Written By: Michele L. Brennan, Psy.D.
Neurofeedback is becoming main stream these days and I have to say that’s a good thing. As a holistic noninvasive approach to management of the brain, it has so much to give the world. In a nutshell, neurofeedback helps the brain practice the desirable wave patterns until they become second nature. I once described this process to a patient by saying, “its like running down a deer trail in the woods. At first it’s hard to find, but over time you wear in the trail and it becomes a wider more established path. Neurofeedback helps neurons make desirable connections (also known as learning) which is like the initial deer trail. Its faint and hard to find. With practice practice practice it turns this from a deer trail into a solid pathway through the woods”.
So who is neurofeedback for?
Essentially anyone can benefit from it. It works great with individuals who have hyper-arousal disorders. These are people who have too much going on in their heads (i.e., someone with anxiety). Neurofeedback teaches the brain to relax, and trains the waves to decrease becoming closer to normal. It works for individuals who have hypo-arousal problems (i.e., autism, stroke patients). These people may have been born this way, or have symptoms as a result of a trauma to the brain. This processes has also been found to benefit individuals with attention deficits and ADHD. Neurofeedback also benefits individuals who do not have any clinically significant problems like athletes and musicians. They can use it to enhance and better develop already acquired skills. Athletes can work on increasing motor speeds, and musicians can use it to enhance their performances.
What is it like?
Essentially the individual is hooked up to EEG leads which are connected to a computer. Depending on the protocol developed, the patient may lie in a comfortable chair or sit at a computer screen. When the desired brain wave pattern is created, the computer issues a reward in the form of a music snippet or through visual reinforcement. This rewards the brain and encourages it to continue making that pattern. Over time the brain is trained to increasingly reproduce certain brain waves. This process is repeated, and the waves are recreated for numerous sessions. This training has created new neural connections, the practice and repetition strengthens the neural connection increasing the learning.
Is it covered by insurance?
Yes, many insurance companies will cover this type of treatment.
How long does it take?
It takes a commitment, the actual time needed to achieve goals depends on the individual. Sessions are held 2-3 times a week, for about an hour. Treatment can go on for months, depending on the individual and the types of symptoms being alleviated.
Why choose neurofeedback?
There are many personal reasons, but it provides a long term holistic approach to correcting abnormal brain waves which may be causing numerous symptoms.
– Dr. Brennan