If you’re off track – what do you do? Can neurofeedback help?
Almost every day someone comes to me for help saying that they know something is wrong but can’t quite pinpoint the problem.
My typical response: It sounds like your brain can’t quite get on track.
Their typical response: That’s exactly what I’m talking about! Perhaps they (or their child) are experiencing anxiety, depression, an attention deficit, or a mind that races or loops. They get too easily frustrated or triggered.
Each of these symptoms is a brain issue. When brain issues are at play, life can be miserable or, at best, more complicated than necessary. Adults struggle with succeeding at work or in their personal life. Children struggle academically or with peers or are frequently in trouble at home and school.
Nowhere to Turn
Most of our clients have tried just about “everything” attempting to “take control” of their brain.
They believe they’ve exhausted all their options and are on the verge of accepting their “fate.”
They’ve gone through talk therapy and relaxation techniques. They’ve hired coaches or tutors. They’ve changed their diet, added vitamins and sought out alternative treatments such as acupuncture. Many have tried numerous prescription medications like Xanax, Concerta, Adderall, Prozac and Ambien – or self-medicated with illegal drugs or alcohol.
Some have experienced short-term success without really solving the problem. Just about all of them felt they had nowhere to turn until they stumbled across neurofeedback – intrigued about a technology that could help the brain change itself. They see neurofeedback as their last resort.
It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to tell them that neurofeedback is a tool that can help – an evidence-based treatment to gently guide their brains back on track. Sometimes they cry. Sometimes they hug me, but in all of them I see a glimmer of hope in their eyes.
An Explanation of Neurofeedback —No Heavy Lifting Required
I used to find explaining neurofeedback a bit difficult until one day I thought of the analogy of going to the gym. I see neurofeedback as a high-tech gym for your brain, without the sweating and smelly shoes.
What if you could go to the gym and work out the parts of your brain which need to be stronger in order to function better? That’s what neurofeedback does.
Neurofeedback training results in more resilience, flexibility and balance. With repeated “workouts” your brain learns to handle more, with less stress. You notice improvements in attention, staying calm, quieting your mind, and not getting easily triggered or overwhelmed.
Neurofeedback is not an overnight fix. If you were out of shape, you’d need more than two or three workouts in order to look like your fitness trainer.
It’s hard to predict how many neurofeedback sessions it will take, since everyone is different. However, we can provide an estimate based on your symptoms and history.
One way neurofeedback training differs from gym workouts is that once changes in the brain occur, they tend to stick around. Neurofeedback is a learning process like riding a bicycle. Once you know how to ride, you don’t tend to forget. Wouldn’t it be nice if the benefits of the gym were more permanent, too?
Customized Treatment — Just Like Your Trainer!
Each neurofeedback session is targeted to elicit changes in the brain that you specifically need…your temporal lobes for emotions and handling frustration, speech and expression; your frontal lobes for getting things done, for executive function, decision-making, attention and organization; your parietal lobes for efficiently handling information-processing and not getting overwhelmed.
I use more than 20 years of clinical experience to determine the right protocols for you, and if appropriate I will suggest we conduct a brain map for even more targeted training.
Brain mapping is a highly-sophisticated tool – one of the most vital diagnostic tools available for neurofeedback. An optional brain map allows us to identify where key issues are in the brain. These areas may be overactive, underactive, or not connecting to other areas. It helps us target your neurofeedback treatment.
Center for Brain has been using brain mapping technology since 2001. Over the years the technology has evolved, and we’ve stayed on top of it. Since 1998, I’ve been at most of the key conferences in the field, keeping our center on the cutting edge.
In addition to using brain mapping data, we adapt the technology to fit each client’s uniqueness, just as your trainer would at the gym.
We’ve evolved to using several kinds of brain maps and more than eight types of neurofeedback and biofeedback. These all help the brain and nervous system get back on track as quickly as possible.
The Neurofeedback Session
Here’s what occurs during a typical neurofeedback session:
Sensors are placed on your head to read your brain’s electrical activity. Nothing goes into your head (it just reads what’s there, like a blood pressure cuff). We then use our clinical experience and optional brain map data to analyze that information and program a training goal into our computer.
Next we run what looks like a simple video game (think Pac-Man). If you’re anxious, your brain needs to slow down. Whenever it does, if even momentarily, your Pac-Man eats a dot, and you hear a beep.
With the help of those “rewards,” and with repetition, the brain learns to more easily and frequently slow itself and operate at this different, calmer level. Once that occurs, many bothersome anxiety symptoms dissipate.
Neurofeedback is learning, so repetition over a series of sessions is important. It’s the same process that helps you get better at a sport. Each time you practice, you improve.
Since people often don’t know much about neurofeedback and its impressive capacity to help brain-based problems, I offer a free consultation. You will meet one-on-one with me. Together we will decide if I think I can help you – or if another approach is better – I’ll tell you. That’s a promise.