How can neurofeedback nourish your soul?
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive complementary modality that involves measuring your brain activity via EEG (electroencephalogram) and providing you with visual and/or audio information about this in real time. By receiving biofeedback about your own brainwaves, you can learn to gradually train yourself to change the mental patterns associated with stress, anxiety, ADHD and other conditions.
This modality is based on the principle of neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s ability to change its own structure as you learn and interact with the world. Neurofeedback supports this process through a psychological mechanism called operant conditioning, which is simply involves being rewarded for achieving the desired brainwave states.
As you practise self-regulating the behaviour of your brain, you get a better sense of what resourceful brainwave patterns ‘feel like’. Over time, this may help you train yourself to deliberately re-create these mental conditions in daily life as needed.
Benefits of neurofeedback
Neurofeedback is intended to help you learn to regulate the function of your brain and promote healthier and more desirable mental activity. Research suggests this modality may result in physical changes to the structure of the brain, meaning that the possible improvements may be long-lasting and possibly permanent.
Research suggests neurofeedback may offer offer promising benefits for people suffering from ADHD, and associated improvements to working memory. Another key benefit is that neurofeedback does not carry the risks or side-effects of pharmaceutical medication or surgery, possibly making it a viable alternative for treating various psychological disorders. Neurofeedback has also been studied as a way of possibly decreasing the symptoms of major depression.
The results of one study suggest neurofeedback may significantly decrease the hyperarousal associated with PTSD, and it is reported that this modality may help alleviate underlying causes of sleep problems, such as brainwave inflexibility.
Neurofeedback may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Acquired brain injury (ABI)
- Alcohol and drug addiction
- Brain fog and clarity
- Concentration, focus and problem solving
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Headaches and migraines
- Insomnia and sleep disorders
- Learning difficulties
- Memory and cognitive function
- Pain relief
- Panic attacks
- PTSD and trauma
- Sports performance
- Stress and tension
What to expect from a neurofeedback session
Some people undertake neurofeedback as a standalone treatment, but it is often utilised as part of a mental health treatment program. Before your first neurofeedback session, you will be asked about your medical history and the condition you are seeking treatment for. You will also receive an initial evaluation of your brainwave activity prior to treatment, which your therapist may use to customise your treatment.
To measure your brainwave activity, your therapist will place electrodes on your scalp and earlobe. The electrodes are connected to a computer which translates the faint electrical signals from your brain into a meaningful form of feedback. This may take the form of a simple on-screen computer game such as navigating a maze, or listening to music which stops and starts in response to your brain activity.
As you focus your attention on the game or the music, you will make progress and be rewarded for your success whenever the electrodes detect the healthier brainwave state you are aiming to reinforce. With practice, you will become better at developing these brainwave states, and learn what it ‘feels like’ when your brain is functioning efficiently.
A typical neurofeedback session often lasts around 30 minutes, and attending two or more sessions per week is advisable. The total number of sessions you require will depend on your condition, but generally about 20 weeks of treatment is enough to ensure lasting results.
As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing neurofeedback. If you have an injury or other health issue, or any concerns at all, also speak to your neurofeedback, who will be happy to address these and advise you on how suitable neurofeedback training might be for you.