NEUROFEEDBACK: WHAT IT IS AND HOW IT WORKS
Neurofeedback (NFB) heals the brain. Psychotherapy heals the mind. Together, neurofeedback and psychotherapy can create lasting change and recovery. Neurofeedback improves brain function so you can better engage in the psychotherapy process and make more conscious, healthy decisions for yourself.
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG Biofeedback, offers an additional treatment option for people with eating disorders, addictions, mood disorders, anxiety and attention deficit disorder. NFB has been around since the 1960's but it has not yet gained huge traction as a mainstream intervention, probably because the pharmaceutical industry holds the market on medication interventions. In addition, NFB equipment is expensive, so many clinicians shy away from using it. Nonetheless, there is a growing body of research showing neurofeedback efficacy in treating these disorders. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics has determined that NFB is a level two evidenced based practice in the treatment of ADHD. Neurofeedback also stabilizes the brain to reduce anxiety and depression, allowing for better, more lasting recovery from eating disorders and/or other addictions. It will not solve all your problems; and it can help stabilize your brain enough for you to do the recovery work necessary for lasting change.
At The Hull Institute, we use NeurOptimal ® Advanced Brain Training Systems developed by the Zengar Institute. After trying other equipment, we determined NeurOptimal ® offers us the best results, in the least amount of time. Rooted in technology, neurofeedback is a 100% non-invasive, drug-free, brain training system that helps the central nervous system (CNS) make the best use of your brain’s natural resources. NeurOptimal® is extremely powerful and effective.
How does neurofeedback work?
Our brains, the controllers of our bodies, are intricate systems of chemical and electrical activities with about 100 billion neurons. While we know a lot about how the brain works, there is still a lot to learn. What we do know is that the brain is designed to adapt to changes in the body and our environment and function well at all times. However, for a variety of reasons- genetics and environment- the brain gets "out of whack", so to speak, and does not function as well as it is able. The brain then becomes "dys-regulated". Simply put, a dys-regulated brain tends to be over-stimulated when it is supposed to be calm and under-stimulated when it is supposed to be attentive. Sometimes, the brain self-corrects. When it doesn't, this dys-regulation becomes “the new normal”. So it makes sense that we should be able to re-train the brain to function optimally, the way it was designed. In neurofeedback training, we work in conjunction with other treatments. When your brain is better regulated, it allows you to change behaviors and thoughts.
What happens in a NFB session?
The NeurOptimal® trainer will complete a thorough assessment with you and may have you fill out a survey listing your complaints and/or challenges that have brought you into the office.
You will next be placed in a quiet space, in a comfortable, reclining chair. The trainer will attach special sensors to your head that will feed your brain wave patterns into the NeurOptimal® program’s software.
A neurofeedback training session is relaxing, enjoyable and typically lasts about 30 minutes. As the session starts, you will hear music play through earbuds. You will hear occasional “skips” or interruptions in the music – this is the signal that prompts your brain to “reset” and optimize itself.
Neurofeedback training is non-invasive. We are not shocking the brain; we are not manipulating the brain. We are reinforcing when the brain waves function in an optimal fashion for the task at hand.
At the end of a session, you will most likely feel less stressed and more mentally clear. It is unlikely you will experience any negative after-effects as NeurOptimal® does not artificially “push” the brain in any specific direction. Many users experience deeper sleep and vivid dreams after their very first session.
How does it work?
The NeurOptimal® proprietary neurofeedback system is a highly personalized brain training software that prompts the central nervous system to help make the best use of your brain’s neural resources.
Neurofeedback training for the brain is similar to physical training for the body. Much of our suffering comes from pervasive recurring thoughts and feelings in which our minds become emotionally stranded or cognitively “stuck”. Neurofeedback prompts the brain to draw from its existing resources and pull itself out of these mental “ruts”. The result is a more open and positive mindset in which obstacles are more manageable and problems more resolvable.
Much like a mirror that promotes self-correction, NeurOptimal®’s proprietary neurofeedback program monitors your brain waves and then provides “feedback” to your central nervous system about what it has just done. When the software detects a tremor in your brain wave pattern, it sends an audible signal that encourages the brain to “reset” and self-correct.
How is NeurOptimal® different from other systems?
There are a few key factors that distinguish NeurOptimal® from other neurofeedback systems:
1. NeurOptimal® is effective because it is designed to work best with your individual brain.
It does not attempt to “fix” predetermined conditions or pin down specific problems. This was a limitation in many earlier neurofeedback systems. Often, resolving one problem in one area could cause problems elsewhere. The heart of the NeurOptimal® system -Dynamical Neurofeedback®- is a proprietary technology based in neuroscience and specifically designed with the naturally non-linear function of the human brain in mind. NeurOptimal® is built to harness the incredibly dynamic nature of your brain in a way other systems simply cannot match. As a result, this neurofeedback system can be used effectively to address a wide array of complaints without specifically “targeting” them from the outset of the training.
2. NeurOptimal® neurofeedback is extremely safe.
Research shows your own brain “knows best” and therefore the NeurOptimal® brain training system does not force or “push” the brain in any one direction. Basically, Dynamical Neurofeedback® provides your brain with the information it needs to correct itself and function at its most optimal. NeurOptimal® simply enables your own brain’s natural process of self-correction.
3. NeurOptimal® requires no effort on the user’s part.
Some brain training systems require the user to “interact” by playing games or solve puzzles during sessions. This additional level of interaction is unnecessary with the NeurOptimal® neurofeedback system. During a training session, you can simply relax and enjoy!
Neurofeedback for Eating Disorders and other Addictions
Neurofeedback for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
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