Neurofeedback therapy and Brain Training
Advancing technologies are merging with mental health treatments to create new ways of overcoming challenges. Neurofeedback therapy is one of those developing methods and can assist patients in retraining their brains without needing medications or ongoing talk therapy. In this article, we’ll look at how neurofeedback therapy is helping empower patients through brain training.
What is neurofeedback therapy?
Neurofeedback therapy is also called biofeedback. It’s a treatment method that monitors brain activity and seeks to retrain the brain using computer programs. Therapists using biofeedback track various physiological functions like brain waves, heart rate, blood pressure, etc., to see how the client’s body changes when the undesirable activity is present. In neurofeedback therapy, the brain is tracked, and changes monitored.
Neurofeedback therapy to treat conditions like anxiety or depression starts by recording how a client’s whole brain functions in a resting state for a few minutes.
This is called a brain map. It will show brain activity, so the therapist can compare how the brain usually functions with the client’s presenting issues. For example, brain activity ramps up when someone is feeling anxious. Because anxiety and depression are not just passing feelings (recurring), that pattern will show even when the brain rests.
Treatment will then involve brain training that helps the patient slow down when feelings of anxiety are present. In this way, clients can control their behaviors and their condition.
How does it work?
Research has demonstrated that neurofeedback therapy can retrain our brains to function differently than they do today. In short, our brains are malleable. Neurofeedback therapy uses our brains’ malleability (a trait called neuroplasticity) combined with conditioning to change behaviors.
In the world of psychology, conditioning = teaching. Conditioned behaviors are the ones learned through positive reinforcement or rewards.
One of the best examples is Pavlov’s dogs. In his experiments, Ivan Pavlov discovered that dogs could become conditioned to salivate when they become conditioned to make associations between environmental conditions and food. In this case, the dogs were trained to associate a bell with mealtimes. So much so that they would salivate when hearing the bell even if no food was presented.
Neurofeedback therapy uses tools like video games to promote healthier brain functioning. These games will reward good or desired behaviors and penalize undesirable behaviors. Over time, this can help with brain training to encourage desired behaviors and limit unwanted behaviors. In the same way, humans can change their behaviors based on the consequences of their actions.
Tracking brain activities
In neurofeedback therapy, brain functioning is tracked in one of two ways: electroencephalography (EEG) or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Both methods can track brain functioning for clients undergoing neurofeedback therapy. It is how therapists measure the success of brain training.
Sensors will be placed on the patient to track brain activity as they undergo neurofeedback therapy. The video game will offer more rewards as they progress towards the goal or the desired behavior.
What conditions can be treated with neurofeedback therapy?
Brain training can help clients overcome various disorders and negative behaviors, including ADHD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, ADD, and more. Patients can opt for this therapy rather than using medications to control unwanted behaviors.
How long does brain training take?
How long neurofeedback therapy or brain training is used varies from client to client, depending on their condition and goals. On average, neurofeedback therapy will be introduced in shorter training sessions.
Then, during the peak brain training phase, clients will undergo longer and more frequent sessions until the desired outcome has been reached. However, it’s important not to stop sessions at this point but to reduce the number of sessions over several weeks until the brain training is complete. Stopping too soon may mean the treatment won’t last, and you’ll need to start the process again. It’s important to continue training until the desired behavior, such as relaxation, is generalized and the client feels relaxed even when not training.
What if you’re already taking medications?
If you’ve already started taking medications for your condition, that does not rule out brain training therapies. You can still begin neurofeedback therapies while taking medications. However, the expectation would be to reduce the medications while relying more on neurofeedback therapy. This way, clients can decrease their need for medicines while working to overcome their challenges.
How to find a neurofeedback therapist?
Finding a therapist skilled at brain training means you’ll need to ask some important questions. Please find out how long they have been using the treatments and what past clients say about the neurofeedback therapy they’ve undergone with the therapist. You can ask for referrals or search online for what other clients say. However, remember that one or two bad reviews do not indicate that you should avoid the therapist. Instead, if you see a pattern of unhappy clients, it could be a sign that the therapist does not have the right skills when it comes to brain training.
Brain training at The Insight Clinic
At The Insight Clinic, we understand that you may be a little nervous about neurofeedback therapy but are also intrigued, so we want you to fully understand what to expect in a session. When you decide to start brain training with us, here is what each session will look like when you choose Direct Neurofeedback:
It will begin with electrodes placed on your head to help track the electrical activity in your brain. We use five sensors, and they are placed on your temple, in front of your ears, and behind your ears.
After sensors are in place and working, we will start tracking your brain activity as a baseline. Once this has been established, our system will send feedback to your brain. You won’t notice these signals, but your brain will feel different after receiving them.
The goal is to cue your brain to relax and to reward you for regulating your brain activity. Each session will help your brain train itself to improve functioning.
You may notice the effects of the brain training immediately, but you will need to reinforce this learning over many weeks and sessions until the brain has completed its learning.
Why trust The Insight Clinic
At The Insight Clinic, we put your needs first. Our mental health professionals offer a variety of treatments to help clients avoid simply medicating the problem. We have worked with clients to overcome many conditions with and without medication.
Our team is skilled at using neurofeedback therapy, and we have made this treatment affordable and available to everyone. Brain training has been shown to help you overcome various conditions, including anxiety, depression, OCD, and ADHD. Contact us today and start your healing journey.