, because I’m trying to tackle a task and the phone’s going, the email’s going, we’ve got notifications here, there, and everywhere. Is neurofeedback something that I could utilize in the office or do I have to come into a center and put on the wires and be rigged up to the machine to be able to dial into, I guess, all of the benefits of it?

Louloua 

(07:47)
So for sure, you can do it in your office. It just depends on what system you have. I personally do neurofeedback sessions on myself when I’m working. So when I have a research paper to read or this thing that I need to just read and focus on, I’ll do a session at the same time because I know that I’m also benefiting my brain in that way. You have to stay seated and just do something.

(08:13)
A lot of people will say that you need to focus on the actual game. It’s better, but we also shouldn’t undermine that our brains are very, very powerful and you don’t need your part of your brain that pays attention to pay attention, the same way right now, you’re sitting and breathing and functioning and living. You don’t know how you’re doing that. And it’s the same thing with neurofeedback.

(08:38):
And the idea of doing neurofeedback in your office or at home is even more powerful because then you get to do it when you actually need it versus taking an appointment. So I was just going to give you an example. I took my vaccine for COVID two days ago, late at night, and I kind of felt some symptoms. And this morning, I woke up with my son and I still kind of felt drowsy from it. And I literally just did a session, and I feel really good now because I don’t know why I got really drowsy with the vaccine. And I feel great now. I just plugged myself. I did a 15-minute session and I’m good.

Stu

(09:22)

And what technology are you using to-

Louloua

(09:26)

So there are so many. I’m using something called EGER, E- G-E-R. They offer home-based solutions, but so many companies do that. And I think it just has to do with who is, at the end of the day, going to supervise you, what kind of trainer you get. And really, you have the neurofeedback. Either you are going to go to a clinic and someone’s going to take care of you and then you’re going to do something called a qEEG, where they put the full cap. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of that.

Stu

(10:00)

Yes, I have.

Louloua 

(10:01)

And then they do a full brain map. And then based on that, they’ll tell you what we need to work on. Or you’ll get a home unit. You could do a qEEG before. But our way of working is that the qEEG is good information to have, but it’s not necessary, especially that a person is more than the numbers that are presenting. And the EEG at the end of the day is fair cortical surface information. And you want to also take into account the whole person and the deeper structures of the brain. And we focus more on your symptoms and what you’re dealing versus what your numbers are saying alone.

Stu

(10:41)

Okay. And so I’m keen to learn a little bit more then about the inspiration that led you to train in this field. Now you mentioned family members and you were so amazed and enthralled by the results, I guess, that led you to study yourself. So tell us a little bit about that.

Louloua

(10:57)

Yeah. So my younger brother, we just have 18 months of difference. He is autistic. And we tried so many behavioral therapies and they all made some kind of difference. But then he got to a point where his sensory sensitivities and our behavioral lack of understanding with him led him to be violent in some way and self-harming to himself, to others. And that’s when we were introduced to Dr. Louise and neurofeedback, because it just seemed like my brother had gone to a point where he needed help physiologically. And sometimes that’s just what happens. And it’s really just an alternative to medication. There’s no problem with medication, but this is a good alternative. My family was always afraid of giving my brother some medication. So when we heard about neurofeedback and that it was a way to create change in the brain in a natural way, because really, what neurofeedback does is that it uses your brain and body’s homeostatic adjustments, your inner need for balance. It’s self-regulation.

(12:11)
So that’s really what neurofeedback does. It just pushes your brain towards that. We thought it was a great idea. We got our own home unit. My mom’s the one who did the sessions. She was overlooked by Lynette and he became less violent. He became more social. He was less sensitive. He was able to manage and share things with us more.

(12:35)
I did it at the same time. So Lynette has more of a family approach. So for me, it was helping a lot with my depressive tendencies and my inattention. I was horribly ADD as a child in school. My younger brother with his hyperactivity, he was crazy little boy. And even my sister, she had some sort of anxiety and she hated

Louloua

(13:00)
Any types of closing on her body, so it helps her with that too.

