“How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?”
Clients, and other therapists ask me question all the time.
Neurofeedback training is a therapy modality that has been around for decades. Developed by researchers in the 1960s, scientists were looking for method to help train astronauts to avoid seizures which can be caused by exposure to rocket fuel. Later in the 1970s, neurofeedback was used to reasearch and treat ADHD.
But despite it’s longevity as a treatment method, some people are only coming across it now. So let’s begin:
What Is Neurofeedback Therapy?
Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback. Biofeedback is a form of psychological treatment in which we use technology to help you learn to change your physiology. Normally, many of our physiological functions operate outside the control of our conscious mind. But biofeedback therapy can help you change that. Indeed, you can learn to have increased control over the functions of your body.
Some common applications for biofeedback include:
- Pain management
- Anxiety treatment
- Stress reduction
- G.I. problems
- Headaches and migraines
- High blood pressure
Biofeedback therapy methods include using devices that help you monitor and change your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, muscle contraction and skin temperature. In the case of neurofeedback, we use an EEG (Electroencephalograph) to monitor and help you train the electrical signals in your brain (EEG). Because our brain waves affect our states of mind and our physical functioning, it can be a powerful treatment method.
Who Wants Neurofeedback Therapy?
Neurofeedback therapy tends to appeal to a few different types of clients including:
- People who want a natural, drug free treatment
- Adults and children who are looking for something other than “talk therapy”
- Clients who want to make changes at the brain level and promote healthier brain functioning
Why Do They Want Neurofeedback Therapy? Mainly because clients want a treatment that:
- Is safe and comfortable
- Can help reduce or eliminate drugs and medications.
- Provides additional symptom relief
- Helps them develop a greater sense of self efficacy.
So, How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?
Let’s get just a bit technical for a minute.
Neurofeedback works because it activates our brain’s potential for neuroplasticity. When it comes to our brains, the term “neuroplasticity is used frequently. Our brains have the ability to grow and change. Throughout our lives, we can develop new neural pathways. Neurofeedback works by providing feedback to the brain. It does this in a fraction of a second. In effect, conditioning it to do more of what we want your brain to do, and less of what we don’t.
Certain EEG brainwave patterns are associated with psychological disorders. And happily, brainwaves can be trained.
To give an example, imagine that you are a “worry wort”. Your brain has a well honed neurological habit. It’s good at worrying, and not so good at switching focus, relaxing and letting to of troubling thoughts. During neurofeedback training, the regions of your brain that produce worry, receive rewards every time they quiet down. This conditions them to reduce worry and quiet your mind.
Rewarding the brain creates powerful change. This is what shapes our habits, including habits in the deepest regions of our brain and central nervous system. Rewarding the brain is how we condition it.
Neurofeedback Works Through Conditioning:
The power of conditioning is well known. It’s conditioning that we use when we train animals. Nasa used conditioning with neurofeedback to train astronauts to be seizure resistant. Big tech uses it to get us to check our messages when the bell rings. Madison Avenue uses it to make us feel happy when we think of certain products. News organizations use conditioning to get us to click on their news stories. Similarly, even parents use condtioning when they give a child an allowance for doing chores.
So, as a patient, how does neurofeedback work? It’s simple and comfortable. As you are watching a simple video game, or perhaps watching a movie, every time your EEG brain waves hit certain perimeters, a bell sounds, or a light appears, or you get a point in the game. It’s simple, comfortable and effective.
In summary, how neurofeedback works is based on decades of knowledge about the brain. In neurofeedback therapy, we rely on our knowledge of how our brains learns at the deepest level. We use that knowledge to help you have a brain that functions to support you.
Please feel welcome to have a look around my site to learn more about neurofeedback therapy