B E H A V I O R A L  H E A L T H  N E W S 


Introducing Veena Kumari, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer

Veena Kumari, Ph.D., has joined Sovereign Health's executive team as chief scientific officer. After receiving her doctorate in psychology from Banaras Hindu University, India, in 1993, Dr. Kumari moved to the Institute of Psychiatry in London to continue her research. She most recently served as the Professor of Experimental Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London. Having co-authored more than 300 publications, she is recognized as a leading authority in the fields of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder, nicotine addiction and dual diagnosis.

Her work has earned such distinctions as the Humboldt Award, the Hans Eysenck Annual Scholarship Award, the British Association of Psychopharmacology Clinical Psychopharmacology Prize, the Young Investigator Award from the National Alliance of Research on Schizophrenia and Depression and the Young/Senior Scientist Awards from the Schizophrenia Congress.

We sat down to speak with Dr. Kumari in her office at Sovereign Health, San Clemente, California.

My role at Sovereign Health

As the chief scientific officer of Sovereign Health, my main duties consist of overseeing the scientific missions of the company, including the development of new processes, technologies and products.

My current focus is on developing and implementing a protocol to enhance the assessment of patients' psychopathology, neurophysiology and cognition so that current treatments can be tailored to suit their needs more effectively. This will also help to decide which patients might be most likely to need and benefit from adjunct treatments such as cognitive remediation using computerized games and other programs, neurofeedback or TMS. 

Furthermore, we plan to conduct repeated assessments every 30 days until discharge so patients' treatment progress and experiences can be continuously monitored. Using this information, we hope to be able to propose new treatments or new combinations of existing treatments to better serve a wider range of patients.

This initiative will help ensure that Sovereign's treatments stay at the forefront of clinical advances and provide the most effective therapy possible.

My past work

This field has intrigued me since the earliest days of my career. I have an established research track record of applying psychological and neuroscientific methods to understand the psychobiological underpinnings of mental disorders and their treatments with drug and/or psychological interventions. 

For example, my previous work has shown that violent offenders with schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder have distinct brain and behavioral deficits, and thus require different management and treatment strategies. My other studies have documented the brain and behavioral effects of cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness meditation, nicotine, amphetamine, antipsychotics and other drugs. 

I am particularly excited about recent findings, some from my own studies, which suggest that it is possible to improve certain brain functions using interventions such as cognitive remediation, neurofeedback, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and mindfulness. These brain functions are vital for the long-term recovery of mental health patients. As I step into my role at Sovereign, this line of research will prove particularly fruitful.

Thoughts on Sovereign

I'm impressed by the fact that Sovereign Health provides treatment coast-to-coast and across the age spectrum, with specialized programs for adolescents, older adults and women who have suffered trauma. Sovereign already uses the most cutting-edge treatment methods available to help patients achieve lasting recovery and reintegrate back into society, but there is always room for advancement.

I look forward to working with Sovereign's elite group of psychiatrists, psychologists and other behavioral health professionals as we chart new frontiers in treatment to provide even better outcomes for patients and their families.

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Sovereign Health’s Chief Medical Officer Ashish Bhatt, M.D., highlights Sovereign Health’s unique treatment approach in a new television interview on KMIR News in Palm Desert, Calif. Watch the full video interview here. Watch the Video

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Sovereign Health's ground-breaking editorial series "NOT IN MY BACKYARD" or "NIMBY" touches on the opposition to having sober living homes and treatment facilites in any particular community. This series offers an analysis of the range of concerns, regulations and laws that come into play with this movement. If you haven't already, take a moment to read this series: READ MORE

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Our "Beyond NIMBY" series continues the discussion about the "NOT IN MY BACKYARD" movement. This series stays abreast of the latest discussions and decisions relating to this subject and provides updated information whenever it becomes available. READ MORE

M E D I C A L  N E W S •

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Combination of Benzodiazepines and Opioids

Opioids are prescription painkillers that are used for severe pain when no other alternatives are available and all other treatments have not achieved pain relief. They are supposed to be used sparingly, but their use has sparked an epidemic in the United States due to their dangerously high addictive potential. READ MORE

• C L I N I C A L  N E W S •

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People with schizophrenia and their families face many challenges, but research is showing that simple interventions can empower individuals with the disorder to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

Cognitive deficits can make learning, decision-making and vocational functioning difficult and affect all aspects of life. Significant cognitive impairment affects about 75 percent of people with schizophrenia. This cognitive dysfunction is thought to be caused by a disruption in brain activity from progressive changes in neurons. READ MORE

Studies Show Cold Weather May be Good For You

Winter is coming – and that might not be a bad thing.

A recent study has found that – contrary to popular belief – depression symptoms don’t always grow worse in the winter. Another study found that some people may perform even BETTER in colder weather.