Stu

(13:04)
Okay. And how-

Louloua

(13:06)
So, yeah, I saw, then I decided to get into it.

Stu

(13:09)
How long of a progression did that take for you to start to see change in your brother?

Louloua

(13:18)
So, you see with neurofeedback, you see immediate changes, let’s say within a session, but it’s very, very subtle and it really has to do with how much you’re able to see and what you’re after. So, at the time, my parents were after stopping my brother’s tantrums because he was having tantrums and harming himself and others at least five times a day. So, that was just the only thing that we wanted to see and we saw tantrums reduce, but then, if you want… So, what usually happens with neurofeedback is you see a gradual improvement and then it kind of plateaus. Because then you kind of got rid of the big things that are bothering you, and now you’re asking your brain to get better and more balanced. So, then you start talking other things. So, let’s say, now we want him to be able to communicate better. So, then you do different protocols with neurofeedback. It’s very flexible. You can do it with… At least depending on the system that you have. So, really to see the benefits of neurofeedback, you want to be consistent and wait it out. But you do see the difference within sessions. And that has to do also with how good your therapist is and how aware you are also of yourself.

Stu

(14:37)
And would it be like yoga or another form of exercise that it would be preferential to continue doing that throughout the course of your life or unnecessary?

Louloua

(14:48)
We like to call it yoga for the brain, so it’s definitely the same idea. So, yeah, if you stop working out and you stop doing yoga, your brain will maybe go back to its maladaptive ways and it’s better to relate in our feedback to yoga and not to… Let’s say, a lot of people ask me if you can get addicted to it. The difference is that you are changing your baseline. So, if you are changing your baseline, you’re never going to be addicted to it and dependent on it because you’re never going back to that initial place. So, ideally, yes, it’s something that ends up being a tool that you have forever, but you don’t have to. It can be something that you use for the first three months, and then you let go of it because you’re feeling fine. And then you’re kind of going through something difficult, so then you do some sessions. Usually, what people do is you start twice a week and then you go to, let’s say, once a month and then once every three months, then it’s as needed.

Stu

(15:56)

And so if I’ve come to a session and I’ve put the diodes or whatever it is I’m attaching to the points in my head to connect to the machine and I’m sitting in front of a screen, what might I expect to see?

Louloua

(16:12)
So, you have your electrodes. You could either be having the full cap or it’s just very single two here. And then one or two here, depending on what we’re doing. You’re sitting in front of a computer and then all you’re seeing really is a game. So whether it’s a puzzle, so it starts off as just squares and then each time your brain does it, what we want it to do, you get a puzzle piece that comes up and then that’s really what it is. You’re just playing a game and your brain is doing it without you really realizing what it is that you are doing. You can focus and try to make it happen, which is good. But sometimes people focus too much and then they’re not able to figure out how to do it and then they get anxious. And so it’s really just better to just let it be.

Louloua

Or you could, what I usually do is if I have the puzzle piece and I’m working with children, I’ll pick the favorite images that they have. And yeah. I mean, but honestly at some point… Sorry, I needed my charger.

Stu

That’s okay.

Louloua

(17:24):
It becomes really boring, I’m not going to lie.

Stu

(17:28)
Right, okay.

Louloua

(17:29)
Because usually you want to do a 30-minute session and it’s always better to be able to be consistent with it than not do it because you’re bored. So, if you eventually want to do some emails or read, that’s fine also because the most important part at the end of the day is your auditory reward. So, the beeps. Because beeps are stronger in the sense that visually you have the processing of what’s happening visually. When you’re hearing something, it’s just faster, the temporal resolution of it is just stronger.

Stu

(18:02)
Okay. I was looking at the website and watching a few videos as well and you mentioned the arousal and compensatory lens quite often. So I was keen to understand what that might be.

