What is Neurofeedback?

What is Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback (EEG biofeedback) is a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical, collaborative training method for rebalancing and re-regulating the brain wave frequencies that determine behavior, mood, memory, performance, sensory decoding (pain or pleasure) and thought creation.  Using a combination of cutting edge brain research, high-speed computer tracking, and algorhythms (behavior predicting formulas), neurofeedback helps you move your brain away from old, painful, self-defeating thoughts and behaviors, and creates new neural (brain) connections that are associated with focus, calmness, clarity, and motivation.

Neurofeedback begins with an assessment that helps you form 4 behavioral goals (i.e. increase length and depth of sleep, decrease anxiety or depression, increase memory and focus, decrease addictions, increase academic, sports or vocational performance), and then asks 90 specific questions that allow that program to tailor your training for your specific brain and goals.

Training takes place in a quiet and comfortable environment. Sensors that are attached to your scalp monitor minute fluctuations in brain wave frequencies as the program coaches you towards change by giving auditory and visual feedback (in real time) of how your brain waves are changing. This rewards the brain for formation of new, more productive thoughts and behavior, and inhibits old, non-productive thoughts and behavior. People who experience EEG neurofeedback report that they feel relaxed, less stressed, more focused, and are responsive rather than reactive to what life presents.

EEG neurofeedback has been approved by the FDA to treat stress, and has been found effective in reducing or alleviating PTSD, ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, rage and anger, pain associated with muscle tension held around injury, increasing athletic performance, and job effectiveness.

Sessions usually take place 2 – 3 x  per week for a 5 -10 week period (though they can be done as often as 5 times per week over a 4 week period). Research has shown that 50% of neurofeedback clients experience a sense of change after 2 sessions. We are looking for significant long lasting change and this is achieved in 90%  of clients after 20 sessions.

Neurofeedback is a technique in which we train the brain directly in its basic competences. The brain not only regulates all bodily functions, but also must take care of itself. In fact, most of the brain’s activity refers to itself. This activity must be organized, and we can attribute many of our problems in mental functioning to failures in such organization.  The EEG (Electroencephalogram) allows us to see the brain at work, and when the brain is not functioning well, the evidence often shows up in the EEG.   We can analyze the EEG into a variety of constituents, each of which appears to be responsible for some regulatory activity. By challenging the brain, much as you challenge your body in physical exercise, your brain can learn to function better.  But in contrast to physical exertion, in this particular exercise only the brain is working hard—and you don’t feel that!  What happens in practice is that we extract from the EEG the essential information on which we want you to train.  Typically this means showing you how large the EEG is at particular frequencies, what we call its amplitude. We ask you to try to change that amplitude over time, and we reward you for succeeding. How do you succeed, you ask?  We let your brain figure it out, and you have to “let” your brain do it, too.  We don’t really know how learning of any kind takes place, but we know that it does so.  And the brain can also learn about controlling itself better.  The brain manages many things with cyclical movement between the state of activation, and the state of relaxation, and we can observe this process in the EEG.  As we ask the brain to change its own activity level, we are effectively putting it on a “stair stepper.”   We ask the brain to change, it does so, and it also resists the change.  We ask it again, and it resists again.  In this push-pull fashion, the brain strengthens its regulatory capacities, and eventually the brain may be able to function well without the help of neurofeedback.  It will have learned better internal control.  Where does this matter?   First of all, it helps in managing our arousal level, our sleep-wake cycle. When you sleep more efficiently, you are more alert during the day.  It can help with anxiety and depression, and with pain syndromes like migraine or chronic pain.  Secondly, it can be helpful in managing attention–how well you can persist even at a boring task, for example. Thirdly, it can help you manage the emotions.  Emotions may feel like the real you, but your brain has something to do with 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 Neurofeedback training can be helpful, such as in cases of seizures, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, autism, and dementia. 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? Well, yes and no. If a child is known for his temper outbursts and he does the training, and the rages fall away, he is certainly different.  But the parents would say, we have our real son now.  A person should not be defined by their worst features. The training takes 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.  You may wonder, is there a completion to the training, or does it go on and on?  In order to reach a specific objective, the training generally just goes for a certain number of sessions.  If there is back-sliding after that, due to stresses in your life, a few booster sessions may be recommended. However, just as concert pianists practice more than the rest of us, rather than less, EEG training can be used without limit to enhance performance. This may be of interest to professional athletes, corporate executives, and performance artists who live in a very high-stress world. centerforintegratedtherapies.com

