Exploring ways to address trauma in efforts to develop greater resources for my clients and also myself, I came across a modality called Neurofeedback. In the building where I work, I met a kind woman in the ladies room who was quietly washing some goop out of her hair. She explained that a time slot had opened up for her as a patient had cancelled and so since she was feeling a bit out of sorts, she gave herself a treatment mentioning that afterwards she felt more clear and focused. (And this goop was some conducting gel used in the treatment.) Of course I was so curious. I want that! I want clarity and focus since often my head feels foggy. She explained briefly the benefits of this treatment and that the most immediate effects were that it would prompt better sleep. Boy - I was even more intrigued. We set up an appointment and then it all began. My accelerated track from frozen to fluid.
I have found great changes within myself from this treatment modality and have also referred others for this with fascinating results. Read on and maybe this could be another resource for you too!
Thank you for this opportunity Natalie. As a result of my own experience with Neurofeedback, I am hoping to place into context what Neurofeedback is and how it actually works in efforts to better articulate this for others.
How long have you been incorporating Neurofeedback in your treatments and patient care?
3.5 years now.
And how would you describe Neurofeedback (in a broad sense)?
If I were to relate it to exercise, it is a means or a resource to exercise one’s brain. Regardless of the reason or therapeutic indication of their therapy, it is a resource one can use to assist or facilitate brain health through brain training.
What is the difference between neurofeedback and biofeedback?
Biofeedback uses your ability to control the PNS to communicate with CNS through physical cues i.e. breathing. It consciously assists the nervous system to experience present moment.
Whereas in neurofeedback - it allows for direct communication with CNS, which has no direct line of communication, prefrontal cortex organizes information and is recognized by our limbic system. We have greater information going down instead of coming up, we are primitive in the organization of our being or our brain.
And when the brain is habituated in a fight/flight response, psychotherapy can not as effectively address accurate beliefs of self, narrative is not so accurate, and the brain is thinking there is a problem when there isn’t. As in PTSD - anxiety/depression is prevalent and their belief system is formed this way, to look for problems in their present situation even without an accurate threat.
In the unconscious brain, it gives feedback that it can speak, a gate is open and the message can be delivered presenting a mirror to itself to correct what it wants to self correct. Your brain decides this, not the training as this is the basic intelligence of your CNS.
What would cause the brain to lose this capacity?
PTSD, mini traumas, don’t always feel safe, new approach of psycho therapy - appreciating this as challenging, people are seeking ways in finding safety. could be a result of feeling neglected, the absence of a protector and some people are genetically inefficient or present ADHD and are often in a hyper vigilant state.
In traumatic brain injury and/or concussion, in order for the brain to rehabilitate itself, it needs to see accurately what state it is in. For other reasons as depression, anxiety or could be genetic or a result of lifestyle and/or environment.
How long would a treatment program last? And are the effects long term?
Varies as some take longer based on their symptomology or how they present themselves and also how they are able to assimilate the change.
Some are ambivalent about anxiety and when they enter a state of regulation, they can demonstrate resistance. With anxiety, their motivation is often fear. Once they enter a state of regulation, no longer motivated by fear but by playfulness, interest, curiosity.
Maintaining regulation varies. Often when one completes a course of about 20 sessions, they will come in for ‘tune ups’ every 4-6 months.
For example, my daughter has asked for it. She’s now 10 and started at 6 years old. We ultimately want to be able to identify when we are going into disregulation. Whether one is feeling stressed, anxious, unsettled, we are disregulated and we need to ask - What are my resources? When regulated, we are in peak performance. Need to notice the difference.
Effects and benefits sound similar to mindfulness. How does this, if at all, compare to meditation?
Long term meditators, creates a good ground for meditative practice, the right environment for the brain’s point of view, can practice the technique most efficiently. People who are also good with their body practices and have sense of self awareness also respond well. All those who are imbalanced, and not with an organic reason, shift very easily.
Athletic performance - how does this help to improve?
Regulating nervous system, focus when it needs to focus. Mind manifestation - less thoughts, doubts, sabotage. IN THE ZONE. Synchronization. Also, helps or assists musicians with their compositions and artists gain focus.
Here is a weblog by Natalie with more information: TRAIN YOUR BRAIN
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive treatment that I have found to be quite relaxing. You listen to a recording of light ambient music selected to take you through the stages of brain training from preparatory phase all the way to integration. Your divergence is measured at the beginning of the session and compared to how it measures after. Although this measurement is not done every session nor is much emphasis placed on it as the results are more experiential and qualitative. Here is an image of one of my sessions. They say that the greatest changes occur within sessions 6-10 however I noticed them immediately.
There is so much more information these days on ways that we can address brain health and also in addressing past traumas. Often those suffering with PTSD and other conditions such as anxiety and depression, feel unable to control their reactions to their outside world. Luckily treatments such as this are now an accessible resource for many. Studies are now also showing that Neurofeedback can also help artists and athletes in enhancing creativity and performance.
See article: TRAINING MENTAL HEALTH PERFORMANCE
Stay curious and explore. The more resources we have available to us, the better off we all are in living a fuller life.