Louloua

(18:20)
Yeah. When I say arousal compensatory lines, it’s an investigative method to understand a behavior. What we mean by arousal, arousal is when you’re awake, any organ in your body, any bodily function in your brain is how ready it is to do a task and such. So there’s an arousal model. So basically your brainstem is what gets your whole brain and body ready to do what it needs to do. You do that through the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system and all of the digestive systems and all of that. It also affects your electrical activity of your brain. So it affects your behavior, your EEG, your hormones, and all of that. So, it’s a good way of understanding behavior without necessarily the use of diagnosis, which is why in neurofeedback it’s interesting, because then we can actually look at EEG in a way that just gives us information about how your body is functioning.

(19:33)
When we put electrodes on you, we can see, for instance, how much of low activity you have in certain areas of your brain, low-frequency activity, sorry. Usually, let’s say, low-frequency activity in the front of your brain could mean that you have attention issues, could mean that you’re depressed. So we look at that information and then use neurofeedback to change that. But when we say arousal and compensatory, we’re saying that, “Okay, if you have low-frequency in the front, and that means that you could have attention issues, it could also be a way of compensating for something that’s happening elsewhere.” So, that’s one way of looking at it from a EEG perspective.

Louloua

(20:19)
But if you look at it also behaviorally, so let’s say, you can go from being under-aroused to over-aroused. It’s just a spectrum. So if I’m someone who’s under-aroused, that means that I’m maybe sad most of the time, I’m down, I have low energy, my arousal systems are down, and my efficiency levels, it will be kind of difficult to get into the right place that I want to be if I’m asking to do a certain task. So, if I’m really low and I need to be doing something, what’s most probably going to happen is I’m going to compensate by being hyperactive.

Stu

(20:58)

Ah, I see.

Louloua

(20:58)
So, I actually look like a very hyperactive person, and actually most hyperactive kids, we’ll sit them down and be like, “Calm down, please calm down.” But actually, their problem is that they’re too calm. So, if you’re asking a child to calm down when he hates feeling calm and he’s actually using the hyperactivity to waken himself up because he’s so low in arousal, it’s counterintuitive and you’re actually going against the wall because that’s their problem.

Stu

(21:32)
I would imagine at this point in time, there’d probably be a whole heap of people thinking, “I have got a child who drives me nuts because they are so hyperactive, but bordering on the spectrum,” which is a phrase that everybody uses these days. If they are going bouncing off the walls, what should we do?

Louloua

(21:55)
Other than doing neurofeedback?

Stu

(21:56)
Yes.

Louloua

(21:59)
Because then with neurofeedback, you would actually make the brain more awake and alert, so that then the hyperactivity wouldn’t be as needed. That’s one.

(22:08)
But behaviorally, you should actually even go in it with them and help with their hyperactivity in the sense that if we understand that their issue is that they don’t like that feeling of feeling calm, and if we’re asking them to feel calm, that will make their hyperactivity worse. So, we can tire them out, or, let’s say, it depends on what your situation is. So, if your kid is trying to study and all they want to do is jump off the wall, that’s probably their way of helping themself study. So, attention doesn’t mean that I’m focused and this is what attention is. No, attention, we go, we come in and out of attention. And for most kids, they need to be doing something, whether it’s chewing gum or looking at that thing while actually listening to you. It’s their way of helping themselves.

(23:08)
So if they need to, so for instance, let’s say you’re asking them to do one exercise, so you can tell them, “How about you do one exercise and then you get five minutes of jumping around and doing what you want. Do that, and then come back so we can finish.” Or if there’s a kid who wants to be holding something while they’re trying to finish their homework, or every child has their own little thing to help out. So, I think it’s more about understanding what the child needs instead of going with what’s the norm and trying to fit him in that.

Stu

(23:46)
Got it. So, question. I see this a lot and I have been guilty of this in the past as well. So, children who are clearly very energized in a public place, let’s say, a restaurant or a cafe and they’re driving you mad. The quick fix is to bring out the mobile phone or the iPad, and almost zombify them as they’re so engrossed in the screen time. Now, what’s your perspective on that approach?

