Why does it work?
Neurofeedback utilizes the same learning process that occurs whenever we acquire any new skill. The brain learns by forming connections between nerve cells, thereby making certain nerve pathways more readily and easily available for use. The more frequently these pathways are employed, the more efficient the brain becomes at performing the associated task. For example, when you’re first learning to ride a bike, you have to really concentrate on every part of the process. With enough practice, however, riding becomes easier. Eventually, you’re able to think about something else entirely while your brain effortlessly handles the details of riding the bike. Likewise, by repeatedly practicing desired brainwave patterns, your brain gets better at automatically regulating itself.
What is Neurofeedback?
Our brains are constantly being shaped by experience. With every repetition of a thought or emotion, we reinforce a neuro pathway – and with each new thought, we begin to create a new way of being. These small changes, frequently enough repeated, lead to changes in how our brains work.
Neuroplasticity is the muscle building part of the brain; the things we do often we become stronger and better at, what we don’t use fades away. That is the physical basis of why making a thought or action over and over again increases its power. Over time, it becomes automatic; a part of us. We literally become what we think and do. Neuroplasticity is at work throughout life. Connections within the brain are constantly becoming stronger or weaker, depending on what is being used. Younger people change easily; their brains are very plastic. As we age change doesn’t come as easily; the brain loses some of its plasticity and we become more fixed in how we think, learn, and perceive, BUT we still have the capacity for change!
What Happens During the Training Session?
Neurofeedback is a painless, non-invasive procedure. During each training session, electrodes are placed on your ears and on your scalp at various locations. The sensors are connected to electronics and computer software which detect, amplify, and record specific brain activity. The brain waves are displayed on the computer screen. The computer software processes the signal and provides the appropriate visual and audio feedback.
Your brain and body want to be in a state of “homeostasis”, or a state of health or balance. During neurofeedback training, the brain gradually responds to the audio and visual feedback. This is how learning to produce a healthier brain wave occurs. The brain learns a new brain pattern, which is closer to what is normally observed in people without such conditions.
What is the process like?
In the initial evaluation, we gather information about your symptoms, your health, and your family history. There is EEG testing which gives us a look at the electrical activity of your brain and tells us which areas of your brain could benefit from neurofeedback training, and which type of neurofeedback. You will see the EEG of various areas of your brain on a computer screen and learn how they compare to normal brain waves. We will review the results with you and schedule training sessions with the appropriate type of neurofeedback desired.
How long is a session?
A training session lasts 60 minutes.
What do I do during the training session?
The client’s number one priority is to relax while the training takes place. While testing occurs, the conscious part of the brain is not used, but instead the part of the client’s brain which controls all functions of the body is utilized. Allowing the brain to observe itself, and encouraging it in the process is all that one could ask for.
Are these changes permanent?
According to research over the past 40 years, changes created by neurofeedback remain, unless the brain is further harmed by other trauma, disease, or injury. Once the brain’s normal rhythmic patterns have been restored, neurofeedback training is no longer necessary. Life changing events may retrigger symptoms, but fewer neurofeedback sessions are needed to restore brain efficiency. This is because a healthy or normal state is the most stable state for the mind and body.
How many sessions will it take?
Most clients do 20 to 40 sessions, however, there is no standard answer to this. Clients are all different and learn at varying rates of speed. In addition, different conditions require different amounts of time to change. Neurofeedback is a learning process and results are seen gradually over time.
When will I see some change?
For some clients, immediately, though there are many variables that exist in each clients’ Neurofeedback experience. Generally speaking, change is seen within the first 10-12 sessions. However, with individual variations, the more complex conditions require more sessions before changes are noticed.
How are goals set?
Goals are typically set in the assessment session. Both the amplitude and the frequencies of various brain waves are measured, giving insight as to which should be higher in amplitude or frequency, and which should be inhibited to create a healthier pattern in the brain.
Are there any contraindications for neurofeedback?
There are no known contraindications at this time.
What is Neurofeedback Used for?
This is a list of common conditions treated with neurofeedback:
Anxiety & PTSD
Depression & Bipolar
Pain & Headache
Are there any adverse effects?
More times than not, there are no adverse effects of Neurofeedback. Nevertheless, clients who have gone through Neurofeedback training have occasionally stated feeling tired, too “cloudy” or too “revved-up” temporarily after sessions. If this type of symptomology takes place, training sessions might have been too little or too much. In the following sessions, this is taken into account and the protocol is adjusted based on the feedback from the client. Input and responses from clients help guide the course of training.
What should I do to prepare?
When coming for the first time, it can be helpful to bring any relevant medical/psychological reports as well as insurance information. Generally speaking, clients can get the most out of their time in session by coming well rested, and with recently cleaned hair (helps in getting a better signal!) If clients are sick, it is best to stay at home, as brainwaves can be affected by physical illnesses.
How can I do well?
One cannot force their brainwaves to change, and oddly enough, trying too hard to make that happen can lead one to worry about their performance, creating an adverse reaction. Brainwaves are constantly in flux, naturally changing all the time. The program catches the brain whenever it creates the desired pattern and rewards it with visual and auditory feedback. This encourages the brain to enhance the amount of time producing the desired pattern. By relaxing, and paying attention to the audio/visual feedback, clients can unlock the brain’s natural tendency to succeed.
What do sessions cost?
Sessions can vary in cost depending on the clinician.
Theresa Hubbard - $150
Brianna Lopez and Michele Roberts - Ability to Pay Scales $60-130
KCNPI in Liberty, Missouri provides neurofeedback in Liberty, Missouri and serves the Kansas City area.