Neurofeedback Therapy, also called EEG Biofeedback, is brain training to increase self-regulation and resiliency. The brain functions using electrical waves of various sizes and speeds. We have found that certain very slow brain waves help the brain have a nice resting state.
When your brain is able to access this grounded resting state, you are able to handle whatever life throws at you with much more flexibility and ease. This is what we mean by resiliency.
Many people’s resting state has been compromised by trauma, depression, anxiety, exceptional stress, even challenges like migraine headaches and autoimmune diseases. This means their brains are less able to bounce back from the stressors of life.
Neurofeedback helps the brain learn how to function more efficiently so you can access your resiliency when you need to.
The amazing thing about this work is that over time, the new habits we introduce actually begin to reward the brain for changing its own activity from less helpful patterns, to more appropriate ones so your brain is more likely to stay with the new behaviors in the future.
This is brain training and it teaches your brain how to handle stress and difficult situations that are inevitable in life. It all happens in Neurofeedback Therapy.
What Is Neurofeedback Therapy?
Neurofeedback therapy is the process that does this work. It is a non-invasive process we do together that rewires your brain and helps your nervous system calm down.
This structured therapy is not talk therapy, but rather a therapeutic process that works with your brain’s waves to help your brain build new neural pathways.This “new” response to stress is what causes you to be more resilient in the face of life’s ups and downs.
Think About What Stress Is Like For You Today
When this kind of stress becomes chronic, it can take a toll on your health. Under normal stress, once the issue is resolved, your nervous system normally calms down on its own. But, with chronic stress and anxiety, your brain and nervous system do not return to a calm level. This is where Neurofeedback comes in. In your brain, the amygdala is what senses danger, and activates your fight or flight response. With chronic stress, the amygdala can begin to stay “on” even after the difficulties have subsided.
Every time you feel stress, because you’ve entered this chronic stress state, the brain can’t determine when the stress has passed. It doesn’t register that the small stressor you are feeling in the present moment is not the same as the serious stress or anxiety you felt in the past. This leads to feeling like you can’t reduce your stress or cope with your stress at all. Neurofeedback is one of the treatment options that really can help. It calms down your nervous system, which allows you to return to a state of feeling calm, relaxed and capable of managing what’s in front of you.
How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?
Self-regulation (your ability to manage your own reactions and feelings to what’s happening to you) is an automatic, unconscious process that is not under your conscious/direct control. Your will or personal power steps in after your brain reacts to what’s going on around you. So if your brain incorrectly perceives your stress as “high alert” when it’s really more of a mere annoyance or nuisance, your will power has to kick in under those conditions. All of which happens in an instant.
This cascade effect leaves you very little time to choose how you want to organize your thoughts or calm your mind. So when you’re under stress and in a deeply stressful state, your brain will flood your body with fight/flight chemicals whenever your stress response is evoked. This can be from something truly scary like an “almost car accident” to something much less stressful like someone’s “tone of voice” in a conversation.
Under chronic stress, your willpower has to respond to whatever is happening through the filter of the chemicals your brain puts out (even if the stress you’re experiencing is not really that bad). This makes it even harder for your brain to stay calm and collected under stress.
Neurofeedback promotes self-regulation by working with your brain waves directly. Over time, this reduces your brain’s reactivity and gives you more time to “think.” That process alone helps to improve your health and well-being, and empowers you to feel more in control of your life. Once this happens, your need for conscious will power to manage your daily life reduces.
As you start to feel happier, less depressed or anxious, and more empowered, decision-making starts to improve and you can make the changes that will lead to a better life. As Neurofeedback progresses, your new, optimal state may help you to better understand the roots of your issues. You can then resolve painful memories without feeling so much distress.
As your therapist, my job is to support you during these moments by creating a safe environment. Through listening, asking you questions and helping you with somatic healing, you can develop insight and integrate your experiences.
Neurofeedback helps you with this by keeping you grounded and regulated. Then, you develop a more integrated sense of self.
Who Should Use Neurofeedback Therapy?
People of all ages come to Neurofeedback Therapy. If you just don’t feel like yourself anymore or feel like you’re not your best self, you might want to consider Neurofeedback Therapy. It can help you feel more positive and motivated and even improve performance.
