THE SABINO MODEL: Neuroscience Based Addiction and Trauma Treatment™

The Sabino Model targets the treatment of trauma as the root of the problem; which by addressing results in symptom resolution.

The Sabino Model is an integrated therapy approach developed to be used to treat those who suffer with behavioral health and or mental health issues in an intensive outpatient practice or an in-patient/residential behavioral health facility. The Sabino Model is Nancy’s vision of an innovative method and new paradigm to provide behavioral health services in the United States that came to fruition after years of work with patients, her own personal process of recovery, and her study of neuroscientific research. The vision began its development in 2006 after Nancy suffered traumatic grief as a result of losing her daughter in a car accident. She continued her work as a clinician at Sierra Tucson ultimately rising to the Clinical Director position and formulating her ideas on how best to help those who suffer.  After an in-depth study of Neuroscience and how our brains impact behavior, emotion, and coping mechanisms, she became captivated by all the potential advancements she envisioned could be made in behavioral health treatment from learning about Neuroplasticity – which refers to the brain’s capacity to change itself biologically through experiences in the environment. Her continued research on the brain’s malleability seemed an obvious and clinically critical scientific finding that needed to be used as the driver for programs of clinical excellence to treat co-morbidity and thus provide the needed treatment to prevent relapse. Nancy then introduced neuroplasticity as a new paradigm to improve treatment of mental health issues.

Nancy understood that staff expertise and capacity for empathy as qualities crucial to provide patients the best opportunity to change their brains through the building of new healthy neural pathways through consistent daily exposure to positive experiences. Her research led her to increased understanding of the need to treat sleep, provide movement therapy, alternative treatments besides the psychotherapy room, the importance of music, sound, art, animals, and nature as components of well-rounded treatment. As an Equine Assisted Psychotherapist she already understood the healing power of horses, the outdoors, being in nature, and taking healthy risks.

Her proprietary Sabino Model acknowledges that adverse experiences that happened in childhood or adult life may cause one to behave irrationally in the present and even catastrophize the future. Trauma and resulting PTSD, sleep issues, addictive behaviors, depression and more are normal reactions to abnormal experiences. By treating the core issues of trauma which can include traumatic grief, traumatic shame, betrayal trauma, and attachment failure, the root of the presenting problem is attended to and the individual is thus less prone to relapse, continue to feel depression, anxiety or have a need to medicate emotions with unhealthy behaviors.

A metaphor for the theory is that of having a skin cancer. If the Doctor removes the lesion on the surface, one will look fine and may appear cured for a bit of time. Eventually though, the skin cancer will return because the Doctor never attended to the root of the cancer growth. The root of the skin cancer, not seen by the naked eye, keeps the cancer present. Our unresolved trauma is like the root of the cancer.

The model also puts into practice treatment applications derived from recent neuroscientific research on how the brain is impacted by our life experiences and in turn impacts our behaviors, thoughts and emotions. The Sabino Model purports that if one is provided consistent, positive, nurturing experiences over a period of time, new neural pathways can be built as a result of neuroplasticity.  Neuronal pathways that were focused on negative thinking, poor decision-making, tendency toward unhappiness as an example, can be pruned and weakened as new neural pathways can override these with healthy thinking, behaviors, motivation and more.

Nancy has worked with many using this theory with wonderful success. Her model promotes the use of compassion, empathy, nurturing, and kindness.