Neurofeedback is a technique in which we train the brain to help improve its ability to regulate all bodily functions and to take care of itself. When the brain is not functioning well, evidence of this often shows up in the EEG (Electroencephalogram). By challenging the brain, much as you challenge your body in physical exercise, we can help your brain learn to function better.
A better functioning brain can improve sleep patterns. When you sleep more efficiently, you are more alert during the day. It can help with anxiety and depression, and with syndromes like migraine or chronic pain. Secondly, it can be helpful in managing attention – how well you can persist even at a boring task. Thirdly, it can help you manage the emotions. Emotions may feel like the real you, but your brain has a lot to say about how you feel and react. If the emotions are out of control, that’s trainable. If they aren’t there—as in lack of empathy, for example—that, too, is trainable.
Finally, there are some specific issues where the EEG neurofeedback training can be helpful, such as in cases of seizures, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and autism. In these instances the training does not so much get rid of the problem as it simply organizes the brain to function better in the context of whatever injury or loss exists.
Once you accept the possibility that this training might be effective for you, the next question is: Will this training change who you are? If a child known for his temper outbursts does the training and the rages fall away, he is certainly different but the parents would say, we have our real son now. Their worst features should not define a person. The training brings you closer to who you really are. That is our experience. And because this training really allows your true self to emerge, others may notice the changes in you even before you do.
Counseling & Neurofeedback
How does a session work?
An initial interview is done to obtain a description of symptoms, and to get a picture of the health history and family history. Some testing may be done as well but in most the cases the initial interview is enough to get a good picture of overall functioning. Typically, the initial interview does take the entire first session as it is necessary to establish the appropriate training protocols. The EEG training’s typically last about 30 minutes to an hour, and are conducted from one to five times per week depending on the severity of the symptoms. Some improvement is generally seen within ten sessions but can take as many as 20 before any change is noted depending on the severity of the symptoms and the information provided by the client and the frequency of the sessions. Clients that have a difficult time attending weekly session or have more significant symptoms will see the benefits of Neurofeedback at a much slower rate. Once learning is consolidated, the benefit appears to be permanent in most cases.
The EEG biofeedback training is a painless, non-invasive procedure with limited side effects that cannot be changed by more neurofeedback. Typically one or more sensors are placed on the scalp, and one to each ear. The brain waves are monitored by means of an amplifier and a computer-based instrument that processes the signal and provides the proper feedback. This is displayed to the trainee by means of a video game or other video display, along with audio signals. The trainee is asked to make the video game go with his brain. As activity in a desirable frequency band increases, the video game moves faster, or some other reward is given. As activity in an adverse band increases, the video game is inhibited. Gradually, the brain responds to the cues that it is being given, and a “learning” of new brain wave patterns takes place. The new pattern is one which is closer to what is normally observed in individuals without such disabilities.
Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback improves consciousness, which is the state of being aware, especially of something within oneself. Alpha-Theta incorporates guided imagery to establish objectives to change in one’s life. There are many suggested uses for Alpha-Theta training that have developed over the years.
Many substance abuse treatment programs are using Alpha-Theta training with an advertised 80% success rate when coupled with psychotherapy for addictions. Other suggested uses for Alpha-Theta include post traumatic stress disorder, major illness, loss of function associated with disease and normal aging, family changes, preparation for death and unresolved emotional issues. Alpha-Theta can also be used to improve performance and productivity. Using guided imagery, one can envision the feeling and scene of how it would look to achieve a set of goals through focusing on the smallest detail of success. Guided imagery is often used in sports to achieve success by envisioning that success on the field or court. This imagery work, combined with Alpha-Theta training creates a safe environment to train and change the brain functions, increasing productivity or improving outcomes. Alpha-Theta works to change the self-image using a script to outline specifically how a person wants to see himself, adding optimal brain training, which brings about regulation to manage stressful situations and stay in a calm and focused state. The calming effect of neurofeedback can actually improve speed and performance as it takes less energy to navigate emotional events thus performing better.
