Neurofeedback (NFB) is a form of brain training to improve functioning in core neuro-regulatory networks, including the Default Mode, Salience and the Executive Networks. EEG sensors pick up brain wave activity. The brain observes this activity, and by the method of Associative Learning improves its own self-regulatory skills. The brain does not need to be told what to do. The brain naturally improves its own performance based on feedback on its own activity in real time. This is a fundamental law of all skill learning. Self-regulation is the brain’s foundational skill.
NFB is a safe, non-invasive and non-verbal approach. It works by engaging the brain’s own mechanisms of self-regulation. NFB is not about learning to relax. The client is instructed not to try and do anything beyond attending to the process. NFB is very engaging, as the feedback is embedded in movies, YouTube, Netflix and video games (e.g. a movie expands and shrinks, a race car goes faster and slower). The impact is more like steadily moving towards how one might function “on a good day”. There is no feeling of sedating or constricting one’s feelings.
Neurofeedback makes sense to clients. Clients understand that their brain is stuck in hypervigilance, hyper-excitability, and/or dysregulation. They know that this is not by choice,
but a consequence of events in their life. NFB does not suppress normal emotions, energy or
creativity. Rather it opens possibilities for clients who are otherwise unable to reach their potential.
NFB is also pan-diagnostic. Because improved neural self-regulation impacts focus, sleep, mood, pain, emotional regulation, impulse control, energy and social awareness, it has been used to address: Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Suicidality, Substance abuse, TBI, ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Pain, Migraines and even Schizophrenia.
NFB is a true “Low-Barrier” treatment. It requires no effort on the part of the client. It can be done with clients of any age, from infants to the elderly. It is compassion-informed, non-judgmental and non-triggering. It can be used with client populations who typically don’t do well with verbally mediated therapies. It can be used with extremely wary clients as it requires no self-disclosure. Yet it can be readily integrated into talk therapy. It has been used with clients from a wide-range of cultures including Iraqi, Congolese and Tibetan refugees, Native-Americans, and in Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American countries. In the US, it has demonstrated its effectiveness with the underserved and marginalized communities.
NFB can be implemented within a wide-range of settings. It is suitable for: community mental health programs; veterans services; school special education services; substance abuse programs; foster care programs; programs for recently released prisoners; programs serving the homeless; programs serving battered women; drug courts and domestic violence programs.
We know that NFB works within our existing healthcare system. Existing employees can be trained in 40 hours, with training spread over several weeks using an online format.
Neurofeedback has huge cost/benefit implications. High utilizers are known to account for a significant portion of medical expenditures. Behavioral concerns are common with many medical high utilizers. NFB can work with these clients.