It is Neurofeedback Month!
We are learning more about this exciting natural and non-invasive treatment for different mental health or cognitive conditions.
Here are our top FAQ’S about Neurofeedback with Stephanie Gibson.
First off, what is Neurofeedback?
Basically, Neurofeedback is brain training. It is a way that we are able to look at your brainwaves – we see the state it is in and then we work to improve it.
How does it work?
Neurofeedback works by strengthening the pathways in the brain – much like strengthening your muscles. The more you use them, the stronger they become. We use an EEG to look at your brain with electrodes (that are completely pain free and non-invasive). Then, when we get an understanding of your brain activity, we use games to train your brain to become more balanced, focused and efficient.
What should I expect when I come in for a Neurofeedback session?
First off, we would sit down and review what you are looking to achieve and your goals. It could be reducing anxiety/depression, reducing headaches, for better memory, for a better sleep, for focus (ADHD) for helping with PTSD, etc. There are many conditions that can be treated. Then, we use the EEG to look at your brain waves in real-time. We place one electrode on 5 points on your head to see the current specific brain activity. The information I gather helps me develop an individualized protocol for everyone, so there is no generic treatments. It gives me a look at your actual brain activity, and I build your training from there.
Once we establish a baseline, then we use a variety of different games on the computer to start to train your brain activity.
What are the games like?
The games are all a little different so we can have a multitude of different methods to achieve the best results. With the electrodes in place, the patient plays the games with their minds. The goal is simple – reward good brain function with doing better at the game or getting more points. In some games it might display your brain activity as too slow or too fast with colors and amounts, so we try to speed/slow your activity to get to that ‘just right’ speed.
The key to understand is we have these brain waves all the time, but we can get stuck in one way or the other without being balanced. If you’re stuck in too fast we see a lot more symptoms of anxiety, worry, and over-thinking. Alternatively, too slow can be inattention, inability to focus, or depression etc.
How well you are doing in the game is entirely dependent by the brainwaves you’re producing, so there is no controller or anything else to play the game with – all the while I am looking at the ‘behind the scenes’ data of the progress we are making.
What is the purpose of the game?
The more often a person is making rewarded brain activity, the more efficient the brain will be at producing that activity. It is strengthening the pathways in the brain. That means that at first the games can be difficult, but over time it gets easier as the pathways strengthen.
How often do you recommend doing Neurofeedback?
At the beginning, the training time is shorter because it can be quite exhausting- it really makes your brain work. Then over time we are able to do longer sessions as it gets easier. I suggest to most people to start with twice a week training at first, moving to once a week, then to maintenance. It is very similar to going to the gym – you wouldn’t go once expecting big changes. You need to go multiple times to achieve and maintain your results.
What makes Neurofeedback different than other mental health/cognitive therapies?
This is a non-invasive brain training that does not rely on medication. It has no side effects, aside from tiredness from playing the games. It is ideal for people who are looking for an alternative or a complement to the current medical system. It does not interact with medication and it is becoming a more common treatment to for psychologists/psychiatrists; it is growing in popularity. I am not a registered psychologist, so I charge accordingly (less than 50% of a psychologists rate).
What else do you offer?.
I also do heart-rate variability; bringing your heart rate and your breath rate into rhythm. It is diaphragmatic breathing method using a map on the screen to pace your breath with your heart rate. The goal is to steady the rhythm of both – it is regulating for the nervous system and is one of the easier ways to balance your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Who can benefit from Neurofeedback?
Really, anybody. Everyone can benefit by regulating and optimizing their brain activity. I work with ADHD, anxiety, depression, trauma/PTSD, sleep issues, memory issues, the list goes on and on. It is even useful for ‘peak performance training’ such as for golfers looking to calm their minds before making a shot. I have the most experience with trauma and children with attention issues or ADHD whose parents do not want to medicate them, or are looking to an alternative because of side-effects and the dependency of medication.
Do you have any Neurofeedback success stories?
Visit our Testimonials page to see the results!
Here is some additional reading to learn more..
- The Italian soccer team that won the world cup using Neurofeedback/Biofeedback techniques
- Training the brain for sobriety
- Multiple Neurofeedback success stories…
Thank you Stephanie for helping us better understand Neurofeedback!