Neurofeedback and medications
With successful Neurofeedback training, medications targeting brain function may no longer be needed, or they may be needed in much lower dosages, as the brain takes over the role of regulating itself. It is important for clients to communicate with their prescribing physician regarding neurofeedback and medications.
Does Neurofeedback cure these conditions?
In the case of organic brain disorders, neurofeedback can oly be a matter of getting the brain to function better rather than curing a condition. When it comes to problems of dysregulation, there is not a disease to be cured. The word “cure” does not apply to Neurofeedback as the focus is placed on the symptoms of disorders and cure would not apply. It is not possible to predict with certainty that training will be successful for a condition. But for the more common conditions we see, a reasonable prediction of outcome is usually possible. More important, however, the effectiveness of the training can usually be assessed early during training. For most conditions, there are no known adverse side effects of the training, if it is conducted under professional guidance.
Your physician may be skeptical?
Your doctor may not know of this specific type of biofeedback. He or she will maintain a healthy skepticism about any new approach claiming numerous benefits. If your doctor is familiar with EEG biofeedback in general, he may still be thinking in terms of the more common early experiments with alpha wave training, rather than with the training we are dealing with here. Ask your doctor to examine the recent research on the effectiveness of EEG biofeedback in treating various disorders such as attention deficit disorder and epilepsy. The following references are a place where he or she can start: www.eegspectrum.com
The Muse headset is a multi-sensor meditation device that provides real-time feedback on your brain activity, heart rate, breathing, and body movements to help you build a consistent meditation practice. This technique can be helpful for those who struggle with managing stress, focus (ADHD) and their mood. Benefits can include:
- Mind: Real-time brainwave feedback (EEG) teaches you the art of focus.
- Heart: Tune into your heart rate to optimize performance.
- Body: Discover how your meditation posture can bring you physical relaxation.
- Breath: Learn how to use your breath to find calm and fight stress.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on helping people heal symptoms related to disturbing life events and/or trauma. There have been numerous controlled studies demonstrating the effectiveness of EMDR in assisting people with healing traumatic memories. In fact, it is believed that EMDR can assist individuals in healing their traumas in a much shorter time than with other forms of psychotherapy. Furthermore, EMDR can be successfully used in conjunction with other forms of psychotherapy.
Currently, EMDR is the most researched psychotherapeutic treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Moreover, EMDR may be efficacious in treating other mental disorders including phobias, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, as well as, assisting people with performance enhancement, etc.
Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) is an adaptive, short-term psychological helping-process that focuses solely on an immediate and identifiable problem. It can include pre-incident preparedness to acute crisis management to post-crisis follow-up. Its purpose is to enable people to return to their daily routine more quickly and with less likelihood of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people's difficulties, and so change the way they feel.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and it is now recognized as the gold standard psychological treatment for this population.
School Intervention Services by providing onsite counseling at school. A good number of Educators continue to be concerned about resources or the lack there of for struggling students and those with diverse learning and behavioral needs. Our staff is experienced with assessing school needs at the Administrative level to the classroom level. With the increase of bullying and problems associated with social media, the school has been a playground for students who are experiencing these types of difficulties not to be successful in the classroom.
As mental health providers, we want to assist children to receive a quality education. We will work with the school to assist them to provide that quality education and facilitate an environment where all the children’s learning potential is maximized, in class time will increase and behaviors will decrease.
Pet Therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders.
Play Therapy is a form of counseling or psychotherapy that uses play to communicate with and help people, especially children, to prevent or resolve psychosocial challenges. This is thought to help them towards better social integration, growth and development, emotional modulation, and trauma resolution.
TF-CBT is a conjoint child and parent psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events. It is a components-based treatment model that incorporates trauma-sensitive interventions with cognitive behavioral, family, and humanistic principles and techniques. Children and parents learn new skills to help process thoughts and feelings related to traumatic life events; manage and resolve distressing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related traumatic life events; and enhance safety, growth, parenting skills, and family communication.