What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is biofeedback for the brain. The training tends to improve cognitive function, attention, mood, anxiety, and behavior. It helps quiet the mind. It is painless and generally has no side effects.
How is neurofeedback used clinically?
Think of it as regulating central nervous system-related problems or “dysregulation”. It’s commonly used for a wide variety of conditions such as ADD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, autism, panic attacks, optimal performance, traumatic brain injury, seizures, and sleep problems, all without expensive and often ineffective drugs. Different problems are often trained differently.
Would Neurotherapy Help?
At Swingle Clinic we use neurotherapy to help alleviate a wide range of problems. You should consider neurotherapy for the following conditions:
- Attention Deficit Disorders
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
- Learning Disorders
- Autism / Asperger’s
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Seizure Disorders
- Depression and Mood Disorders
- Traumatic Stress Disorders
- Fibromyalgia and Pain Disorders
- Sleep Disorders
- Chronic Fatigue
We also work with brain optimization for individuals who just want to be the best they can be!
What is the first step?
In order for us to determine how we can help, the client needs to come in for an intake session where we will complete what we call a “brain map” of 5 brain locations (generally used for ADD, ADHD, etc.) or 19 locations (generally used for closed head injury, seizures and stroke). This initial appointment takes one hour and costs between $160 – $200 (5 point brain map) or $310 (19 point brain map). The follow up treatments are done by our technicians, cost $115 and total clinical hour is a proximately 50 minutes. On average, after every four or five treatments we do a reassessment session with the client’s supervisor. These sessions range between $150 and $190 depending on who the client is assigned to, and are designed for the client to learn about the progress and the next step.
Are these sessions covered by extended medical?
If you have extended health benefits, you may be eligible for coverage. We do not bill the providers directly, so we recommend that you contact the provider and see if you are covered for psychological services. Dr. Swingle is a registered psychologist. You would then submit your receipt for reimbursement.
How can I make an appointment?
Please give us a call at 604.608.0444, if you wish to make an initial appointment, or if you prefer, please email us your contact information and indicate when it is the best time to reach you, and you will receive a call from one of our front desk representatives.
How many sessions are needed?
That’s like asking how many times you need to go to the gym before you get in shape? The answer is different for everyone. It could be 10 visits, or it could be 40. Treatment time will vary extensively by client. Typically due to brain development and plasticity the younger you are the shorter your treatment. The severity of your case will also be a factor. For example, Traumatic Brain Injury is a significantly longer process than ADHD. The goal is to complete enough brain training – enough learning – to ensure consistent and lasting benefits.
How often do you need to come for treatment/training?
Once a week is typical. Three to four times a week can be helpful depending on your individual case (for example, for clients who come from out of town and want to maximize their treatment time). It would depend on your individual case and the recommendations made by your clinical Supervisor.
When do you stop the treatment/training?
We recommend not stopping training the minute symptoms get better. It takes some time for the brain to learn a new habit. By continuing to train a few sessions after you’ve noticed consistent and reliable improvement, you turn the healthier patterns into a new brain habit.
How long before I notice changes from the treatment/training?
Many people begin to notice changes within six sessions. In part, it depends upon the kind of improvements being tracked. On occasion, it can take longer than 10 sessions to note any signs of change. In a case like that, the client and clinician should discuss progress very closely. Sometimes the client doesn’t notice changes, but people close to them do. The changes you are likely to notice first may not be for the problems you started brain training. If this is the case, keep in mind any change is a good sign. This means the brain is responding. One of the challenges is that changes noted from training can be very subtle, particularly initially. Clinicians often watch sleep carefully because it’s easy for most people to notice, and it is often the first thing to change.
Do symptoms ever get worse with neurofeedback training?
How long does the effect of training last?
Research shows that once the problem is fixed it remains fixed provided that neurotherapy continues until the brainwave changes are stable. This is in sharp contrast to some other forms of symptom control such as the use of medication for conditions such as anxiety and depression in which discontinuation results in relapse often at exacerbated symptom intensity. The exception is for clients who wish to pursue peak or optimal performance training. Clients wishing to maintain optimal brain functioning may receive neurotherapy sessions on a continuous basis just as one does gym workouts on a continuous basis to maintain physical well-being. Elderly clients often receive periodic neurotherapy to mitigate age related declines in brain efficiency.
Can it be used while a patient is on medication?
Clinicians report that more than half their neurofeedback clients start neurofeedback while taking one or more medications. After training for a while, it is often possible to reduce medication under appropriate supervision. We ask that clients refrain from taking stimulants or suppressants (including caffeine) for at least 2 hours before each session.
Who can do neurofeedback? Do you need a license?
There are non certified or non licensed individuals with minimal or no training in neurofeedack obtaining equipment, then offering services to others. We, together with a large group of professionals in the field are very concerned that they are treating without a license. Protect and inform yourself by choosing only registered professionals through the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance. We strongly recommend reading Dr. Swingle’s article “Choosing a Qualified Neurotherapist,” here, before making a decision.
How do I find a good neurotherapist in my area?
As in any field, really good practitioners are difficult to find. The three basic requirements qualified practitioners should have are:
- certification in neurotherapy by the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (www.bcia.org)
- a valid license in a relevant health field (e.g., psychology or medicine).
- successful experience in treating your condition.
A practitioner’s best referral source is clients who have been successfully treated.
My psychologist/physician has told me that there is no scientific evidence supporting neurotherapy. What should I do?
Unfortunately, some health practitioners dogmatically embrace very narrow beliefs about conventional treatments for which, ironically, there is often very limited evidence of efficacy. For example, hard evidence for the effective drug treatment of depression is minimal, as is the evidence for effective treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder with psychotherapy. It is usually these same practitioners who will, out of ignorance, make dogmatic statements about the lack of scientific evidence for treatment methods different from their own. In addition, clinical practitioners are, more often than not, very poorly trained in scientific research methods, so they frequently rely on what they are told or want to believe, rather than on actual data.
Our advice is to do your own research by consulting the scientific literature found in such journals as The Journal of Neurotherapy; Journal of Applied Psychophysiology and Bio-feedback; Biological Psychiatry; Child Study Journal; Brain and Cognition; Clinical Neuro-physiology; Neuropsychology; International Journal of Psycho-physiology; Canadian Journal of Clinical Medicine; Journal of Head Trauma; and many others.
Many articles from these journals are available on the Web. Make up your own mind about the scientific efficacy for neurotherapy. It is unlikely that you will be successful in getting dogmatic health practitioners to consider the benefits of neurotherapy for their clients, in spite of its well-documented therapeutic applications.