Dr. Stephen Sideroff has been an important part of the addiction treatment community since initiating a research program examining conditioned aspects of addiction, at UCLA and the VA in 1976. For the last 30 years, he has coordinated the Psychiatry department’s certification course in Chemical Dependency. Dr. Sideroff is an expert in resilience, optimal performance, addiction, and neurofeedback. Over the years, he has contributed to groundbreaking research in the above areas. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA’s School of Medicine, and a consultant and clinical psychologist in private practice. He is also the Director of The Path, a customized treatment approach in which Dr. Sideroff brings together 12 to 14 top experts in different disciplines to work intensively with an individual. Dr. Sideroff has also maintained his place on the national and international lecture circuit, delivering seminars and professional training programs in the U.S. and abroad.
As his website notes, Dr. Sideroff “has helped to establish innovative treatment approaches in addiction, psychosomatic medicine, optimal functioning and attention deficit disorder in China, Europe, and the U.S,” in addition to “publishing research using Neurofeedback in substance abuse.” His education, experience and passion for the recovery community have resulted in his most recent projects: a new book entitled The Path: Mastering the Nine Pillars of Resilience and Success as well as the Mind Body Room, a turnkey program that could change the way residential and outpatient facilities approach addiction treatment
When asked what inspired him to create programs for optimal performance, Dr. Sideroff told RecoveryView.com, “I was my University’s handball champion, and I was fascinated by the process of reaching deep inside to bring out my best. As a psychologist I began studying the factors that contribute to peak performance in sports – working with professional and elite athletes – in order to uncover the variables that can be useful for everyone. I found that athletes are able to focus on the things that help them to perform better and let go of, or ignore the things that hinder performance.” Currently Dr. Sideroff is studying how one enhances will in the accomplishment of one’s goals.
The Story Behind The Path: Mastering the Nine Pillars of Resilience and Success
Dr. Sideroff advanced his model of resilience in 2009. The “Resilience” audio program is a six-week self-guided program of stress mastery and optimal functioning, which spring-boarded the ideas for his new book. The Path takes the resilient living model and puts it into an easy to follow format.
“The ‘Resilience Model’ described in The Path is a truly comprehensive model that is useful for all readers because it puts forth the most effective way of being ‘in the world’ moment-by-moment,” said Dr. Sideroff. There are nine components of the model, within three areas. The first area is relationship, and includes: relationship with self, with others, and with something greater. The second area is organismic balance and mastery, which includes physical, mental and emotional balance and mastery. The final area is process, and includes presence, flexibility and finally, power, which he defines as the ability to get things done.
“When you look at any constellation of symptoms, including addictions, one of the things you discover is an underlying difficulty self-regulating, managing and recovering from stress.” , Dr. Sideroff likens this imbalance to an automobile trying to drive up a hill with its engine out of tune and not hitting on all its cylinders. In this situation, the car strains and works harder, inefficiently using more gas, while expelling more pollution into the air. “We’re shaky instead of smooth when we can’t self-regulate,” Dr. Sideroff elaborated. “We compensate by looking outside to regulate. And, alcoholics particularly have difficulty calming themselves. Their brainwaves show difficulty producing alpha brainwaves, which are associated with calmness.” Alcohol in small doses produces more alpha waves and helps alcoholics manage their physical and psychic energy. What needs to happen is for them to learn techniques of self-regulation; then they would not have as much craving.
Although the resilience model is completely different from 12-step and does not replace it, the ideas behind it underlie the entire process of addiction recovery.
THE MIND BODY ROOM
Dr. Sideroff has been working alongside Dr. Yuval Oded (based in Tel Aviv) on developing the Mind Body Room, a program that directly addresses the issue of self-regulation. The Mind Body Room is a stand-alone, turn-key program that can be installed in a variety of settings including treatment centers, sober living facilities and even corporations.
The program incorporates material from Dr. Sideroff’s Resilience program and teaches self-regulation, optimal performance and resilience using a self-guided biofeedback set up. Biofeedback is especially useful in providing a “clear presentation of the mind-body connection, while helping the individual learn to relax and release tension,” said Dr. Sideroff.
He enthusiastically described the program to RecoveryView.com, saying that “an important feature of the Mind Body Room is that it is self-contained and requires no staff assistance.” The Mind Body Room is set apart from the rest of the facility where it is installed and has a personalized “login process.” The system comes with the lecture sessions, necessary software as well as biofeedback hardware. Clients are given instructions on how to connect to the biofeedback machine which retrains the body to function more optimally. A single half-hour session includes a lecture by Dr. Sideroff, which is centered around a specific theme, followed by biofeedback training.
Dr. Sideroff has placed his programs in Sierra Tuscon Treatment Center in Tucson, Arizona and Altus Sports Institute in Santa Monica. Given Dr. Sideroff’s record of breakthrough programs, RecoveryView.com intends to follow his future research endeavors and innovations!
Upcoming Esalen Workshop
Dr. Sideroff will be presenting his innovative program, “The Path: Mastering the Nine Pillars of Resilience and Success” at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California from February 20 to 22, 2015. This is an opportunity for professionals as well as the public to immerse themselves in a weekend retreat overlooking the ocean and learning how to be on The Path. Continuing education units are offered as well.