What is Neurotherapy and Top 10 FAQ
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. How often do you need to come for 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.
5. When do you stop the 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.
6. How long before I notice changes from the 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.
7. Do symptoms ever get worse with neurofeedback training? No clinician has reported symptoms getting worse over the long-term using neurofeedback. When you train the brain, the brain seems to work towards homeostasis. This tends to move symptoms towards normality, regardless of the training effect.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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 (www.bcia.org). We strongly recommend reading Dr. Swingle’s article “Choosing a Qualified Neurotherapist” (www.swingleclinic.com/media) before making a decision.