Sipora, LCSW - Journey of a Therapist Embracing Misophonia

S7 E24 - 1/25/2024
In this episode, Adeel converses with licensed therapist Sipora Weissman about her journey with misophonia, various treatment approaches, and theories underlying these treatments. Weissman shares her personal experience with misophonia, which began subtly in her youth and escalated after a specific incident in college led to severe reactions to noise. She explores her transition from being a sensitive child to struggling with panic attacks and chronic fatigue syndrome exacerbated by misophonia. Weissman delves into her professional exploration of misophonia treatments, including memory reconsolidation, coherence therapy, and internal family systems, while detailing her learning process and discoveries. The conversation transitions into a deep dive into coherence therapy, explaining it as a transformative approach based on memory reconsolidation, aiming to eliminate the learned perception of sounds as threats. Weissman recounts her experience of consulting with notable figures in the therapy world, emphasizing the importance of understanding the emotional learning behind misophonia and the potential for transformational change.


Adeel [0:01]: Welcome to the Misophonia Podcast. This is Season 7, Episode 24. My name's Adeel Ahmad, and I have Misophonia. This week, I'm excited to bring my conversation with Sephora Weissman, a licensed therapist in California. We've talked a number of times in the past, and this is the first time we're discussing Misophonia on the podcast. We talk about her own personal journey with Misophonia, but then we get right into various topics like... memory reconsolidation, coherence therapy, internal family systems, medications, the nervous system, of course, and lots more. Really interesting stuff at times. Philosophical conversation. You know how I love that. And I think there's something new in here for everyone. After the show, let me know what you think. You can reach out by email at hello at or hit me up on Instagram or Facebook at Misophonia Podcast. And by the way, if you do like this episode, Head over and leave a quick review or rating wherever you listen to this show, on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or wherever. It helps move us up in the search results and reach more listeners. My usual announcements, of course, thanks for the ongoing support of our Patreon supporters. If you feel like contributing, you can read all about the various levels at slash misophonia podcast. And I need to mention, of course, the book Sounds Like Misophonia by Dr. It is now available everywhere. You can order online or ask for it at your favorite bookstore. This episode is also sponsored by Bazel, the personal journaling app that I developed. It provides AI-powered insights into your journaling entries and guides you with new writing prompts. Based on those insights, you can try different therapy approaches or modalities. It's available again for iOS and Android. Check the show notes or go to All right, now here's my conversation with Sephora. Sapporo, welcome to the podcast. Great to have you.

Sipora [2:02]: Yeah, thank you. I'm excited to be on.

Adeel [2:05]: I probably gave an intro before this audio began, but do you want to kind of, in your own words, kind of tell us a little bit about where you are, what you do?

Sipora [2:16]: Yeah, I'm a licensed clinical social worker in Ventura, California, although I... I meet with people online all over the state of California. And what do I do? I do a lot of things. I see people with misophonia. I see people with what I call mind-body syndromes, like chronic pain, fibromyalgia. Fatigue syndromes, a lot of these issues where you go to the doctor and they're like, we don't know what's wrong with you. So I see those types of people. I see people, highly sensitive people. I see that. So I see, I think my practice is basically sensitive people and the things that happen to them. And I try to help people with those things. So that's in a nutshell, that's what I do. or the people I meet.

Adeel [3:20]: Yeah, and I probably mentioned this before too, but you're very active on social media, Instagram, so you throw a lot of wisdom out there, a lot of content, so people can definitely check it out and see all the things you work on. But yeah, maybe, do you want to start with, I guess, you mentioned you talk to a lot of people about misophonia. Maybe we can start there in terms of how do you find people and what do you tell them and how do you solve their misophonia?

Sipora [3:48]: It's a big question. It's funny because you and I spoke, I think, a few weeks ago. And I get really excited about misophonia. And then a week goes by and I'm like, oh, no, this is hard. And then another week goes by and I go, wait a second. I'm excited. I know what's going on. And then I go, there's a lot of things going on here. So... And I spoke to you last. I was more in my excited phase. I'm still excited. Yeah. But I'm realizing how complex misophonia is.

Adeel [4:29]: Well, it's part of the context of a lot of complex things are usually happening with a person, probably.

