Laura Martinez, LCDC-I – Director of PsychoNeuroPlasticity
Laura serves as the PsychoNeuroPlasticy (PNP) Director for Origins Behavioral HealthCare on South Padre Island, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, neuroscience and pre-medicine from Texas A&M University where she spent four years examining the effects of chemical dependency in its Behavioral and Cellular Neuroscience research labs, specifically examining the effects of perinatal lead exposure and cocaine sensitivity. Laura has assisted in developing novel brain plasticity interventions, and with her internship license in chemical dependency counseling, she conveys a passion for providing supportive guidance and teaching regarding the benefits and freedom of PNP interventions.
What brought you to Origins?
This may sound cliché, but God did. I was living in South Padre Island after graduation and helping my mother when my friend told me about Origins. I gathered courage and decided to email to see if I could volunteer since my dream was to work in an addiction treatment center. Within 10 minutes, co-founder Ben Levenson called and asked to meet me. I had no idea that the PNP Center existed within Origins, and when I was told this was where I would volunteer, I knew a special occurrence had happened. Two weeks later, I was offered an employed position. Looking back four years, I know this has been a cosmic impact in my life.
If there were only one thing you could tell us about working within your client specialty area, what would it be?
I’ve had the honor of experiencing how transformative and revolutionary PNP interventions are with the work we are doing with our clients. We definitely have the ability to change our brain’s neural tracks and structures. Breathing, meditation, biofeedback, mindfulness, and neurotherapy all have positive influences. We are seeing major changes in brains that were once inflamed and damaged from alcohol and drug abuse as they shift into healthier, capable and more efficient brains.
The brain heals itself. When clients realize they can restructure their brains, they then know they have the capacity to reinvent themselves. By focusing on brain healing, encouraging a healthy diet, exercising, and teaching the body and mind to relax by activating the parasympathetic nervous system through breath work and meditation, new and positive neural brain tracks can be laid down. Negative cognitions are disrupted when the client learns to motivate through positive self-talk: “I can do this;” “I am important;” and “I am enough.” Clients begin to create a safe place internally where they can grow faith in themselves and their higher power. Positive reinforcement is necessary in this phase since the brain loves to be rewarded, and then my favorite part of my job begins: teaching introspection and spiritual awareness. Living in the present moment not only facilitates more efficient processing of information, it also allows for a regulation of emotions, a decrease of anxiety/depression, and a sense of connection to the earth, to people, and to one’s own story line. Neuroplasticity creates space where mind, body and spirit connect.
What have you learned through your experience working in treatment?
I’ve experienced how effective we can be when treating clients from all different areas of care. It is magical when medical, clinical, 12-Step and PNP staff members sit together in one room and discuss each client case-by-case. We address their unique challenges and take treatment to the next level where patient care is maximized. By collaborating, we can be the most effective. We heal clients as a team, and this is something that is emphasized at Origins. It is a blessing to be a part of that team.
Do you participate in any other professional activities outside of work?
I have held a position on the executive committee for the Surfrider Foundation for three years now. This non-profit organization is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the ocean, coastal environment, and beaches through education and activism. Major dilemmas are happening with our oceans, and it’s important to spread awareness about needed actions to safeguard our Mother Earth. I’m able to volunteer while staying connected to the South Padre Island community.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you have any pets or engage in special hobbies?
On the weekends, I become a farmer. My family and I own 33 acres of delicious Rio Red grapefruit in Bayview, Texas. The company I founded, Laura’s Grapefruit, currently serves seven different farmers’ markets and a steady clientele with our full-service website and full-time staff. Farming is an extremely profound influence in my life as I experience placing a fresh, nourishing product from the trees into someone’s home. It is great to be known as “the grapefruit girl” around the Island.
Is there anything else you might like to share?
Dr. Lawlis and Dr. Peavey, the founders of PsychoNeuroPlasticity, are a wealth of knowledge. I sometimes have to pinch myself: I work under the two greatest clinical psychologists of our time. I was given the opportunity to co-author a book with Dr. Lawlis, called PsychoNeuroPlasticity Protocols for Addictions, a two-year project that was recently published in March. In the book, we translate brain research into client neuroplasticity interventions explaining how to break down specific barriers such as anxiety, depression, low self-worth and traumas, which can keep a client from working the 12-Steps whole-heartedly and living a recovered life.
For more information regarding the many programs of Origins Behavioral HealthCare where Laura Martinez works, please visit: www.originsrecovery.com