Louloua

(24:20)
Our perspective, this is how, again, I’m taught by Lynette, is it depends on the parents because the parent at the end of the day is if the parent is not good, the child will not be good. That’s a hundred percent. You can have children who go to therapy and are perfect with their therapist. And, “Oh, I wonder why things are so good with me, but how come things are so bad at home?” Well, that’s not where real change happens. And that’s what was happening with me as a clinician. I was doing all this work and helping the kids and then they would go home and then it’s as if all of the work we did was done.

(24:54)
So, the parent is really the focus here. So, if you can’t handle it, if you really are drained and you have a certain task or you have a certain meeting or you really have to have this conversation with this person, then pull out the iPad if that really is what you need. But if you’re trying to teach the kids something, let’s say at a restaurant and the child keeps, I don’t know, his attention keeps turning to that garbage or thing on the floor, whatever they find interesting. Try to find a way of figuring out what is it that you’re trying to teach them. Are you trying to teach them to sit down on a chair or are you trying to teach them that when food comes, we sit down? If you don’t want your food, it’s all right. If food is not here yet, you can go be curious or maybe try to find what’s interesting in what they’re interested in.

(26:00)
I think it’s so hard for me to give you an answer like that. It’s just so general. I think the one thing you should remember is what are you trying to teach your child? Because that’s really where we lose sense. We think all the children are supposed to be that way, but each child is very, very different and their way to independence. Because really, at the end of the day, that’s what we want. We want our children to be independent. And their way to independence is going to look different from each, even between your own children.

Stu

(26:33)
And do you think technology is impacting children negatively? And I kept talking about that from a standpoint of always on this continual arousal. Or it’s just reward, reward, reward, swipe, swipe, swipe. I often find that we can get caught up in our smartphones ourselves as adults, and you can lose time. You could lose half an hour in this never-ending reel of social media. And I can see that. I’ve spoken to a few people. It just seems like it might be rewiring us internally to just accept instant reward.

Louloua

(27:15)
Yeah, for sure. The idea of technology is that we use it in a passive mode. So I always say if we can try to use it in an active mode. So if we can try to teach our children to set an intention and how they’re using that technology. So you know how sometimes you use technology and you’ll say, “I just want to disconnect. Really, that’s what I want.” And then you can tell yourself you’re trying to be. Guys, if you want to disconnect put a time limit. Okay, you are doing this right now to disconnect for 10, 15 minutes. But sometimes we reach out to technology because we want to watch a certain thing or we want to learn about a certain thing, or it helps us. So let’s say you’re trying to get… Sometimes, yeah, our children do need to calm down with an iPad. That’s okay also, but I think the intention behind why we’re using it will make it more useful and less like it’s taking over us. Technology is not going anywhere.

Stu

(28:24)
It’s not. It’s not going away.

Louloua

(28:26):
I’m telling you about a therapy with technology.

Stu

(28:28)
That’s right. Yeah.

Louloua

(28:30)
So yeah.

Stu

(28:31)
No, you make a good point. So just looping back then to the book, so From Client to Clinician, what could we expect from the book? Is it a story, is it a roadmap to how we might be able to use neurofeedback ourselves? Tell us about it a little-

Louloua

(28:51)
Yeah. So it’s a mix between a story and the technicalities of neurofeedback. When I got into the field, I felt like all the books on neurofeedback were very, very technical, and it was really hard to imagine what it was like to have neurofeedback in your life. So it’s my story from clients of neurofeedback to becoming a clinician of neurofeedback. It’s also the story of my brother. It’s a story of Lynette, my mentor, how her approach, I found it very successful with my own clients at the end of the book. And so it explains what neurofeedback is. It explains

(29:35)
It also really explains in our take of how important it is to individualize our treatment options. And to not forget that although we are using technology and numbers to understand someone, that person is whole, and we shouldn’t just stick to the numbers and really look at the behavior and how someone is doing and who do they want to be. Because when I was talking about the arousal and compensatory lens, we’re also taking into account who do you want to be as a person and not how can we fit you into that norm. So if you’re someone who likes to… okay, let’s say meditation, that’s this huge topic right now. When I meditate, as good as the benefits are, I don’t like the feeling of meditating. It makes me want to fall asleep. I don’t like it. It’s my right to be able to say that. It’s a preference, and we all have preferences. If I want to meditate while I take a walk, that also works. It’s still meditation.