Several years ago while I was studying for my Masters of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling, I read a study about the amazing results of EEG Bio-neurofeedback. The article claimed that this form of “Brain Training,” could help people who suffer from depression to feel better without the use of pharmaceutical medications; it helps to relieve anxiety in the distressed and trains the brain to focus, helping people with ADHD and other concentration problems. At the time I read this article I did not know of anyone in my area who worked with EEG Neurofeedback, I searched for an internship in my area and could not find anyone who even knew what this modern technology was. So, I moved on to other interests of study and focus.

After years of searching for a way to learn more about EEG Neurofeedback and to train in it, I made contact with Dr. Curtis Schindeler. Dr. Schindeler invited me to learn how to use EEG Neurofeedback in the practice of Mental Health Counseling.  I visited him at his office and interviewed his clients who were treated with the Brain Paint Training (R), an EEG Neurofeedback system. I was amazed at how individuals who came to him with severe depression and suicidal thoughts had improved in just a few weeks, an individual who was a veteran of the war in Afghanistan was treated for PTSD with constant flashbacks, night terrors, intermittent explosiveness and suicidal thoughts was accomplishing his 20th session and reported how he no longer has flashbacks, anxiety, panic, depressed or suicidal thoughts, is reunited with his family and is no longer angry all of the time.  These and many other  testimonies from  Dr. Schindeler’s  clients convinced me that I was indeed connecting to the missing component in psychotherapy today, that is direct treatment of the brain as part of mental health counseling, through EEG Neurofeedback.

After completing a time of training with Dr. Schindeler at his Sarasota Fl., practice: The Center for Integrated Therapies, he joined with me at my practice, Urgent Care Counseling, LLC and continue to train and assist me in bringing this amazing Brain Training to my practice. Now, I too have seen clients who had been tormented by years of disassociation from ritualistic childhood physical and sexual abuse find peace and calm in their life for the first time. Others who suffered with self-defeating thoughts of depression, and manic depressive disorders have found the joy of living daily with renewed love for life and energy. Clients who were previously not sleeping are now reporting improved sleep, better sexual experiences, decreased or diminished anxiety, panic and unfounded fears. Headache suffers are reporting that they no longer have headaches or migraines. These are just a few of the amazing results our clients are experiencing through the use of EEG Neurofeedback with psychotherapy.

Since I have brought EEG Neurofeedback into my practice I have seen tremendous improvement in my clients from better concentration and improved socialization in my clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and ADD/ADHD, to reduced anxiety, panic and mania for those that I have seen suffering with  Anxiety disorders, PTSD or Bipolar disorders. I have seen depression and lack of motivation lifted in individuals who were suicidal and often confined to their homes. My Facebook page has a special interview with a client who had a traumatic brain injury from a car accident over a decade ago; check out how she not only was relieved of her depression from the loss of use of the right side of her body, see how she also regained control over her foot that had otherwise dragged when she walked. urgentcarecounseling@facebook.com.

If you know of anyone in the West Central Region of Florida who is suffering from PTSD, ADD, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or any other dysregulation disorder, and is not finding relief from medication alone please contact us at:  urgentcarecounseling.com, in the greater Tampa Bay area North of Tampa and St. Petersburg, or  centerforintegratedtherapies.com referral to a provider anywhere else in Florida.

More information from Brain Paint (R)  about Neurofeedback.

What is EEG biofeedback, also known as, neurofeedback?

Think of your brain as a race car, capable of incredible performance. Now imagine a driver behind the wheel who does not know how to properly shift gears. It is for this reason that people find their brain encumbered by problems. Brain wave training teaches the brain to work at its fullest capacity, to switch gears as needed to improve its self-regulation of thoughts, feelings and focus.

For more information, please watch the following video: What is neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback – Efficacious and Specific (Level 5 Research Outcome) for ADD and ADHD

Neurofeedback applied to developing a practice of mindfulness or “MindSight” (a form of mindfulness)