Common Questionsfaqs about neurofeedback / Biofeedback
What is the difference between Biofeedback and Neurofeedback?
Biofeedback is the general term for any therapeutic intervention that uses medical equipment to monitor a body function that is otherwise outside of our awareness (a blood pressure cuff, a thermometer, a PET scan are all medical devices that can be used for biofeedback interventions). Neurofeedback specifically refers to biofeedback interventions using brain wave readings (also called an electroencephalogram).
How is Neurofeedback Done?
How Does Neurofeedback Work with Counseling?
Neurofeedback is often the first strategy used because it takes advantage of the brain’s ability to change itself. Resistance to change is often a major stumbling block in Counseling and Neurofeedback can be an excellent tool to assist a person of any age to make changes in behavior and thinking patterns more easily. The decision to do a combination of Neurofeedback and Counseling is based on the information shared by the client during the assessment process. The goals of Counseling and Neurofeedback are often to reduce stress, improve focus, memory and decision making, increase productivity and emotional resistance, enhance restorative sleep and strengthen positive interpersonal relationships. We see both services as complementary modalities. Because each client is unique, individual circumstances are always the driving factor in determining the most appropriate services.
What research has been done on Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback has been researched extensively for the last 40 years and has been found to help remediate a wide variety of concerns including anxiety, mood regulation, focus and concentration issues, chronic pain issues, and sleep onset and maintenance issues. For more information on the research, visit the EEG Info website.
Can a successful outcome be predicted?
It is not possible to predict with certainty that training will be successful for a particular individual. The effectiveness of the training, however, can usually be assessed early on in the course of training. Adverse effects are rare, and when they do occur, they can be reversed because neurofeedback promotes brain plasticity.
Why does neurofeedback work?
The brain is amazingly adaptable or “plastic” and capable of learning. It can learn to improve its own performance when it is given cues— feedback— about what to change. All learning actually depends on feedback, and the brain is the part of us that is most devoted to learning. By making information available to the brain about how it is functioning, and asking it to make adjustments, it can learn to do so. When the brain is doing a good job of regulating itself, the person will feel calm, alert, and attentive. Each session challenges the trainee to maintain this “high-performance” state. Gradually, the brain learns, just like it learns everything else, and with sufficient training, it typically retains the regulation it has gained.
How long does training take?
EEG training is a learning process, and therefore results are seen gradually over time. Indications of progress, however, can usually be seen within 10– 20 sessions. Some conditions can require over 100 sessions, but the trainee will know it is helping long before all symptoms remit.
How frequently should training sessions occur?
In the initial stages, the sessions should be regular, optimally two times a week. Think of learning to play the piano. After the brain begins to consolidate its new learning, sessions can be less frequent. There is no way to anticipate how many sessions an individual will need.
What Conditions and Why Are So Many Different Ones Helped by Neurofeedback?
Many disorders are caused by poorly functioning patterns in the brain. Now that extensive research has shown the brain can restructure itself and learn more adaptive patterns at any age the likelihood of symptom improvement becomes much more understandable. Neurofeedback is actually changing imbalances and altering brain pathways, not targeting specific disorders. This amazing ability of the brain is particularly noticeable in cases of traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Stroke or other physical trauma to the brain. Regardless of whether certain areas of the brain are overactive or underactive, Neurofeedback can encourage the brain to self-regulate and ultimately produce more healthful brainwave patterns and change thinking and behavior patterns.
If I’m Taking Medication Can I Still Do Neurofeedback?
This excellent question is asked by a large number of potential clients who contact me. The answer is yes! Many people seek Neurofeedback training with a goal of alleviating, decreasing or discontinuing medications. I am happy to work collaboratively with your prescribing physician, but you and he/she make the decisions regarding medication. My roll is to support those individuals or parents wishing to explore non-medication alternatives that offer pathways to positive change.
My doctor is skeptical about neurofeedback. What should I do?
Your doctor may not know of this specific type of biofeedback. He or she should maintain a healthy skepticism about any new approach claiming these kinds of benefits across disorders. Ask your doctor to examine the recent research on the effectiveness of neurofeedback in treating various disorders such as attention deficit disorder, PTSD, and epilepsy. It is most readily available at www.isnr.org/ resources/ comprehensive-bibliography.cfm.
MA, LPC, LMHC,
Clinical Psychophysiologist and
Behavioral Health Specialist
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