Stu

(30:41)

Sure

Louloua Smadi

(30:42)

But I prefer, so we all have preferences on who we want to be as people and how we want to grow. And that’s what really the book is about also, that it’s okay for you to decide who you want to be in and not fit into a certain norm that people are telling you to fit into.

Stu

(31:00)

Great, interesting. I was reading a little bit about the book and I picked up on a reference that you mentioned around the gap between research and clinical worlds. And I was hoping that you might explain what that was.

Louloua

(31:19)
Yeah. So I have a master’s in neuroimaging, which is more of the research side, and also with all of the courses I took. Sorry, that’s the home phone.

Stu (31:31):
That’s okay.

Louloua Smadi (31:33):
And I noticed that’s what is proven in research is not technically what we see clinically. And so there’s a lag between what you see in research and then what clinical applications are doing. So I found that really frustrating because we could be seeing things clinically happen over and over and over again, but research wasn’t showing that because of so many different reasons. And so that meant that it wasn’t approved. So it wasn’t right to do that because it wasn’t proven by research. I’m not undermining research at all, it’s very important. But I do talk about this in the book, and I do say that it is important that you look at research in a very serious way but don’t get blinded by it either. And don’t undermine what you as a parent see and believe in for your own children. It doesn’t mean that research says X, Y, Z, that it’s necessarily the only truth. There’s things that are bigger than that.

Stu (32:38):
Yeah. That makes sense. Do you find the age of the person has any bearing on the, I guess the speed, I guess the effectiveness of neurofeedback? for instance, if I’m 80 years old and I’m feeling tired and low in energy and I’ve forget my words, will I be as an effective as a client as a 10-year-old child for instance?

Louloua Smadi (33:15):
Well, if you just look at it from neuro-plasticity wise, the younger you are, the more changes can happen. But there’s something interesting, when you’re young, you’re less self-aware. So changes happen, but you individually, it will be harder for you to grasp it. So then when you’re kind of in end of teenage years in your twenties, maybe things are harder for you to change neuroplasticity-wise, but you’re very self-aware. So then you really are feeling all of the changes that you’re going through. And then when you’re older, a lot of people do it with for Alzheimer’s, for Parkinson’s, for memory, like you were saying. Changes, you can feel differences, maybe more in your mood and in your energy, in your sleep. But yeah, the whole memory and such things will take a bit longer. You’ll need more repeated sessions for things to stay longer. But a lot of success has happened with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I haven’t had clients myself like that, but I know them that has. And it really just, it kind of stops the symptoms of deteriorating. So you’re not changing it, but you’re helping it not get worse.

Stu (34:33):
Okay. Okay. And from a tech perspective, how many advancements have been made in this era, say over the last five years? Because I’m mindful of things like the Muse now, which plug into the iPhone and you can take those with you wherever you go. And I haven’t been subject to neurofeedback tech personally, but I imagine that it probably isn’t as portable and as personalized as some of the new gadgets out there at the moment.

Louloua Smadi (35:11):
Yeah. There are things that are more clinical and are portable similarly to the Muse. So the more portable you have the system is, the less flexibility you’ll have in your clinical application. So it really depends what you need. So if you have a child with autism, you are going to need flexibility in what you want to target in your brain. But if you have someone with attention, if you have someone with anxiety and things like that, it is possible to go with a portable system. Most of them are called brain computer interfaces. And there’s so many cool things out there. There’s even like VR neurofeedback. And so it really depends what you’re after. And yes, the clinical systems that really go after maybe severe challenges, it is mostly going to be a laptop and in your electrodes.

Stu (36:15):
Okay. Fascinating. Yeah. I’m intrigued to find out more because I am a bit of a tech nerd, interested in fascinating-

Louloua Smadi (36:22):
So many cool things.

