WHAT IS NEUROFEEDBACK?
Neurofeedback is a way of improving brain function and brain regulation through selectively training brainwaves. The brain uses different brainwave frequencies to produce different states and to do different sorts of tasks. Neurofeedback allows a client, in conjunction with their clinician, to re-train the ‘blend’ of these different brainwaves.
Neurofeedback is a specialized form of biofeedback. It involves putting sensors on the head that pick up brainwave activity and send it to a computer. The computer then filters those brainwaves and gives feedback to the person whose brain is being trained about what their brain is doing. When their brainwaves move in the desired direction, they get positive feedback in the form of beeps, points or a visual display of some kind. When their brainwaves move in a less desirable direction, they also get feedback to indicate that. Our brains are made to respond to feedback, and without the person training necessarily doing anything different consciously, their brain begins to adapt their brainwaves to the desired balance.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A SESSION?
A typical session begins with a brief assessment and counseling session, during which the clinician assesses the client’s state and progress, and makes any appropriate adjustments to the training protocol.
During the neurofeedback session, the clinician will place sensors on the client’s head using EEG paste (which washes out easily.) The sensors are attached to an amplifier box that connects to a computer. The client then plays a simple, low stress video game that responds to the client’s brainwaves in real time. When the brainwaves move in the desired direction, the client is rewarded with points, beeps and visual feedback. After the session, clients are asked to take home and fill out a feedback sheet that helps to track their progress session by session.
WHO DOES IT HELP?
Neurofeedback has been found to be helpful with a broad spectrum of psychological problems, including ADHD, anxiety, depression and stress. In the FCA practice it is primarily used for clients who wish to improve their capacity for calm, clear-minded, low stress attention.
IS NEUROFEEDBACK AN ALTERNATIVE TO MEDICATION?
Neurofeedback has been found to be an alternative to medication in some cases of ADHD. It has also been found to be an effective stress reduction and relaxation modality, and can help clients who are being medicated for stress related disorders to reduce or eliminate medication over time, in consultation with their physician.
IS NEUROFEEDBACK COVERED BY INSURANCE?
Although a few insurance companies do have biofeedback/neurofeedback codes, reimbursement is rarely adequate. At FCA, neurofeedback is paid for directly by the client.
LINK(S) TO LEARN MORE:
BOOKS FOR FURTHER REFERENCE:
- A Symphony In The Brain, by Jim Robbins
- Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, by Sharon Begley
- The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge
- Biofeedback For The Brain, Paul G. Swingle, Ph.D.
- Getting Rid Of Ritalin, by Robert W. Hill, Ph.D and Eduardo Castro, M.D.
- ADD: The 20-Hour Solution, by Mark Steinberg, Ph.D. and Siegfried Othmer, Ph.D.
- Healing ADD, by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
- Neurofeedback In The Treatment Of Developmental Trauma, by Sebern Fisher
- The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind And Body In The Healing Of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.