Sipora [4:36]: Yeah. Yeah. And I have some ideas and questions, but I guess the nutshell of how I got into it was I was always a sensitive kid growing up to certain noises, but it didn't give me a big reaction. I didn't get angry. I didn't get anxious. I just turned the clock off or asked if I couldn't sleep. It wasn't disruptive to my life. Then when I was in college, I had this event where I was next to a girl. my dorm room and she was playing bass all night long until and I couldn't sleep and I started having panic attacks had to leave college and after that event I was never able to really be in an apartment if I heard neighbor noise I'd I'd kind of go into a panic attack and cry um it was yeah so it was um really terrible and I saw this started a long time ago I guess in my 20s And I saw a therapist. I was living in New York. I worked as a TV producer before this. So this is kind of a second career for me. But I lived in New York. And I saw CBT. I saw a hypnotist. I saw the best advice was to pour out. You have from my therapist at the time was you have to live on a top floor apartment. So. yeah and then I um oh yes then what happened was I moved into an apartment and it was I won't get into the whole thing but it was really really bad and I ended up um I'm like what do I do do I soundproof the wall and I went to a psychiatrist and he actually put me on a great med um that helped a lot and um yes and the issue with i think my backstory is i'm giving you some backstory is that what happens with me when so i always think a lot of things that i treat are things that i've experienced in my life is that i've had um also in my 20s chronic fatigue syndrome and it really played into the misophonia because if my nervous system was overreactive for too long, I would have a crash of fatigue where I couldn't function. So that's where it got really complicated and really, really bad because I couldn't even work. So that's when I saw this psychiatrist and he put me on this med and things got better. Fast forward, then I moved to LA 10 years ago. was having side effects from the med, started coming off the med or just also just, yeah, coming off the med and a little bit. And I moved, when I lived in LA, things weren't horrible for me. Things weren't bad. But then I moved up here to Ventura County and I started realizing, I'm actually, wait, I'm going to go back. I was in, I was in LA and, And I was like, what's going on in misophonia world? And I was getting my master's degree in social work. And I started reading about memory reconsolidation. And I was like, huh, what's this? I spoke to a few people about it and I read a few books and I was really interested and I was going to do a therapy and I was like, I'm not bothered so much. I'm in school. I don't want to spend thousands of dollars right now. So I didn't do it. Then I hope this is making sense. I moved to Ventura County. I think three years later in a house. And I started noticing outside noises bother me. And I'm like, what the hell? So I'm like, what's going on in Misophonia world? I think this was like three or four years ago. And yeah, I found, I think, Tom Dozier online.

Adeel [9:00]: Everyone finds him at some point looking for Misophonia.

Sipora [9:06]: And he was really nice and he said, why don't you do my therapist course? And I did the therapist course and I got, wow, this is great. Wow, I wish I knew this information a long time ago. And I was a new therapist and I started getting some clients. And then I was like... crap I don't know what I'm doing here um you know so then I really had to start I consulted with the very few people that are in this world of misophonia treating it and being like what's going on how do I help these people learning more learning more and learning more And yes, I don't want to keep, is there anything, I'm talking a lot here. I can keep going to where I'm at, where I've traveled to.

Adeel [10:01]: Yeah, we're following your journey. Yeah, we're following your journey. And I was thinking, because this is probably around the time. I feel like we kind of first crossed paths was at one of the conventions. Is this around that time?

Sipora [10:15]: Yes. That was a big point for me is, um, a few years ago doing the misophonic, um, convention. That was a really important, um, thing for me. Um, because, um, Yeah, I think I connected with you. I connected with Sarah Bidler, who is probably like the kindest person ever and very nice.

Adeel [10:38]: I agree with that.

Sipora [10:41]: she's just very very very kind um yeah so it was just I was just learning a lot more and then long story short I I was like this is all not enough to treat to treat this there has to be something else going on here and I learned um I learned sequent repatterning because I'm a little insane. And I learned it from Chris Pearson, who's also very nice. But the issue was I think a lot of that therapy was hypnotherapy and I'm not a hypnotist. So I had to say, but honestly also I said as I did this, I said, what are the... And I started using it with my clients and I said, what are these really important points here of what I felt? And this is a personal opinion. And part of it was coherence therapy. And part of it was internal family systems. I started asking people online, like, what has helped you the most? And a lot of people were like, the parts work. I think people didn't understand what was the coherence therapy.

Adeel [11:59]: Yeah, maybe it's worth defining a couple of these things. Especially, yeah, the sequent patterning. Coherence therapy. Actually, I'm not even sure exactly what that is.

Sipora [12:10]: Yeah.

Adeel [12:11]: I'm familiar with and how it relates to parts therapy. Yeah. They seem to be all kind of the same.