The results of these studies were published in the journals Clinical Psychological Science and Association for Consumer Research respectively. READ MORE

• F E A T U R E  N E W S •


Sovereign Health's ninth installment in its editorial series, 'State of Addiction Policy' examines the controversial debate regarding  marijuana legalization. This subject continues to remain as a top issue in the public eye and as the election approaches it is important to re-examine the facts about marijuana and the pros and cons of its legalization.  READ MORE


Book Review: Discover Why Music Moves Us With 'Music and Embodied Cognition'

Music moves us. Whether listeners love punk rock, metal, classical, pop, techno or country, it speaks to them. That sentiment goes for anyone who has heard music. There is something in those three- to five-minute bites of musical notes that reaches into our minds and souls and makes us experience that moment, process our thoughts and dream of what could be. Music can get us through a rough day, help us through a break up, enhance a celebration and more.

Some may wonder how this works. How is it that something as simple as a song can do so much, or make such a big impact that it can be considered a form of therapy to combat things like mental illness and addiction? READ MORE


From Heart to Heel: The Simple Words That Can Get a Battered Woman to Walk Away

Gut-wrenching, heart-racing, teeth-grinding, lip-biting and paralyzing fear to leave. All too often busted lips, blood and bruises won’t make a woman brave the wrath of her oppressor and leave a domestic violence relationship. When even the sight of her children – audience to such abuse –can’t unglue her feet from the floor to finally walk away, what will? For Kelly Lee, it was picturesque words filled with emotion pouring from her heart, to pen and pad. READ MORE

T O O L K I T S •

Sovereign Health’s ‘Relationships in Recovery’
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Sovereign Health's "Relationships in Recovery" content toolkit is now available. This resource for former patients and their loved ones provides step-by-step guidance and tools to assist them in rebuilding relationships that were damaged by addiction. READ MORE 

• T E S T I M O N I A L S •

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes men middle-aged and older commit suicide more than any other demographic. With cultural expectations to be a provider, to be strong and successful but also stoic and impervious to emotion, it’s no wonder why mature men routinely report having the highest level of psychological stress. Sovereign Health’s Palm Desert treatment facility offers a solution: Personal Recovery Integrating Men’s Experiences (P.R.I.M.E.), a program made specifically for mature men. READ MORE

E V E N T S  A N D  W E B I N A R S •

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Presented By Angela Klein, Ph.D.

Eating in an unbalanced way is a norm, and yet it is associated with a host of detrimental consequences for well-being and health, including increased mortality risk. This impact extends beyond diagnosable eating disorders to subthreshold behaviors well. Awareness of how to overcome these patterns is thus imperative for both individuals and professionals alike. Mindful eating from the dialectical perspective offers the most cutting-edge option for moving past these concerns. This presentation will provide an overview of the theoretical underpinnings, key components and research foundation of this life-changing program directly from its author and primary investigator. This C.E. and networking event will take place on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 11:30 A.M. (PDT) in El Cajon, CA. REGISTER NOW


Webinar: Performing Under Pressure
Presented By Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D.

This presentation focuses on the emerging clinical intervention, pressure management. A growing body of recent research, including studies from Yale Law School (2015) and studies reported in The APA Monitor (2014) indicate individuals who experience frequent feelings of pressure are prone to experience specific mental health disorders such as depression, substance use disorder and anxiety disorders including performance anxiety and social phobias.  Similarly, there is a significant amount of research that clinical populations, those with existing anxiety disorders and eating disorders, and substance abusers have an inability to manage pressure.  Participants will learn how to use pressure management as a clinical intervention, as a treatment intervention for clinical populations, and to enhance their own effectiveness. This webinar will occur on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 11:00 A.M. (PDT). REGISTER NOW

Event: What Works in Therapy?
Presented by Patrick Schonbachler, Psy.D., HSPPab909c31-97ba-4738-9b6f-33f2630bec4b_copy.jpg

This presentation examines the common factors underlying effective psychotherapy and brings the psychotherapist and the client-therapist relationship back into focus. Study after study concludes that psychotherapy works to improve the lives of the clients who seek help from professional therapists. Are there modalities that are more effective or is it specific common characteristics that promote mental and emotional healing? The goal of this presentation is to explore this debate. This C.E. and networking event will take place on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 11:30 A.M. (PDT) in Chandler, CA. REGISTER NOW

Event: Harnessing Your Most Powerful Tool in Treating Behavioral Health- links to a different date/event
Presented by Dawn Wiggins, LMFT

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N E W S  A R C H I V E S •



5 Ways to Declutter Your Mind

For a space that doesn’t make a sound, the mind can be the nosiest place in the world. The mind is full of constant chatter from reminders about deadlines, errands and meetings, to your own voice telling you to stop and take time for yourself. From listening to friends, family and co-workers, to learning what you need to know to earn a degree or make a living, to news, social media, sports and entertainment, the modern mind can easily become overwhelmed with clutter. READ MORE

P S Y C H O L O G Y  T O D A Y 


Detox Your Relationships: Helpful hints for dealing with a toxic person

-By Ralph Ryback, M.D., and Courtney Lopresti, M.S., senior staff writer for Sovereign Health

The term toxic is defined as “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The word is often used to describe chemicals, but it is also commonly used to describe people and relationships. READ MORE


4 Disorders That Resemble Depression, But Aren't: Why it never hurts to get a blood test before diagnosis

-By Ralph Ryback, M.D., and Kristen Fuller, M.D., senior staff writer for Sovereign Health Group

This quote, frequently misattributed to Mark Twain, describes the dangers of believing something false with all your heart. Instead of focusing on treating the real problem, you put all of your effort into fixing an issue that bears little relevance to your future. This quote was famously used in the film An Inconvenient Truth to highlight the risks associated with denying climate change. READ MORE

S O V E R E I G N  I N  T H E  N E W S •
S O V E R E I G N  U P D A T E S 
 V O I C E S  O F  T H E  A D D I C T 'S  M O M 

Daniel_copy.jpgMy Beloved Boy, Daniel Francis Montalbano

Written by Sherry Schlenke as told to her by his devoted Mom, Barbara Theodosiou, creator of “The Addict’s Mom”

Daniel was a beautiful, chubby newborn with huge brown eyes. I fell in love with him from the first moment I held him. He was a cute, curious toddler. He chased after his big brother, Peter. He adored his little sister, Nicole, when she joined our family. They all played together. The boys taught Nicole how to play video games, and they would laugh and have fun. Poor Nicole, she was out-numbered by boys!

On the first day of school, as I watched him, so excited, go out the door in his new clothes and carrying his lunchbox, I had no idea of the tragic journey that he and I would share.

School was not a happy experience for my boy. Although he was intellectually gifted, Daniel had poor social skills. He was awkward at sports, always the last chosen to play on a team. He was bullied and called ugly names. Nicole would tell me the horrible stories when my three kids came home from school.

Daniel joined the Cub Scouts, but he had difficulty making friends. He didn’t feel welcome.

By middle school, Daniel was sad, miserable, and becoming angry. This anger would grow and begin to be a problem. Daniel also developed very low self-esteem.

During high school, he spent more time in detention than he did in class. He started taking drugs. He hated his life. The drugs allowed him to escape from his emotional pain.

Daniel spent his days taking drugs, and writing poetry and stories. He read his stories to the homeless. Generous and kind to a fault, he would give his last dollar to a homeless person.

His poetry developed from his inner soul. The messages were dark and depressing. He painted self-portraits that revealed his internal demons.

Daniel was never truly drug-free despite hundreds of hours spent in treatment. He had a history of leaving treatment; tragically, the last time he left treatment in March of 2015, my precious boy, my Daniel, drowned in an Intracoastal Waterway.

Daniel was only 23 years old. His was a tormented, heart-breaking life. In retrospect, I believe that our community mental health system, coupled with the criminal justice system, failed my Daniel. He was never identified and treated effectively as a young person with a mental illness. And while in jail, he was assaulted, isolated and denied access to therapy, medication, or physicians to treat either his mental illness or his substance use. The system is broken for people like Daniel.

It is my wish that his life was not a life lived in vain. That I, through “The Addict’s Mom,” and with the help of TAM’s wonderful members, will persevere in Daniel’s name to bring awareness to and facilitate significant improvements in the fields of mental illness and addiction.

Rest In Peace My Boy. I will always love you.

About The Addict’s Mom

Founded 10 years ago by Barbara Theodosiou, “The Addict's Mom” (TAM) embraces and connects mothers and other family members who are struggling with a loved one who suffers from the disease of addiction. TAM offers mothers and other family members the opportunity for open, honest sharing Addicts_Mom_logo_1copy.jpgof their experiences, sorrows, pain, challenges and victories with their children. To learn more about The Addict’s Mom, please visit: For more writing samples featuring The Addict’s Mom members, check out the latest edition of the Sovereign Health Continuing Care newsletter. 

 O T H E R  H E A D L I N E S  O F  I N T E R E S T 

SARDAA Health Storylines

Schizophrenia and Related
Alliance of America

Help Guide

Alcoholics Anonymous

Mental Health America of
Los Angeles

Al-Anon Family Groups

American Psychiatric Association

Narcotics Anonymous


Nar-Anon Family Groups

Smart Recovery

Gamblers Anonymous

 A  N O T E  F R O M  T H E  M A N A G I N G  E D I T O R 

Sovereign Health is transitioning to a new e-mail marketing software system. Please make sure to add Sovereign Health announcements and newsletters to a safe sender e-mail list to protect your news from being filtered to your spam folder. As you receive your e-mails from Sovereign Health’s new system, please make sure to fill out the form below to customize the news you want to receive. We appreciate your loyalty to Sovereign Health news and hope to continue to provide editorial resources to further educate professionals, patients and readers on subjects that affect the future of treatment.

Rachael Mattice, Managing Editor for Sovereign Health

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