What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a therapeutic tool that uses technology to measure and provide you feedback on how your brain is operating. Neurofeedback systems use your brainwaves to control games where you and your therapist program the goals and parameters of the game. Over time your brain learns how to better control the games by altering brainwave patterns. For example, if your goal is to reduce anxiety, the game will slow down and stop working if your high-frequency, ‘anxious’ brainwaves are too high.
Neurofeedback is a fun and highly effective therapy for a wide range of problems and disorders, including:
Headaches and Migraines
How Does it Work?
Neurofeedback systems, combine electroencephalogram (EEG) technology and computer gaming software. Your therapist attaches a couple of very small sensors to your head that measure the brainwave frequencies at that location. The sensors are almost like stickers that attach to your scalp with a sticky, yet easily removable substance. You basically then just sit back, relax and play a game or watch a movie with your brain!
The computer software filters out specific frequency bandwidths and shows you second-by-second readings of your brainwaves. You and your therapist then set up 'reward’ or ‘inhibit’ parameters on these bandwidths that alter the game.
For instance, if you have excessive high-frequency brainwaves associated with anxiety, your therapist would set limits on that frequency bandwidth within the game that you are playing. When your high-frequency brainwaves are beyond the limits, the game immediately slows down and stops. As your high-frequency brainwaves lessen, the game starts back up again. It is important to note that there isn't anything you can consciously do to make the game work. Your brain learns how to play the game by associating the game 'working' with your lessened anxiety.
If you don't understand it all now, that's ok, ask your therapist any questions you might have.
How Long Does it Take?
A typical Neurofeedback session is 60min and is combined within that hour with talk therapy. The Neurofeedback training itself can take anywhere from 15min to 45min depending on the client.
Most people notice changes within the first 3-5 sessions.
It’s not uncommon to feel different after the first session.
Most common cases require between 10-30 sessions to stabilize emotional disorders. Of course, everyone’s brain and specific challenges are different so length of treatment varies from person to person.
How Do I Know if it's Right For me?
Because Neurofeedback is completely individualized to train your brainwave patterns, its uses and benefits are nearly endless.
Neurofeedback has been shown to help improve or treat everything from sleep and focus, to anxiety and depression, and even significant problems like seizure disorders and traumatic brain injuries. Neurofeedback is fun and safe to use, and can be easily added to your current therapy.
How Does it fit in with Psychotherapy?
The goals of psychotherapy are typically to think and feel better. Through the use of Neurofeedback, we are able to help people think and feel better sometimes faster than traditional talk therapy, and potentially reduce dependence on psychotropic medications. Neurofeedback can be used in addition to traditional talk therapy and is sometimes recommended as such.