Last Updated on March 10, 2021 by Inspire Malibu
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could monitor our body’s chemistry on a particularly good day, and then use that data to deal with a particularly bad day in a more positive manner? We can do exactly that using Neurofeedback Therapy.
Neurofeedback goes by a variety of names such as Biofeedback, Neurotherapy or Neurobiofeedback. Regardless of the term you use, Neurofeedback is a form of neurotherapy that measures bodily functions such as brain activity, heart rate, blood pressure, and others.
Understanding Neurofeedback and Brainwaves
To understand how Neurofeedback works, first it’s necessary to know how the brain communicates and ways to measure it.
Brain waves are electrical impulses that interact with various regions of the brain. The electrical activity works at alternating levels or frequencies depending on the brain state at the current moment.
Some of the most common brainwave frequencies in order of lowest to highest include:
- Delta Brainwaves
- Theta Brainwaves
- Alpha Brainwaves
- Beta Brainwaves
Delta waves occur during deep sleep, whereas Beta waves are associated with being awake and engaged in an activity or with another person.
Under normal conditions, each person’s brainwaves will flow naturally and change states depending on their activity level or engagement, such as when meditating or sleeping.
For people who have some form of brain dysregulation due to a mental health condition or addiction, normal brainwave patterns can become erratic or out of sync.
When this happens, it further complicates any issues a person may be having and amplifies them, like in the case of anxiety, depression, PTSD, or others.
Because all of this brain activity is happening inside a person’s head, it can’t be seen unless we use a tool like Neurofeedback.
How Does Neurofeedback Work?
In it’s simplest terms, Neurofeedback Therapy monitors or measures brainwave activity and frequencies in real time as they are happening.
This is accomplished by attaching sensors to the outside of the scalp that are connected to a computer and is monitored by a Neurofeedback technician.
Brain waves can also be measured using a technique called Electroencephalography or EEG.
All of this might sound scary, but it is actually a non-invasive procedure and is painless without any side effects.
Neurofeedback therapy tracks and measures a person’s physical responses in real time.
This allows the Neurofeedback technician or therapist to actually see how brain activity is reacting to various stimuli and get an idea of where problems may exist so they can be treated or managed.
Ways to Use Neurofeedback Therapy
There are actually two steps to using Neurofeedback Therapy:
- Measuring brain activity
- Training the brain to be more efficient
Once we have an idea of the activity that is happening inside a person’s brain, the next step is to train the brain to regulate negative impulses and change them to positive ones.
Again, this is a very simple way of thinking about a complex technology.
Athletes practice over and over until their motions become fluid and natural and they experience the outcomes they desire, like a golfer hitting golf balls at the driving range. When they first begin, they might not have much control, but over time, they become more proficient.
The brain is more complex, and it requires Neurofeedback to actually see the brainwave activity on a computer screen to understand what is happening or know how to change it.
With training and practice, brainwave information can be used to reduce stress during times of crisis by controlling the body’s automatic mental and physical reactions.
It can also be used for many other neurological disorders to self-regulate brain activity, relax when aroused, or improve focus, concentration, emotions, and behavior, as well as many others.
Much like the non-invasive non-invasive TMS Therapy, Neurofeedback Therapy has shown to be useful for treating a wide range of brain related conditions for children and adults including:
There are many other conditions that can be treated using Neurofeedback Therapy and these are some of the most common.
Here are 10 Facts About Neurofeedback Therapy
1. Neurofeedback Therapy is Very Versatile
Neurofeedback is used to treat a wide variety of conditions, such as anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, insomnia, hypertension, muscle tension and chronic migraines, among others.
It has shown to be extremely beneficial for many mental health conditions by learning to overcome the causes or symptoms through training the brain to recognize them as they occur.
2. Neurofeedback is Safe
Neurofeedback has proven to be a safe safe and painless type of therapy without any negative side effects.
3. Responses are Recorded
With the help of a neurofeedback technician, a patient’s physical responses are recorded during a Neurofeedback Therapy evaluation period.
4. Neurofeedback Therapy Reveals Hidden Activity
Most patients aren’t even aware of the physical and neurological responses their bodies generate on a daily basis until they are given this information.
5. It Measures Brainwaves
An EEG measures brain waves. Beta waves show wakefulness. Alpha waves reflect relaxed alertness. Theta waves indicate calmness.
6. Brainwave Retraining Heals the Brain
Addiction can alter normal brainwave patterns due to functional and structural changes in the brain. Using neurofeedback techniques, patients can retrain these patterns over time to help heal the brain and return to normal functioning.
7. Improved Rates of Abstinence
Neurofeedback has shown to improve the rate of abstinence for those in recovery from substance abuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol.
8. Patients Stay in Treatment Longer
For those in rehab for addiction, Neurofeedback Therapy has proven to reduce the number of patients that leave treatment early against medical advice and they stay in treatment for longer periods of time. This results in better treatment outcomes and reduced relapse rates.
9. Improves Test Scores
After Neurofeedback Therapy, patients taking the MMPI-2, the most used personality test, showed major improvement in 5 of the 10 scales. They also show increased scores on similar tests.
10. Increases Confidence
Many people report a newfound confidence after learning that they can better control aspects of their mental and physical reactions to stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
Substance Abuse Treatment and Neurofeedback Therapy
Many times, a pre-treatment evaluation for substance abuse will show that a person is also suffering from a co-occurring disorder such as depression or anxiety. The best course of action would be to treat both the mental disorder and addiction at the same time to eliminate the root cause of the problem.
Neurofeedback Therapy is a great recovery tool for those suffering from addiction or a combined co-occurring disorder.
It is a non-invasive technique that teaches patients how to handle their mind and body and interact with the world in a more positive and productive way.
It is also incredibly effective when coupled with evidence-based, non 12 step rehab therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy.
You might also be interested in:
Inspire Malibu is the premier Non 12 Step, drug, alcohol, and detox treatment center in Malibu California led by board certified addiction specialist Dr. Matthew Torrington, MD. Our state-of-the-art treatment program combines the latest scientific research with proven, evidence-based therapies to address both alcohol and substance abuse successfully.
Inspire Malibu is Joint Commission (JCAHO) accredited and has been designated a Higher Level of Care from the Department of Health Care Services. We are also uniquely qualified to address dual diagnosis disorders.