Here are just a few symptoms you might be having that we can work to improve:
Which Conditions Can Neurofeedback Therapy Help Treat?
Neurofeedback is incredibly helpful for athletes, performers, artists or anyone who wants to perform at their highest level at work. “Our intellectual abilities and emotional resources can be considerably enhanced with Neurofeedback training,” says Siegfried Othmer, Ph.D.
Stress that is persistent and long-lasting can be categorized as “chronic stress” and can occur at any time in your life. In childhood, chronic stress that occurs early in life, when your brain is developing, has a devastating effect on the central nervous system and brain. As an adult, chronic stress can rob you of your ability to manage day-to-day activities and lead to a tailspin of mental health challenges. Neurofeedback has a profound impact on how the brain processes stress and can be deeply impactful in repairing old ways of functioning so new, more effective strategies can be implemented.
If you have suffered multiple traumatic events, you may be accustomed to living in a perpetual state of arousal. Conversely, you might feel shut down, or unable to feel or react. Complex trauma can arise from more subtle forms of emotional abuse and neglect and can be equally destabilizing.
Stress and Anxiety
Life sometimes depends on being able to manage intense feelings and stress. The brain becomes stuck in unhealthy, rigid patterns. Neurofeedback is thought to change neuronal activation or connectivity patterns in the nervous system. In this way, neurofeedback training helps you acquire self-regulation skills and build resiliency. This leads to an improved ability to manage stress and anxiety.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD can impact your mind and body, but especially the brain. Trauma impacts your relationships, social life, work life and your emotions. If you are suffering with the serious long-term consequences of trauma, neurofeedback can help.
Narcissistic Spouse/Codependent Relationships
Relationships that experience emotional abuse (gaslighting, ghosting, love bombing and/or high levels of conflict with little repair) all impact your nervous system and your template of how the world works. Codependency is a struggle for many people who experienced inconsistency with caregiver relationships as a child. Neurofeedback helps reset the wiring in your brain so you have a stronger understanding of fairness, authenticity and what real love feels like because you start to love yourself through this process.
You might be plagued by self-destructive behaviors, social isolation, rage, and fear. Intense emotions that you can’t seem to control. Neurofeedback can help you find more peace.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)
Many people use neurofeedback to help attention and focus. Difficulties with concentration, organization and time management are some of the adverse effects of ADD that we can work on. Secondary effects of neurofeedback include calming down your nervous system making it easier to concentrate.
The most recent research points to addiction as a brain disorder. Problems with arousal level and self-regulation can be addressed.
Trauma from Childhood Wounds
Severe childhood abuse, neglect and abandonment, known as developmental trauma, is one of the most difficult mental health issues to treat. This kind of trauma occurs when you are dependent on caregivers that cannot love and nurture you consistently or in the way that you need in order to thrive. You may even have experienced a complete lack of attachment to your caregiver. There is lots of good research showing that neurofeedback helps with trauma. Studies have shown that neurofeedback has successful results among clients with PTSD who have not been responsive to prior treatment modalities.
Many people experience dissociation, where you can’t feel your body or experience emotions. Dissociation is a way your nervous system deals with stress that just does not go away.
Chronic Body Tension and Stress
You might be unable to relax and let go. In his book The Body Keeps The Score, Bessel Van der Kolk, a leading trauma researcher, talks about how trauma is stored in the body, as well as in thoughts and memories. Body memories of trauma can overpower your nervous system. This can render you unable to function at your best.
Depression and loneliness
Feeling hopeless, helpless and feeling little or no pleasure in activities that used to make you happy are all symptoms that we can treat. You may be able to reduce or eliminate medication, as well.
What To Expect In A Neurofeedback Session
All Neurofeedback sessions happen in my office. When we meet, I use a water soluble paste to apply electrodes to your scalp which feed brainwave activity into my computer. This is how I “listen” to your brain and see what activity is going on that corresponds to how you’re feeling.
While this is happening, you will see your brain waves in the form of a video of that you choose. This can be a beach scene, a nature hike, or a spaceship flying through space. You can even watch a movie or play a video game. As your brain is syncing, the picture will expand and get brighter.
