Union Salutes Military Appreciation Month with a Feature on an Alumna Who Specializes in Traumatic Brain Injury

By May 9, 2019Alumni
Dr. Mary Lee Etsy

May is Military Appreciation Month, when Americans are reminded of the important role the U.S. Armed Forces have played in the history and development of our country.

Union is honored to feature alumna Dr. Mary Lee Esty, LCSW-C, Ph.D. in recognition of Military Appreciation Month. Dr. Esty is a clinical social worker and founder of Brain Wellness and Biofeedback Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Esty specializes in neurofeedback for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Her published research documenting the efficacy of neurofeedback (NFB) for recovery from concussion/TBI and post-traumatic stress appears in Military Medicine, and Jrl. of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, among others. Results from a study of NFB treatment with wounded combat veterans conducted in collaboration with the Traumatic Injury Research Program at the Military Medical School in Bethesda awaits publication.

She co-authored the book Conquering Concussion, Healing TBI Symptoms with Neurofeedback and Without Drugs, which won a Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014.  It is a collection of neurofeedback treatment outcomes through case histories from young children to wounded and suicidal veterans. One combat outcome was also published in the American Psychiatric Association book, Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice, 2017.

Dr. Esty is a Senior Fellow in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback in the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance and a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Her interest in the field began in 1996 with a National Institute of Health grant.  She credits her Union degree with elevating her career. Find out more in the Q&A below.


Q & A with Dr. Esty

What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

It would have been impossible to accomplish the things I have without the Union degree. I doubt that I would have been able to increase the impact of this branch of alternative medicine without this degree.  The entire Union experience opened my thinking to new ways of evaluating information, especially as I was just starting to use NFB. This therapeutic intervention continues to expand in health care, opening multiple fields for researchers and practitioners.


What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

The excitement shared with fellow learners. In many fields there are people who fear change and say what won’t work. I never heard that at Union. While developing the learning agreement for my degree, my association with UI&U opened doors into programs that would have been otherwise impossible. Saying I was a Union student worked magic. I can’t imagine that I would have had as much fun as I still do without Union’s influence.


If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

Whatever you do, hold your beliefs lightly because they may change. A Union professor said this in the colloquium. Its message has never left me.


What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

Professionally, it is seeing people recover and being able to live productive lives. Personally, it is seeing our children and grandchildren thrive with bright futures ahead. My husband made this journey possible and he continues to support my efforts. Retirement sounds boring.


What is your passion away from work?

I was a violinist but can no longer play. However, our grandchildren carry on the musical tradition, giving me great pleasure. I love hiking in the Colorado mountains and never have enough time for reading.


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