Basic Neurofeedback Concepts
What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is biofeedback for the brain. Training with neurofeedback improves cognitive function, attention, mood, anxiety, sleep, and behavior. It helps stabilize the mind and increases ones level of functioning.
How does neurofeedback work?
Noninvasive sensors are placed on the head that act like stethoscopes. They read the brainwaves which are then displayed on a computer screen allowing both the practitioner and the patient to see them. This information or feedback is then used to train the brain via a computer game that rewards a patient when they are improving.
How is neurofeedback being used clinically?
Neurofeedback is used to afford clients the opportunity to learn to manage their brain’s activity. Improper brain activity causes common illnesses such as ADD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, traumatic brain injury, sleep, and other problems. Brain training is for people who choose not to be reliant on medications and want to take control of their own health. Some people who do not experience severe symptoms train to optimize their brain’s performance or what we call peak performance training.
How many sessions are needed?
That’s like asking, “How many times do I need to work out at the gym before I’ll be in shape?” The answer depends upon how out of shape you are. Similarly, how many sessions depend upon how many and what symptoms you suffer from. A thorough initial assessment will give us a better clinical picture from which we will develop an initial treatment plan. Additionally, we have various other tools that make sense for some clients. Some of our tools can increase the impact of neurofeedback and at times shorten the duration needed to achieve the clients’s goals. The good news is, unlike medications where you often wait for many weeks to see if it’s the right one or combination, you’ll typically know within a few sessions of training with neurofeedback if it makes sense for you. Contact us for a consultation.
How long are the sessions?
Normally, appointment time ranges from 30 to 40 minutes with neurofeedback taking approximately 20 minutes. When it is clinically indicated, we utilized various other technologies and tools that can enhance and assist our clients with achieving self-regulation. At the Center for Brain Training we customize each session to meet our client’s needs to ensure the best possible outcome.
How often do you need to come for training?
We like to begin with twice a week when possible. Three to four times a week can be helpful for those in crisis or with severe dysregulation or as an option for clients who choose to train faster. Typically, sessions decrease to once a week, then every other week etc.. as you see improvement. We customize the client’s training schedule by reviewing goals in light of the symptoms and degree of severity and the client’s availability.
When do you stop the training?
The goal is to decrease training as the symptoms lessen. Remember however, it is important to reinforce newly learned patterns via practice prior to stopping treatment. Stopping too soon can lead to relapse. Optimally, stopping treatment normally is a joint decision thoroughly discussed between the center and our patients. We recommend that clients whose symptoms have abated gradually slow down reducing their training schedule to once every two weeks, then once a month, then once every two months. During this phase of treatment we assess to see how well the new learning is holding. When the problems are gone; learning has occurred. Do some people need to come on an ongoing basis? Normally not, yet there are some small number of clients who may need a maintenance of perhaps once a month or less. We, unlike other industries, do not want repeat customers – our goal is to not have you come back – we want to help you to stop training as quickly as we determine that true learning has occurred.
How long does the effect of training last?
Dr. Joel Lubar, a pioneer in the field from the University of Tennessee, has reported his clients were enjoying the benefits of brain training up to 20 years later. Although this was Dr. Lubar’s longest follow-up study, there is no indication that his clients would not continue to benefit from their previous 20 year training or that symptoms would reappear. It is prudent for us to note that many foreseeable and unforeseeable factors are involved in determining how well training holds. At the center we educate our clients on how to optimize their recovery.
Can clients brain train if they are on medication?
Clinicians report that over 50% of their neurofeedback clients begin training while on one or more medications. At a certain point in training, depending on each individual client, it is common to reduce medication(s) under appropriate supervision.
When doesn’t neurofeedback work?
Just as some MD’s and psychologists are more proficient than others and vary in outcome and effectiveness the same is true with neurofeedback practitioners. Normally, outcome is impacted by training, experience, knowledge, and degree of commitment of the practitioner. The same is true of neurofeedback practitioners. This is why we carefully screen and train our staff.
How does training transfer to everyday situations?
With neurofeedback, the learning clients achieve begins to permeate into all areas of life; career and/or schooling, and social life. Additionally, family, peer, and intimate relationships are positively impacted. So not only can one learn to become more calm, relaxed, and focused but the experience generalizes allowing one hold on to achievement allowing patients to remain more focused, less anxious, sleep better, be in a better mood, enjoy increased motivation etc.
Do insurance companies reimburse for neurofeedback? It depends upon your carrier and the specific details of your plan. Neurofeedback is biofeedback. Some insurance companies will pay, others may not. However, when you look at the cost of doctor’s visit, medications, decreased productivity, and, for some, lost relationships, the benefits commonly outweigh the costs. Here are more details for professionals and consumers . . .
About the field
Neurofeedback is often called neurofeedback, EEG biofeedback, neurotherapy. No one in the field has agreed upon one name. All of these terms are commonly used interchangeably.
Why haven’t I heard about neurofeedback? Is it experimental?
Absolutely not! Neurofeedback devices are required to carry an FDA label, and can only be used by, or under strict supervision of, licensed health providers. Because neurofeedback is not backed by large drug companies and is not a billion dollar industry it is not advertised. Most everyone knows about medications because the drug industry spends millions of dollars to insure that you do. Additionally, neurofeedback is not dependant upon repeat clientele like other industries. Remember we are solution focused. After learning has occurred, our goal is for you not to need us. Additionally, we have no lobbyist lining the pockets of politicians and pushing congress to pass bills that keep the cost of training high and other alternative therapies out of competition. We welcome other alternatives and typically will include well researched successful alternative to optimized training.
Who are neurofeedback practitioners?
Typically, neurofeedback practitioners are a group of caring well-trained, psychiatrist, psychologist, neuropsychologist/psychiatrist, licensed psychotherapists, and other psychiatrist professionals dedicated to their patient’s recovery and well-being. Learning neurofeedback is a costly and intensive undertaking which is normally pursued by dedicated professionals who are frustrated by the standard options that they have to offer their patients.
Are there FDA guidelines for neurofeedback instrumentation?
Yes. This is an evolving question, but there are several companies that clearly are registered with the FDA under FDA guidelines. There are others who have chosen not to register and some controversy exists about that.