Your brain needs to be engaged through as many of your senses as possible. Neurofeedback protocols engage the brain through auditory feedback such as music and we use many interesting visuals and even a vibrating stuffed animal that provides touch feedback to engage your brain.
Our work with Neurofeedback encourages your brain to produce resting state brain waves. These waves calm and relax your nervous system and return your brain to a more resilient and regulated state. I use your symptoms to help me understand how your nervous system is dysregulated and where to pay attention based on your reports of what’s going on in your life.
As we work through our sessions, you will start to feel calm and relaxed, but still alert. Some people say they feel lighter, more grounded and more themselves. Some feel like their brain isn’t constantly thinking of so many things at once, so they feel more focused and centered.
In the first three or four sessions, if a particular brainwave helps you feel relaxed, yet alert, I tell the computer to encourage that wave. That way, we find the best brainwave patterns for you. In this, everyone is different. Over time we activate more brain wave activity that moves you towards better self-regulation.
Once we understand your optimal brainwaves, your brain learns how to maintain this healthier state without using Neurofeedback. How many sessions you need depends on what we are treating and how long you’ve been dealing with the problem.
As you explore the right therapeutic techniques to help resolve your feelings/reduce your stress, you may be drawn Neurofeedback because it doesn’t require you to relive traumatic events or express painful emotions. You don’t have to tell me your full story or your painful experiences.
Instead, you simply sit in a comfortable chair and we work with brain function. Then overtime, once you feel more grounded and have less stress, talking through whatever remains of your story is easier.
Neurofeedback Therapy: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
With the help of an experienced clinician, Neurofeedback has been shown to work for a wide range of symptoms. It really makes a difference for many people. Since it improves brain function, increasing self-regulation and resiliency, many things will start to shift in a positive direction.
Within the first two to four sessions, we work together so you feel more at ease, grounded, calm, relaxed, yet alert and ready to face your day. You will begin to feel more positive, light hearted and self-confident. These effects will deepen and last longer as you do more sessions.
For most people, we focus on three different parts of the brain. Different parts of the brain help with different issues. The upper back, called the parietal lobe, helps with body relaxation. This is excellent for body sensations such as feeling tense, tight in your chest, neck and face, heaviness, rubbing your hands, upset stomach, and sweating,
The second region is the forehead region, called the frontal lobe, which helps with emotional calm, feeling less emotionally reactive and angry, shame and guilt. This also improves executive function, like attention, focus and procrastination.
The third region is the side of your head, right above the ear, called the temporal lobe. This helps you feel more balanced and even keeled, and is excellent for things like depression, improved mood, autoimmune disorders and migraines.
Typically it takes about four sessions to start to feel your symptoms begin to lift. After this initial period where we establish a protocol, we then continue that same protocol for ten to twenty additional sessions. The positive effects you feel will last longer and get stronger as you continue your sessions. You come once a week or even twice a week if you want to feel better sooner.
Once your optimal state is achieved, we slowly taper off to twice a month, then once a month, until you feel you don’t need the sessions anymore and the positive effects stay with you. The number of sessions varies with each person. Typically, you would complete 10 to 20 sessions and then we can discuss how you’re doing.
If we are working on something you’ve been feeling repeatedly since childhood, good effects can take longer to stick with you. Experiences that happened once or started in adulthood often take less time to resolve. Some people also come in for a tune up every so often. Every year or two, you might do ten sessions.
When you start treatment, expect that your mood will improve gradually, so be patient. That said, Neurofeedback is a wonderful therapy for helping you reduce the effects of stress.
After Neurofeedback Therapy, your brain waves are normalized so that you can manage your emotions. Your cognitive abilities are enhanced, as well.
Then, it’s easier to focus on learning, making friends, working and pursuing your goals.
Get Help Today
My therapy practice is located in California and I see clients in my Santa Monica and Torrance offices. If you’re looking for help, please reach out to me. I do not have a wait list and can schedule clients quickly. My practice is cash-based which means I do not accept insurance at this time.
You can reach me directly at 310-314-6933 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in a true emergency, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text NSPL at 988.