Stu (36:23):
And gadgets. Your thoughts on nutrition, because I could come to you complaining of attention issues and energy issues, but I might live on energy drinks and I might be on the sugar roller coaster. Would you ask those questions?

Louloua Smadi (36:44):
For sure. And I use that to understand you. So when we talk about arousal, we’re trying to understand how do you help yourself. What is it that you do to reach homeostasis, for you to reach balance? So if you’re going after energy drinks and sugar, what does that tell me? It tells me that you’re looking for energy, that means that you’re more on the lower side and you’re trying to be more aroused. So we would, with neurofeedback, we would mimic that. And then the idea ideally is that you wouldn’t need to go after those things anymore because you would feel more balanced. But I would obviously always suggest also my clients that you obviously need to have a balanced diet. And coffee plays a big thing in this also. If someone craves coffee, or if someone that shows me also that they want more arousal, but if someone takes coffee because they’re used to it, but they get harp palpitations, or they don’t like how they feel with a coffee. Sometimes just trying them to stop the coffee changes a whole lot of things.

Louloua Smadi (37:58):
And sometimes it’s just really hard to change nutrition before changing physiologically what’s happening to you, because it became a dependency.

Stu (38:06):
Yeah, absolutely right. That’s what a lot of foods are designed to do. They hit that bliss point because they sell. And ultimately that’s the goal of a lot of marketeers and big food companies.

Louloua Smadi (38:19):
Sadly.

Stu (38:20):
Yes. Sell more product. Sleep, so sleep for us from a health and wellness perspective is almost the number one pillar. In fact, it is the number one pillar. Without sleep, everything falls apart. Can neurofeedback help sleep quality? And I’m talking about typically we see two issues with sleep, people that have trouble getting to sleep, and people that have trouble staying asleep and waking up feeling very tired.

Louloua Smadi (38:52):
So a hundred percent it can. We see sleep is one of the things that you see changes in directly.

Louloua Smadi (39:00):
Directly, however, sleep is a very personal thing and there’s lots of behavioral and beliefs that come into play when we talk about sleep. And most of the time sleep ends up becoming a problem because we believe we have a problem and then it’s just like this vicious circle.

Stu (39:23):
Yes.

Louloua Smadi (39:24):
That we just created. Yes, there is a problem in the sleep, but then … I have a almost one year old son and when I was learning about baby sleep, they were saying that if you don’t help him sleep better then he’ll just end up having bad sleep patterns and then end up with these bad sleep patterns thinking that he has a sleep problem.

Stu (39:46):
Right.

Louloua Smadi (39:46):
But if you try to fix them, you will end up in a better sleep way. So let’s say, you go to sleep every day at 3:00 AM because you can’t fall asleep and then you wake up late every day. Well, that’s just your pattern now.

Stu (39:59):
Yeah.

Louloua Smadi (40:00):
But sleep has a lot to do with your nervous system. Yes, when we do sessions, your sleep does get improved whether it’s you’re falling asleep quickly or you’re waking up less at night or you’re feeling better when you wake up. So it’s definitely a good tool, but again, with everything. Neurofeedback alone, any other therapy alone, is not enough and you need to do the work alongside. Whether it’s putting your phone on the side at night, reading. Reading is such a good way of falling asleep.

Stu (40:36):
Yeah, totally.

Louloua Smadi (40:38):
Yeah.

Stu (40:39):
Okay. So then just to generalize, if I’m somebody who doesn’t get the best sleep, have problems concentrating, brain fog, feel anxious, caught up in social media, just struggle to get through the day without this feeling of calm, neurofeedback would be beneficial for me.

Louloua Smadi (41:10):
Yes. Then maybe just before even doing neurofeedback, I hope just the idea of where we are in the arousal spectrum helps. If you’re just understanding that okay, how you’re feeling has to do with how you are wired physiologically.

Stu (41:31):
Yeah.

Louloua Smadi (41:31):
For instance, if social media is overwhelming, it’s probably overwhelming because maybe you’re more in the low arousal side, or maybe I’m more in the higher arousal side. Then you’re so aroused that you’re thinking about every single little thing that is happening, and then you end up not wanting to do a single thing.

Stu (41:49):
Yeah. I see.

Louloua Smadi (41:52):
Or you’re more on the under arousal side and then there’s so much happening that you can’t even go through it so then you’re just in this brain fog all the time. The idea is to figure out what are the things during the day that you can do, because neurofeedback will do the same thing. It’ll just speak to your brain directly. What are the things that you can do that will help that? Really a good way is just being aware of those things.

Louloua Smadi (42:22):
Let’s say your sleep or your social media, it needs to be not an automatic thing that you’re not thinking about and needs to be, “Okay. Now it’s time, now I’m going to be opening my social media,” and you’ll put a timeframe or you’ll decide what you want to be doing with it or maybe you’ll decide with your sleep what time you would like to be sleeping at so then you’ll decide maybe an hour before that, “I’ll watch something and then I’ll read something.”

Louloua Smadi (42:58):
Or for the attention is if you have a lot of brain fog. I mean, listen. For me and brain fog, my go-to is neurofeedback. I do it all the time for my brain fog. Because sometimes brain fog you’ll do … I don’t know if you’re into essential oils and things like that, those help, but it’s not as quick as neurofeedback would be, but really just understand, getting to know yourself, really get to know yourself. Because that’s what neurofeedback will do at the end of the day. It’s just self-awareness.

Stu (43:36):
Could it potentially be dangerous for me to purchase a device myself and just go hell for leather? Wire myself up, turn the device on, and just sit on that thing all day long?

Louloua Smadi (43:51):
No. I don’t think a … A company would not even allow that.

Stu (43:58):
Right.

Louloua Smadi (43:58):
If you’re buying clinical system, they always make sure that you have a therapist supervising or you’ll have things like the Muse. I don’t know. Do you feel it, have you done sessions with Muse? Do you feel something with the Muse? Any change?

Stu (44:16):
Look, I struggle with meditation. I’m hopeless at it.

Louloua Smadi (44:18):
Okay.

Stu (44:19):
It’s not my thing. That’s why I went to the Muse because I just thought tech will make it easy.

Louloua Smadi (44:26):
I mean, listen. Okay. You’re saying it. If meditation is not your thing, do you not like … That goes back to what I’m telling you about the preference.

Stu (44:34):
Yeah.

Louloua Smadi (44:35):
That’s okay. You don’t need to meditate in the way that everyone is telling us to meditate. You probably just don’t like feeling calm. I don’t like feeling calm either and that’s okay. I like feeling focused and productive. I like doing many things during the day. I like when I feel like … That’s how I feel good.

Stu (44:56):
Yeah.

Louloua Smadi (44:56):
That’s the preference and that’s who I want to be. I will meditate when I’m saying a prayer or when I’m setting my intentions for the day or when I’m walking or when I’m with my son. If I’m sitting and watching him play, that’s my way of meditating.

Stu (45:12):
Yeah. I kind of look at it as flow state. Flow state for me is just this state of this pure bliss.

Louloua Smadi (45:23):
Yeah, I love the concept of flow.

Stu (45:24):
I find that when I’m in the ocean and moving in sunshine in nature but when I’m sitting in a room closing my eyes, I’m definitely not in flow state.

Louloua Smadi (45:36):
That’s okay. That’s okay. It really frustrates me how we’re in a world today where there’s a certain way of doing things and I don’t think it’s fair to impose that on everyone. I love the Muse. When I saw the Muse, I was like, “Oh my God, this is the coolest company in the world.” I wanted to move to Canada and work for them. That’s how cool I thought it was.

Stu (45:58):
Definitely a very smart piece of kit.

Louloua Smadi (46:01):
Yeah. But what happens is usually when you go for portable systems is they need to simplify things so they won’t be able to target all of the brain challenges. If you’re someone who finds difficulty in calming down, that’s probably why the Muse wasn’t such a good fit, just because we are all different, that’s okay. I have the Muse myself. I don’t really feel anything from it because I like to feel the opposite.

