Neurofeedback, also called “EEG biofeedback,” is an applied intervention by specific equipment that is used to heighten and improve brainwave responses. EEG stands for electroencephalogram, is based on the brain’s electrical activity. Neurofeedback treats neurological conditions and can also be beneficial for pain management, stress, mental health issues, traumatic brain injury, ADD, and sleep disorders.
Neurofeedback reteaches the brain to function optimally in a reward-based system and creates new neuropathways in a subconscious method of training.
Neurofeedback is an offshoot of biofeedback, which became popularized in the 1970’s. As biofeedback is the generalized term and category for this applied intervention and sub-category, neurofeedback equipment varies from biofeedback in that it focuses solely on the brain functionality.
Biofeedback monitors an overall body (bio) processing to assist with relaxation, mood, and general feelings of wellness. The equipment measured blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and includes brain waves as part of the process. Biofeedback can be specific as far as type, including thermal, heart rate, muscular, system, and neuro (EEG) which is neurofeedback which is used in treatment centers.
All types of biofeedback have similar characteristics and utilize a computer device and electronic sensors that attach to the person’s body and relay information back to the device for monitoring purposes.
With EEG Biofeedback, the monitoring devices work on specific brain wave activity and can show that in specific areas if brain waves are working in a regulated or dysregulated state. A dysregulated brain state can cause inharmonious thoughts which lead to negativity and pain. There is a misalignment which occurs, and neurofeedback helps return the thoughts back into alignment by creating new neuro-causeways or aligning existing ones.
Due to the advancements in neurofeedback, it is currently possible to identify and pinpoint specific areas of brain malfunctioning. Comparative analysis with neurofeedback clients is also helping define significant issues regarding age, gender, and life experience, including the use of substances.
Being a client involved with neurofeedback treatment, one can expect to be provided with information about how the brain is functioning. This is almost always an opening experience that can answer some needed questions on “why I do the things I do.” It sheds light on reactions, impulses, and craving for the addict. It also provides hope where it may be lost, allowing the client to properly address the functionality of their brain, to achieve success in treatment.
As with any service, it is imperative to have a qualified provider to work with you during a neurofeedback session. The type of equipment, training, and care that is understood by the clinician is in direct relation to how best utilize the neurofeedback sessions.
Part of the challenges with neurofeedback is that clients give up before a real change, and need to stay consistent for a period before seeing results.
Since a client cannot “feel” anything happening to them during neurofeedback, it is often disputed to it not being effective, which cannot be farther from the truth.
Neurofeedback is a proven brain re-training method that facilitates stress reduction while boosting the brain’s ability to learn and integrate new information. It does this by “educating” the brain to be more adaptive and flexible, benefiting more than alcohol or eating disorder treatment while also addressing all of the stressful areas of our lives.
What Does a Typical Neurofeedback Session Look Like?
Before a client begins their neurofeedback session, they will be asked a series of questions which will allow the clinician to assess the client and create a specific neurofeedback plan. After the initial questioning is completed, the client is hooked up to sensor pads near your ears and scalp which relay electrical waves. There is no pain involved, no physical feeling or sensation as electricity is not entering the brain area. This is not a TENS unit (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) where the client feels electrical impulses on their skin. The client then watches fractal images on the computer’s screen, as the computer “scores” the process every two minutes. Depending on the equipment and which neurofeedback is used, there will be variables on what the computer screen shows the client.
For some neurofeedback units such as the evidence-based software system BrainPaint, where during the fractal imagery, a mixture of sounds are heard over headphones which play an important role in the brain’s rewiring.
All forms of biofeedback are used to improve the health of clients and to be a sustaining for their lives. It relieves stress, anxiety, chronic pain, helps regulate mood disorders, and is important for substance abusers in recovery.
The Origin and Development of Neurofeedback
The idea of biofeedback started centuries ago when yoga, self-regulation, and meditation practices developed but obviously could not utilize the tools that we have in modern society.
The research of the current intervention prior to use of machine assistance began with research conducted by Johann Schultz and Edmund Jacobsen in the 1930’s who each developed progressive relaxation techniques and autogenetic training. Autogenic training is roughly when a client in a semi-hypnotic state can receive relaxation through physiological changes through responses. Their work incorporated imagery and visualization, is a take-off of earlier practitioners who studied the work of Franz Mesmer, who used hypnosis to create responses by suggestions. Hence, the origin of the word “mesmerize.”
These type of anti-stress techniques were used up until the 1960’s when the introduction of computer technology into health practices was emerging. John Basmanjian, Neal Miller, Barry Sterman and Joe Kamiya, all worked on the contribution to creating the present day biofeedback technique based on the fundamental studies of how the brain can affect the body through subconscious rewiring.
Basmanjian focused on the study of the involuntary muscle movements of the body. His research and applied designs and methods proved that the client could learn control over each motor unit.
