For most of his life Tyler* was plagued by physical and mental challenges including fatigue, attention deficit, disorganization, poor memory, rumination, depression, and anxiety.
At age 12 he was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Adderall. He took it for five years until finally saying, no more. Besides not helping him with his issues, he got tired of the side effects, which included poor sleep and intense overthinking.
Over the years the 26-year-old went through a lot of therapy to try to neutralize the devastating effects of a childhood of emotional abuse and neglect. He resisted pressure from a therapist when he was 23 to go back on medication and began looking for a non-medication solution. His research brought him to the Center for Brain Training where he hoped that neurofeedback would be able to help him.
It did. Quite remarkably, even after just a few sessions. However, due to his schedule and his home’s distance from the Center for Brain Training office, he decided to get a home use system so he could do consistent training whenever he wanted to.
The convenience of being able to do neurofeedback at home made it possible to do neurofeedback far more often than he would have otherwise done and allowed him to improve at a faster pace.
Tyler’s mental state for most of his life made getting through each day difficult. As a child he had suffered severe emotional abuse at the hands of an angry stepfather who resented him and a mother who neglected him. As a result, Tyler developed a constellation of symptoms which made his life difficult: a short fuse; rumination for hours on everyday problems and situations; forgetfulness; disorganization; poor memory; and lack of focus, to name a few.
It had been a long time since his childhood diagnosis of ADHD, so when Tyler was 23, he went to a psychologist for an updated evaluation. He was told he had ADHD with a severe processing deficit.
His therapist recommended more therapy and medication. When he resisted the medication idea, she began pressuring him to take it, but Tyler was adamant: NO MORE MEDICATION! He stopped his therapy with her and went on a quest for a non-drug alternative.
Tyler had heard about neurofeedback in a college psychology class and decided to investigate it. He read voraciously about neurofeedback and watched YouTube videos about it. What he learned intrigued him.
“Those videos explained that neurofeedback could target specific parts of the brain and change them to work better,” Tyler said. “I was willing to try something different, and the idea of neurofeedback gave me hope. I looked at it as an investment in myself.”
He found the Center for Brain Training on the Psychology Today referral network. He met with the center’s director, Mike Cohen, and began training right away—12 sessions in the first month.
“After the second session I was already feeling calmer and more clear-headed,” Tyler recalled.
After a couple more sessions he reported notable improvements in energy, motivation, mood, rumination, calmness, overthinking, and focus.
But it was something that happened after the fifth session that really got his attention.
“I have a storage unit,” he said. “Every time I had visited it in the past, I had to look up the gate code to get in. After my fifth session, however, I went there and remembered the code.”
Not long afterwards, the avid list-maker realized that he was remembering things on his to-do list without even looking at it.
“I was really surprised at how quickly my brain responded to the training when so many other things I had tried didn’t work,” he said.
Tyler wanted to keep up his training pace but going to the office so regularly was impractical, due to his schedule and the travel time. He acquired a home training neurofeedback unit so that he could train daily at his convenience. “I figured it would pay for itself before long,” he said.
He received remote assistance from Pricila Vizcaíno, who supervises Center for Brain Training’s home use clients. With Pricila’s guidance he learned how to set up the equipment and where to place the sensors on his head. She helped formulate the protocols most likely to address his issues and supported him in making adjustments along the way when necessary. He now does most of his sessions on his own with only occasional check-ins with Pricila.
During the first month after acquiring his own neurofeedback equipment Tyler trained daily, then reduced his training to three times a week as he continued to improve.
“Neurofeedback training has enabled me to work through my emotions more easily,” said Tyler. “It’s also helped me not be so reactive under stress.” This benefit was particularly useful to Tyler because he works with children with developmental disabilities who can be very challenging at times.
“I no longer get caught up in a thought loop that goes out of control and end up thinking about something for an hour. That’s gotten better, maybe lasting 15 or 30 minutes at the most.”
Tyler now has a new therapist he sees routinely and plans to continue regular neurofeedback training indefinitely.
“Now that I can do it as often as I want or need, I’m excited to see where it takes me,” he said. “I know it’s not a cure, but it’s a tool that will help me in my journey of healing.”
*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality.