Can Neurofeedback Help My Client?

In short, probably yes. Neurofeedback is designed to help individuals of all ages tackle cognitive, emotional, and physical obstacles such as depression, anxiety, stress/burnout, eating disorders, addictions, bipolar disorder, PTSD, sleep disorders, migraines, concussions, strokes, chronic pain, autism, brain injuries and brain aging issues. Because neurofeedback enhances overall brain functioning, athletes and successful CEOs also utilize it for athletic or cognitive enhancement. And this is all backed up by science. Neurofeedback is approved by the FDA as effective for stress reduction, and meets the American Psychological Association’s top clinical efficacy level (Level 5 – Efficacious & Specific) for addressing mental health concerns. Additionally, since 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics has considered neurofeedback a Level 1 Best Support intervention for ADD/ADHD in children and adolescents. In other words, they advise providers to recommend neurofeedback as a primary option for ADD and ADHD. Due to the plethora of research supporting neurofeedback, it is now deemed to be equally effective in the treatment of ADD/ADHD as traditional medication. This proves to be particularly hopeful for individuals who may not be seeing results from standard medications, don’t like the side-effects, or are worried about long-term use.

Most people have heard of biofeedback which is a type of therapy that utilizes sensors to gain information about one’s body such as heart rate, skin temperature, respiration, blood pressure, muscle tension, perspiration, and brain waves. Once you notice how your body is physiologically reacting to a stimulus, you can learn to apply effective techniques so your body doesn’t respond with a stress response. The origin of neurofeedback can be traced back to the late 1960s when its use was primarily to treat epileptic seizures. Neurofeedback is biofeedback applied directly to the brain. It works by measuring the brain’s electrical activity and displaying that in real time, as you watch a video game or movie or listen to music. When the program notices your brain is getting “off-track” it nudges it by changing the stimulus (inserts a very slight noise) so your brain corrects itself and gets back on track. Over the course of multiple sessions, the brain learns how to self-regulate and begins to adopt healthier and more synchronized patterns of electrical activity.

Neurofeedback is based on the fact that our brain produces different types of waves depending on our state of awareness. Delta waves are the slowest brain waves and occur during periods of deep sleep. Theta waves, while slow like delta waves, are produced during the relaxed dream-like state between waking and sleeping. Alpha waves occur when an individual is aware yet fully relaxed. Lastly, beta waves occur during times of intense concentration and focused mental activity. Everyone cycles through these various stages over the course of the day; however, imbalances in brain wave activity can lead to decreased or undesirable functioning. For instance, an abnormal increase in beta wave activity is associated with feelings of anxiety or tension. The goal of neurofeedback is to normalize dysregulated patterns of brain wave activity through the use of techniques that emphasize non-conscious self-regulation, relaxation, and focus.