Beginning with animal testing, Miller conducted behavior modification research and found that the test subjects were able to control basic physiological functioning like blood pressure and heart rate. Sternman conducted experiments with cats to see if they could increase their sensory motor rhythms through a system via machine which allowed a reward given to each task completed. He noticed that the cast quickly could adjust their own brainwaves to get the rewarded treat.
In addition, Kamiya concentrated on a person’s perception and abilities to produce brain wave states consciously and with control through EEG feedback. Dr. Kamiya had been studying consciousness and its effects on individual health. He found that by using a system that incorporated rewards, people began to alter and change their own brain activity.
Several years after the initial brain studies on cats, Dr. Sterman was hired by NASA to measure how cats were to the exposure of lunar land fuel for the advancement of the space program. Most of the animals had adverse reactions leading to death, while some showed immunity to the toxins. The cats who survived were the same ones used in the initial experiments Sterman conducted for brainwave research. Because of these findings, Sterman developed a human control study of epileptic patients and was able to train their brains through the reward system and reduce their seizure levels from 20-100 percent. In addition, he did follow up studies and found that the effects of the reward based system were long lasting for the patients in the study.
NASA realized that this method would help the astronauts control their brainwaves. As a result of the findings, neurofeedback technique was consistently used in the astronaut training program and still is today.
As biofeedback became popular in society, many spiritual leaders, particularly those of Eastern origin and practices began to utilize the system. This created a stigma that it was based in a non-evidence, non-scientifically proved practice and developed a controversial reputation. As many early medical practices have developed, neurofeedback was regarded as a sham, and its practitioners scam artists. Scientists did not want to be attached to the reputation, and research was no longer funded.
However, it somehow survived into the 1980’s when work was being done to assist people who were diagnosed to the newly termed Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It seemed to help and again gained momentum.
One of the primary reasons for its present-day comeback is that the medical view and research has changed drastically about how the brain works. Primarily this is because we use to think for many years that the brain could not change once it has been developed, but now we understand that neuroplasticity or the ability to create new neurons throughout a person’s life is accepted.
Neuroscientists now know that there is an interrelation between the body’s complex systems and mental health. For overall health, the brain must be at optimal functioning, and that the brain and body work together to establish harmony. Literally meaning that negative and destructive thoughts can create illness.
Moving from experimental to scientific, EEG Biofeedback has been used worldwide, but it still has a stigma of past negativity by proxy. With technological advancements, neurofeedback is quickly changing its reputation and is integrated into mental health clinics, holistic practices, scientific studies, and medical institutions.
Many athletic teams will use neurofeedback to increase performance with their team members. Olympic hopefuls have incorporated neurofeedback as a consistent practice. Team results who use neurofeedback have proven results. Businesses have incorporated neurofeedback for its employees to achieve peak performance in the workplace, especially with high-powered, high-stress jobs. US Veterans who suffer from PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury have used neurofeedback to lessen the effects with proved results. Substance user who has incorporated neurofeedback as a regular part of their recovery show a higher percentage of sobriety over time and less percentage of relapse.
How Can Neurofeedback Help Me?
Addicts in recovery are usually affected by a myriad of issues that extend beyond getting off of substances. They have mental, emotional and physical issues that may impede or challenge their recovery. Since neuroscience now knows that everything within a person systems work in conjunction with each other, neurofeedback can provide relief in a variety of ways. For instance, there is stress and anxiety in the adjustment process. Adjustment to a new environment, new people, and new ways of thinking even if they are positive ones can create stressors. Neurofeedback will reduce stress and anxiety.
Acute Stress Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. People who admit to treatment can be beyond the “normal” range of external stressors and be diagnosed with one of these disorders. Acute Stress and PTSD differ in the length of time after a person has undergone a highly destructive traumatic event such as a sexual violation, death of a friend, environmental disaster, or war. Neurofeedback technique will allow the person diagnosed with these disorders to retrain the attachment the brain has to images and memory, and be able to compartmentalize them so that they no longer mentally and physically hold the same trauma in the body. For example, people suffering from PTSD often have a startle response to a loud noise or a surprise which is heightened due to the nature of PTSD, and the person relives an event which is not currently happening. Think of a soldier dropping under a table at a restaurant when plates are accidentally broken, creating a loud noise that automatically reminds them of an explosion. Due to the excessive trauma during combat. The brain wires itself to learn that loud noise equates to survival, thus subsequently it needs to be rewired to understand that plates being broken is not a life-threatening situation.
Each treatment center has its own beliefs on neurofeedback and types of rand that they use. Often treatment centers will hire outside neurofeedback practitioners, while some recovery facilities will have in-house clinicians dually trained in therapy practice and neurofeedback.
To be best received, neurofeedback session should be 30-60 minutes in length and used 3-5 times a week consistently for several weeks. Though this is not always possible in a residential situation, being able to participate in any neurofeedback session will be helpful. The best thing about neurofeedback is- that once it’s done, it’s in there. Meaning, a brain won’t revert to its’ original state pre-session, but the positive changes will sustain.
To learn more about our world-class program and luxury approach, call 1-877-437-6408 today.