Biofeedback therapy is a process in which a client learns to monitor and regulate the mind and body in ways that promote mental and physical health and well-being. Initially, this is done with the assistance of a clinician and special equipment. This equipment includes sensors that monitor respiration, heart rate, skin temperature, muscle tension, and brain waves. Eventually, the client may learn how to monitor and regulate on their own without equipment.
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive method of reading your body’s brain wave activity. With Neurofeedback we are able to identify where your levels of brain activity are. We know what normal is and because we know that we are able to identify where you are in that range. We are able to identify abnormal patterns of the brain activity for which various symptoms can be attributed to. Too much activity of certain brainwaves can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, aggression, and ADHD. Not enough activity can lead to anxiety, depression, and ADHD. By knowing what normal is and identifying where your activity levels are, we can work on regulating those levels to help you obtain optimal activity levels.
Your brain produces four primary types of brain waves: Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. Beta is primarily active during your awake state, which is the majority of your day. Alpha has to do with your subconscious, and is dominant during relaxed states when your eyes are closed but you are not asleep. Theta is present briefly during the periods before you fall asleep and before you fully wake up. Delta is primarily active when you are asleep. All of these brain waves are equally important to your health, and neurological disorders can be attributed to specific brain waves. For example, when you have brain irregularities caused by a head injury, your brain may have too much frontal theta or delta being produced when you are supposed to be awake and alert. By retraining these abnormal patterns in the affected areas, symptoms can be improved or eliminated.
Neurofeedback sessions involve relaxing for 30 minutes while you watch a movie or listen to music of your choice. Electrodes are attached to your scalp that monitors your brainwaves during the session. When irregular patterns are detected, a response is triggered from the software that pauses or dims the video or music. This response will automatically cause you to focus more, which will move your brainwaves back into normal ranges. With repetition of this process over multiple sessions, your brain can learn to stay within healthy ranges on its own without neurofeedback.
The number of sessions needed depends on the individual and the particular condition that has been determined. Much like going to the gym, every person requires a different length of time to improve. 20 – 40 sessions is normal for many conditions to improve or even be eliminated. However, people have reported positive changes after just a few sessions.
Neurofeedback makes a permanent change to your brain activity. Seeing these results vary by individual, but most clients see positive changes after just a few sessions.
Biofeedback is useful for a variety of difficulties faced by our client population. At this time, we are offering this service for clients who meet the following criteria:
• Interest in mindfulness, meditation, or body awareness
• Committed to individual practice of skills
• Difficulty with any of the following:
- attention and concentration (ADHD, ADD)
- impulsive decision making
- emotion regulation/anger management
- memory difficulties
- eating disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- sleep issues (insomnia)
- behavioral Issues
- speech and Motor Skills
• The client is interested and willing to incorporate a different kind of tool into their recovery process
Next time: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
Amanda Bergeron, BA
InMindOut Emotional Wellness Center, LLC