What is Neurofeedback Therapy?
Neurofeedback, also referred to as EEG Biofeedback or Neurotherapy, is a state-of-the-art, therapeutic training tool that has been used successfully in improving a variety of health conditions, addictions or increase personal potential.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) is used to monitor brain wave activity and “feedback” information to the brain about its activity. A Neurofeedback professional provides the necessary instruction and interpretation to encourage the brain to function within a more appropriate pattern level. This involves increasing or decreasing certain brain wave frequency activities at certain locations. This results in the brain learning to function with greater control and stability through self-regulation.
EEG Neurofeedback has received a lot of media attention in recent years. Newspapers and magazine articles, as well as television reports, have cited cases where EEG Neurofeedback has helped people with serious and debilitating neurological, addictive, and behavioral problems with no other therapies seem to work.
What are the clinical applications?
Conditions that may benefit from EEG Neurofeedback training include: Addiction, anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), autoimmune dysfunctions, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), attachment disorder, behavior disorders, seizure disorders, autism, chronic pain, headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, stress and sleep disorders, learning disorders, anger disorders and many others.
EEG Neurofeedback can be equally effective when used to improve personal performance, such as developing memory skills, focusing abilities, increasing concentration, and much more.
Neurofeedback Therapy and Addiction
Neurofeedback Therapy results in very low relapse rates when combined with conventional treatments. This is, in part, due to the fact that it seems to function as a “mental antabuse.” There have been several studies showing that Neurofeedback training appears to have the potential for decreasing alcohol/drug craving and aids in relapse prevention.
Many practitioners in the chemical dependency field have demonstrated that intensive Neurofeedback-based treatment has exerted a positive influence on a number of factors which contribute to chemical dependency including stress levels, depressive personality traits, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic relapses.
Additionally, studies have shown that Neurofeedback training can increase the retention of clients in alcohol/drug treatment programs while decreasing the relapse rate whereas traditional interventions for chemical dependency often result in high attrition and release rates.
In his book, “Getting Started with Neurofeedback”, John Demos reports a study done in a California treatment substance abuse facility with Neurofeedback where after 1 year, 60% remained abstinent indicating that Neurofeedback is an effective treatment for substance abuse in conjunction with traditional therapies.
How does Neurofeedback Therapy work?
Sensors are applied to specific areas of the scalp and ears using a special conductive gel. These sensors transmit brain wave activity to an EEG that measures and records the frequencies being used to perform a particular task. These frequencies are divided into bands that are displayed on a computer screen, which appear to the trainee in the form of a video display. During Neurofeedback, the trainee effects the video display using his/her brain to reach the mental state in which the desired brain wave is achieved. When the desired brain wave is reached, the brain is “rewarded” and learns to direct itself toward a more desirable performance level. The brain wave frequencies targeted are specific to each individual. There are no medications. The procedure is completely painless and non-invasive.
Is treatment successful/permanent?
When the brain wave frequencies move into the desired frequency pattern, symptoms may be greatly decreased or entirely eliminated. Treatment is then considered complete, and the results are permanent. It may not be possible to predict how successful training may be for every individual, but a reasonable expectation of results can usually be assessed.
Some health conditions are severe, and in many cases, working in conjunction with a physician, Neurofeedback training can offer hope for improvement and be an effective alternative to medications or drugs, often reducing or eliminating the need for them.
Reports have documented significant improvements for people with addictions, learning disorders, seizure disorders, closed head injuries and many others. The outcomes achieved using EEG Neurofeedback as reported in these articles are remarkable.
The overall success rate of EEG Neurofeedback training is reported to be more than 85% for some disorders.
What will happen at the first session?
The first session will include an interview to gather information about your symptoms and current health status. A full brain map, QEEG (Quantitative EEG) or other assessment tools will be used for comparison purposes. Assessment testing will determine where the brain is doing its job well and where it needs help. Some Neurofeedback practitioners may require more extensive testing both before and during the actual “training” sessions.
How many sessions are required?
The number of training sessions required will vary depending on the specific condition being addressed. Treatment periods have been known to range between 20 and 80 sessions per QEEG (20 to 40 minutes per session) 2 to 3 times a week. Your Neurofeedback professional will determine the actual number of sessions required, and assist in establishing the schedule that best fits your goals.