What is Neurofeedback?
It seems that our brains require the ability to transition to and from various mental states to perform specific tasks many times throughout the day. These states correspond to the production of particular EEG wavelengths. Problems in the form of unwanted symptoms occur when the brain becomes “stuck” in a particular state. This can be observed in depression (often observed as an imbalance of excessive slow-wave activity), as well as stress and anxiety (disproportionate fast-wave activity), by way of example. Healthy brains retain the ability to flexibly move from state to state when called upon to do so. Neurofeedback can train the brain towards increased flexibility and reduced “stuckness.”
Healthy brains also exhibit traits of resilience, that is, the ability to ‘bounce back’ from difficult life circumstances, lack of sleep, and exposure to harmful substances. Neurofeedback can also train the brain to become more resilient against neurological consequences associated with these, and other kinds of undesirable conditions.
How does neurofeedback work?
This form of neurofeedback is based on the clinical evidence and research showing that the brain is quite capable of changing itself if it has the correct information. During neurofeedback, our system will monitor your brain 256 times per second through EEG and evaluate its operation. Based on the evaluation of your brain, it will set thresholds that the brain should stay within. When your brain goes outside of these thresholds, the system will provide feedback to your brain about its position on the various wavelengths through interruptions in the audio track and video stream. Since these interruptions are paired with your own specific brain activity, your brain knows to connect the dots and will now have the information about its position on the various wavelengths, and will adjust itself.
An analogy that many of our clients find helpful in understanding neurofeedback is our experience while driving. When we drive, we’ll often move slightly too far over to the right, and our tires will cross the shoulder line, and we’ll hear the noise of the rub strips, or hear gravel under the tires. When we hear this noise, we naturally move over to the left automatically. We don’t have to think about it, we don’t have to manually go through steps to figure out what to do, we just automatically know that we are out of place, and need to move back into our lane.
This is what neurofeedback does for our brain. It signals to our brain, “You’re over here,” and our brain instinctually takes that information and responds, “Oh, I’m over here and I should be over there,” and adapts accordingly.
How long does neurofeedback take to work?
A helpful analogy is to view our brain training similarly to training our muscles at a gym. Going to the gym in any capacity is likely to be beneficial. Going once per week, you’ll certainly notice a difference, but if you go twice per week you’re going to notice results much faster. All this being said, we will be happy to design a training schedule that fits best for you.
Our home rental program can also be a good option to train multiple family members, or to train more intensively. How often you can do the training at home will depend on how your brain responds. Some people can train daily, some find every other day best, and some find a different schedule is most helpful. We can certainly work with you to determine what schedule may fit your situation and needs, and are happy to receive feedback while you’re training and provide input on your scheduling.
What conditions can neurofeedback help?
- Trauma and PTSD
- Mood regulation, particularly in autism and Borderline Personality Disorder
- Chronic pain management
- Hypervigilance and racing thoughts
- Stomach and Gastrointestinal issues
- Cognitive impairment and Dementias
- Stress Reduction
- General wellbeing and overall health
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM NEUROFEEDBACK?
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive alternative to those who react adversely or fail to respond to mainstream treatments or those who prefer self-regulatory intervention.
It is particularly appropriate for those who have not responded well to pharmaceutical interventions, who have experienced unwanted side effects resulting from medication use, who are pregnant and therefore do not want to take medication, or who would prefer a non-chemical intervention. Neurofeedback recruits the brain’s own neuroplastic mechanisms, essentially training it to function more adaptively. Similar to learning anything new, the effects of training are sustained such that approximately 12 – 20 sessions on average are all that is required.
Neurofeedback can restore optimal sleep-wake cycles, stabilize emotions, and reduce cravings. As the brain is returned to optimal functioning, becoming increasingly adaptive and resilient, symptoms are reduced.
Because neurofeedback trains the brain toward optimal functioning, this procedure is useful for a wide variety of individuals looking to increase their performance in sports, at work, academics, or general quality of life.
How Effective is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback can be very effective in relieving symptoms across many conditions. The changes can be very subtle at times, but very significant. A young man came to us with significant generalized anxiety. He had tried medications over the years, and some helped, but the side effects were no longer tolerable. He did neurofeedback daily for a month using a home rental, and after 2 weeks, he wasn’t sure it was helping. After a short discussion, he realized that he no longer felt like he had a 100lb weight on his chest while driving to work. After a month, his generalized anxiety was far less significant and was not interfering in his daily life.
I’ve always been a proponent of cutting-edge research and interventions in our work to help people live their best lives possible. Neurofeedback is an amazing tool that has so many benefits, it’s almost unbelievable. By helping the brain train to run be more efficient and healthy, we can access the biological mechanisms at work behind many mental health and physiological conditions and provide relief. We can also access the Central Nervous System (CNS) directly to provide relaxation and relief from stress. It’s no secret that stress is at the root of many conditions, whether causing or exacerbating them, and by providing relief to the CNS, and training to the brain, we can provide great relief to our clients.
Co-Founder, Executive Director, Senior Counsellor
Registered Clinical Counsellor, Neurofeedback Practitioner
NEUROFEEDBACK HOME PROGRAM
NEUROFEEDBACK IN METRO VANCOUVER AREA
We have a team of counsellors and therapists that work with individuals, children, adolescents, couples, and families and are able to help navigate many of the challenges that people face in their everyday life.
How does neurofeedback work?
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Is Biofeedback the same as neurofeedback?
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Does neurofeedback work for autism?
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