Sipora [12:16]: They're all. Yeah. Well, secret repatterning was developed by Chris Pearson, I guess, a long time ago. And it seems sequential. It's a very specific way that he does it and wants his therapist to do it. And honestly, I separated a bit from that world, so I don't want to say anything that is wrong. But it's a lot of hypnotherapy. I think there's some neuro-linguistic programming techniques thrown in there. He uses coherence therapy in the... sequent repatterning therapy. So it was a lot of things. So that's sequent repatterning. But then what I... I try to look at things and say intuitively to myself, what do I think feels right about what I'm doing and focusing on to help people with? And the coherence therapy was really interesting. And I really dove into that. And that was... Started by Bruce Ecker and Laurel Hulley. I think that's how you say her last name. I think a long time ago. But now all of a sudden it's getting really popular. And I think maybe because of social media. So coherence therapy is based on the idea of memory reconsolidation. So I trained in it and now I consult with Bruce Ecker and I've consulted with a lot of my, with him, with my misophonia clients and I've done sessions on myself with him. So coherence therapy, the idea of it is the idea of transformational change and that a lot of therapies that are more cognitive based can be competing, I guess, with something going on. So it's the idea of misophonia and coherence therapy, which I believe is it's a learned behavior. It's an emotional learning. So misophonia was learned by the brain. And it's what I think is the brain thinks sound is a threat. Um, which I also saw in your book was described very well. Um, talk about that after. Um, so the brain views misophony as a threat, but why does it, why does it do that? And it was, I believe something was learned a long time ago by your brain that linked sound to threat. So, you know, He would say things where cognitive therapies can be great and helpful and are important, they might not change that original learning in the brain. Whereas a therapy that brings about memory reconsolidation literally makes that old learning go away and doesn't come back. That's a big statement, I guess, to say something like that. But that's the premise of coherence therapy is that, yeah, it's a new learning comes in and the old learning is erased.

Adeel [15:47]: so yeah so then i guess yeah the next kind of like uh questions are like well obviously like how does it do the erasing and also how do you find what needs to be erased yes the same kind of process for everybody or

Sipora [16:02]: yes so um it gets complicated and i'll explain it but this is just the basics of coherence therapy um and i hope i'm doing it justice as i explain it um so there are a lot of therapies that can bring about transformational change memory consolidation um and they are more experiential therapies which mean that in this sense that you're going back in. You're not just talking about the things that happened to you. Maybe this happened or this happened or I had this trauma. It's not that. You're going back in. So great therapies that I like for this are like IFS, right? You're not just talking about what happened to you.

Adeel [16:53]: Not to go talk to you and be like, Gary, this is my past or whatever.

Sipora [16:57]: Right, right. You're going back in EMDR. You know, EMDR, you are literally bringing up, you know, the therapist will guide you to bring up what was the worst part of that memory. Can you feel it in your body? What are the feelings that go with it? It's like you're bringing it back up so those kind of those old neural networks are brought up. So sometimes people are like, well, I don't know. Maybe I don't know what that memory was. And the beauty of coherence therapy is the first part of it is the discovery phase. So you're doing this discovery phase around the misophonia. So it might not just be like, what was your first memory? It might be like, let's talk about what it's like to have misophonia. Can you... share with me a recent time that you got bothered what happened you know um a great question is is there times where it doesn't where it's the same sound happening but you it's in different locations and and you don't get bothered so much But then it's really dissecting what's happening, what's going on there. So it's really going kind of deep into this old stuff. And then the therapist might ask, there's something about you. And maybe it's like, I feel helpless. I feel helpless. I feel alone and stuck or whatever that is. And for everybody, it's different. That's the thing too. That's why it's really important to do this discovery work. This is reminding me when I was a child. and you know my stepmother was abusive to me and i had nowhere to go and so it's like so it's it's and it could take a few sessions of this discovery work so yeah yeah it sounded like uh if i'm hearing the process it's like um yeah you start with a recent memory of obviously it's funny trigger or a lack of um and then

Adeel [19:26]: yeah i guess you start to recognize those feelings and then at some point you make the jump to when did i feel like this in the past kind of thing um kind of part of the process it's yeah it's very similar to ifs of people here which is internal family systems which is

Sipora [19:45]: um talking about parts right i have a part of me that reacts i have a part of me that's hyper vigilant to sounds i have a part you know and it's dissecting the parts a little bit and then you kind of find out what is the part protecting you know or how long has this part been yeah you know