Stu (46:31):
Right. Yep. Snap, same. Okay. That is good to know. Well, I’m definitely intrigued to find out more and yeah.

Louloua Smadi (46:44):
Australia has so many neurofeedback people. They’re doing great there.

Stu (46:48):
Really?

Louloua Smadi (46:49):
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve met Australians training in neurofeedback in certain classes, but I’ve never kept in contact. But Australia’s doing great and definitely see what’s out there. It’s a great tool.

Stu (47:08):
Brilliant, fantastic. Well, I’m cognizant of the time. We’re just coming up on towards the end of the show, but I’m keen to understand a little bit more about your daily non-negotiable, so the practices that you follow each and every day in order to crush the day, things that you absolutely have to do.

Louloua Smadi (47:29):
I’m not that kind of person.

Stu (47:32):
Really?

Louloua Smadi (47:34):
I try to stay consistent with things, but life happens.

Stu (47:38):
Yeah.

Louloua Smadi (47:39):
I travel a lot. The one thing that is an absolute non-negotiable is time with my family.

Stu (47:46):
Right.

Louloua Smadi (47:47):
I will always make time for my son and my husband. They’re my fuel, they’re my everything and that’s something that never gets touched. Then I try to pray, whatever prayer is for each person.

Stu (48:03):
Yeah.

Louloua Smadi (48:04):
I pray and set my intentions for the day. I remind myself of the bigger picture, of the bigger objective. I remind myself that life is what it is and to not get caught up with all the little things that … Sorry to be grim, but-

Stu (48:20):
No.

Louloua Smadi (48:20):
We could all die tomorrow. I like to remind myself of this so I can remember why I’m doing what I’m doing. I obviously try to work out and eat healthy but these things are not non-negotiables. I wouldn’t lie to everyone and say that I’m that much of a healthy.

Stu (48:39):
You bend the rules every now and again, but that’s okay because that’s healthy too. What’s next? What have you got in the pipeline?

Louloua Smadi (48:51):
Me and Lynette are building an online educational platform that is hopefully going to offer online courses, resources, coaching on special needs and behavioral and neurofeedback topics. That’s what we’re creating.

Stu (49:11):
Exciting.

Louloua Smadi (49:12):
Yeah, I can’t wait and I hope that just reaches to the right people and helps everyone.

Stu (49:18):
Absolutely. Well, keep us posted and we’ll update all of the links on our website as well so people can find out more and-

Louloua Smadi (49:24):
Thank you. Yeah.

Stu (49:25):
On that topic, for everybody that wants to find out more about you, order your book, or maybe just interested in the topic and neurofeedback, where can I send them?

Louloua Smadi (49:36):
I have a website for my book, which has my information. It’s called clienttoclinician.com, so clienttoclincian.com. I also have an Instagram. It’s my first name, Louloua, L-O-U-L-O-U-A.S-E-H and I post just fun cool things about neurofeedback and behavior and yeah. That’s it.

Stu (49:59):
Excellent. Fantastic. Well, Louloua, thank you so much for your time, really appreciate it.

Louloua Smadi (50:04):
Thank you, it was such a pleasure. I really enjoyed it.

Stu (50:07):
I’m intrigued now. I want to find out more. We will put all of the information that we’ve spoken about today in the show notes as well so all the links will be there and hopefully we’ll send some traffic your way.

Louloua Smadi (50:19):
Thank you. I’ll make sure to order some products.

Stu (50:23):
No need, no need. No, I appreciate it. Well, look, hopefully we’ll catch up at some stage in the future, but really appreciate your time.

Louloua Smadi (50:30):
Thank you.

Stu (50:30):
Thank you.

Louloua Smadi (50:30):
Thank you so much.

 

 

 

Louloua Smadi

This podcast features Louloua Smadi. Louloua is a board certified neurofeedback practitioner with over six years of experience in the US, UK, France, and Lebanon, she specialises in helping people with special needs and other various brain challenges. Her passion for brain health and neurodiversity stems from her experience with... Read More
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