What is Neurofeedback Therapy?
Neurofeedback (NFB) therapy is a type of Biofeedback and a therapeutic technique that uses the brain’s natural process of learning to train it to produce the desired states of functioning. It is an all-natural approach that can lead to long term changes in your functioning. NFB allows clients to see their brain activity on a computer screen and allows them to develop control over it, observing changes in real time. With continued feedback and reinforcement in the form of fun and interactive video games or audio/visual applications, the brain will intuitively learn to regulate itself and most people begin to produce healthier brain wave patterns. NFB can be used to help with symptoms associated with ADHD/ADD such as inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity, and has been shown to be as effective as stimulant medications are for most people. NFB can also be used for symptoms of Anxiety, Depression, poor emotional regulation, and migraines.
How does it work?
NFB works by training the electrical activity of the brain and encouraging the brain to produce the right kind of waves at the right time while encouraging healthier connections between different areas of the brain. Because we can pinpoint the areas of the brain that are associated with specific issues, we can help those areas begin to function in a healthier way. As the brain starts to regulate, new neural pathways are developed and reinforced, leading to long term changes and overall healthier functioning. It basically teaches your brain a new way to operate!
What happens in a NFB session?
We will begin with an intake session to discuss your history, symptoms, and concerns. The next session, we will give you a personalized Brain Assessment. Sensors will be placed on your head and ears, in order to “read” your brain’s electrical activity. It is completely safe and painless. It is similar to the doctor listening to your heartbeat. I will be assessing your brain waves in different areas of your brain. I will then generate a report that will indicate issues to address with therapy based on any abnormal or dysregulated brain wave activity. I will then use this along with the information from your intake session to develop your personalized treatment plan.
The following NFB sessions will include “training” using the audio-visual equipment while the sensors are attached to your head, earlobes, fingers, and possibly around your waist. I will read your activity as you watch a movie, play a game or listen to music. The computer will be programmed to reward your brain when you are producing the brain waves that we are wanting to increase, and when you are decreasing the brain waves that we do not want. For example, the game will stop or you will not be able to earn points if your brain produces the wrong kind of waves. Or, the music will get louder when you produce the desired waves. This reward cycle happens hundreds of times during the session. Your brain learns very quickly when it is appropriately rewarded. Over time, your brain will build new neural pathways and connections that balance the electrical activity, leading to positive changes in your brain. If you are committed to completing the recommended number of sessions, you will likely see good lasting results.
How many sessions will I need, how often do I have to come, and how long does the session last?
The number of NFB sessions you will need depends on your personal assessment. However, 20-40 sessions are typical for most people. Sessions will last approximately 30-45 minutes. I will be adapting your NFB based on how your brain responds over time. We will start out with shorter training times in the beginning and gradually increase as your brain adjusts. It is recommended that you commit to attending NFB sessions AT LEAST once per week. Regular reinforcement of the training is essential for positive outcomes. It will likely take several weeks for you to notice any changes. After 10-20 sessions, you may opt to have another Brain Assessment to determine progress and treatment can be adapted from there.
How is this different from the home rental NFB systems I have heard about?
Home rental systems are automated to train the brain in a general way to regulate it overall. This can be helpful for some. However, our clinician directed NFB is specialized for your personal symptoms. I can assess your brain and create a personalized treatment plan that targets your problem areas. You have the benefit of a Licensed Therapist who will be providing counseling services throughout the process. I will be using information you provide based on your progress and concerns to tweak your therapy along the way.
What are the side effects?
Most people have no side effects due to the safe, non-invasive nature of NFB. However, some do experience headaches, nausea, or sensitivity to light. These side effects are usually short lived and your NFB can be adjusted to decrease these effects if experienced. Those with histories of seizures and/or migraines may experience more negative side effects. A medical release is required in these cases.
NFB for symptoms of ADHD and ADD
NFB can be used to help with symptoms commonly associated with ADHD and ADD including poor attention and focus, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty managing emotions. People with ADHD tend to produce too many slow (theta) waves in their frontal lobes which decreased their ability to focus, plan and control impulses. NFB can train the brain to produce faster (beta or SMR) waves that are needed for concentration and attention. Over time, this leads to positive changes in the brain. Many studies have shown that NFB produces the same or better results for symptoms of ADHD as stimulant medications. NFB is an alternative, safe, non-invasive treatment for these kinds of symptoms.
NFB for anxiety
People struggling with anxiety may produce excessive beta waves in the right side or temporal lobe, of their brains. The amygdala which resides here, is very important in the fear/emotional response associated with panic attacks. NFB will likely include a protocol to teach the client to control breathing and heart rate and to reward slower brain waves in the temporal lobes that lead to less fear and more emotional regulation. Once the brain learns to stay balanced, you should feel a sense of control and contentment and your brain will be less likely to produce the symptomatic activity that was leading to the anxiety.
NFB for depression
People with depressed feelings usually have hypoactive left frontal alpha waves. If this is the case, NFB will focus on training the left frontal lobe to produce more active waves which should result in more positive feelings and thinking patterns.
NFB for Migraines
People with migraines usually have dysregulated brain wave activity between the left and right hemispheres. NFB will focus on regulating the 2 sides to be in more coherence, while decreasing the waves that are too fast or too slow.
What is the cost for NFB?
NFB is not usually covered by insurance. We can provide you with receipts to submit to your insurance company to request reimbursement. The cost for a personalized brain assessment is $75. You will receive a detailed report of symptoms and issues associated with your brain activity and a personalized treatment plan based on the treatment goals. This assessment is required before any further Neurofeedback can be done.
Due to the need for multiple sessions to reinforce the new brain activity we are training with Neurofeedback, we offer session packages. Package prices are as follows:
5 sessions: $300 ($60 per session)
10 sessions: $550 ($55 per session)
15 sessions: $795 ($53 per session)
20 sessions: $1000 ($50 per session and personalized brain assessment will be included in 20 session package price)
All packages must be paid for up front. If you choose to pay per session, sessions will be billed at $65 each.
You will receive Bio/Neurofeedback to address the problematic brain activity and learn self regulation skills, as well as professional counseling, coaching on nutritional and lifestyle modifications, and collaboration with your Primary Care Physician for medication management.
About the Neurotherapist
Lori Allen is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor with 17 years of extensive training and experience in ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and overall brain functioning. She completed the EEG (Neurofeedback) Clinical Applications training in October 2018 which included 40 hours of study in the history, protocols, techniques, applications, and procedures of NFB. She has completed over 150 client sessions. She is currently being mentored by a certified NFB clinician and is pursuing the requirements to obtain certification by the Biofeedback Certification International Association (BCIA). She is approved to practice NFB in a clinical setting.