What is Neurofeedback?
Emotional and physical health are often discussed in terms of symptoms and solutions to symptoms. For example, attention deficit disorder (ADD) is diagnosed by a list of chronic symptoms and then treated with the appropriate combination of medication, behavior modification and therapy.
Rarely are brain wave patterns considered when there are emotional or physical ailments. However, with every illness, the brain has to adapt and manage changing circumstances. This means that the brain waves can create patterns that are less than optimal and that do not support emotional and physical health. Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, no-harm feedback system that doesn’t involve any electrical transfer, but simply lets the brain reconfigure itself for optimal performance. This occurs by allowing the current brain wave configuration to essentially remap or rewire itself.
Neurofeedback begins with a quantitative electroencephalogram (EEG), called a brain map, that shows a snapshot of the fastest-to-slowest brain waves: beta, alpha, theta and delta, respectively. The map illustrates the intensity and frequency of the brain waves and how well the two sides of the brain communicate. This pattern is compared to optimal brain wave patterns, which have been documented and researched for decades, and a protocol is developed to help the brain wave pattern achieve optimal status. A series of thirty, 30-minute sessions are recommended for changes to occur and settle into a new pattern. Much like therapy in which the ultimate goal is to change behavior, neurofeedback’s ultimate goal is to align the current brain patterns to an optimal brain pattern state.
For example, ADD has been linked to an excess of theta (slower brain waves) in the pre-frontal lobes of the brain—waves that can be rebalanced to non-excess levels using neurofeedback. With rebalanced brain waves, the person no longer experiences the symptoms associated with ADD. Neurofeedback has likewise been highly successful in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, depression, anxiety, addictions, chronic pain and many more issues. Clients that experience neurofeedback often feel better, are more focused and experience emotional stability, to name a few benefits.
Like physical exercise, neurofeedback is equivalent to exercise for the brain as it creates new patterns that promote brain health. As brain health increases, an individual’s happiness and life satisfaction increases, along with resiliency. An individual whose brain functioning is more optimal can manage stress effectively and deal with emotional events in healthy ways. Everyone needs a healthy body, a healthy emotional state and a healthy brain.
David Piltz, MA, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist and founder of M.E. Matters, located at 668 Woodbourne Rd., Ste. 108, in Langhorne. For more information, call 215-883-0118, email [email protected] or visit MEMatters.org. October 2018