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Neurofeedback

Steps Recovery Center recognizes how vital the mind, body, and spirit are in their connection to the whole person. We take a holistic approach to treating those individuals with mental health disorders, which includes treating the whole person, and find that it tends to be more successful, especially since addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life. With a customized and individualized program, a holistic approach just makes sense. It affords an opportunity to meet the patient’s physical and psychological needs and allows them to engage physically, emotionally, and mentally. Also known as an EEG (electroencephalogram biofeedback), neurofeedback is a therapeutic intervention that provides immediate feedback via a computer-based program of someone’s brainwave activity. The program used sound or visual signals to reorganize or retrain these brain signals. By responding to this process, people can learn to regulate and improve or enhance their brain function. Doing so can help alleviate symptoms of various neurological and mental health disorders.
Frequencies of the Brain
Although neurofeedback isn’t considered a cure, it’s a method of managing or regulating the workings of the brain, so that it functions more healthily. This is done by the consistent treatment that targets dysfunctional areas of the brain that may be causing symptoms. By placing electrodes on the scalp, the electrical activity of the brain can be recorded. Different frequency components correspond with specific brainwaves, and according to the National Institutes of Health, include:
  • Delta – Sleep repair, complex problem solving, unawareness, deep-unconsciousness
  • Theta – Creativity, insights, deep states, unconsciousness, optimal meditative state, depression, anxiety, distractibility
  • Alpha – Alertness, peacefulness, readiness, meditation, deeply-relaxed
  • Lower alpha – Recalling
  • Upper alpha – Optimize cognitive performance
  • SMR (sensorimotor rhythm) – Mental alertness, physical relaxation
  • Beta – Thinking, focusing, sustained attention, tension, alertness, excitement
  • High beta – Intensity, hyperalertness, anxiety
  • Gamma – Learning cognitive processing, problem-solving tasks, mental sharpness, brain activity, and organizing the brain
When Neurofeedback is Used
Children, adolescents, and adults with neurological issues, such as seizure conditions, behavior disorders, attention deficits, and autism can benefit from using this method. Other issues it can help with include:
  • Acquired brain injuries
  • Ongoing developmental delays
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Stress-related illness
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Birth trauma
  • Insomnia
  • Interrupted sleep patterns
  • Age-related cognitive loss
 Neurofeedback may also be used as a complementary intervention with other forms of therapy.
What to Expect
Neurofeedback therapy usually consists of once-weekly sessions for an average of twenty weeks. Everyone is different and may react differently, so some people may need fewer sessions, while others may need longer ones. The person sits in a chair while a therapist attaches sensors to your scalp. The electrodes are placed over about 10 to 20 percent of the total distance between specified skull locations. They correlate to the corresponding cerebral cortical regions of the brain.  A computer EEG program will process your brain signals and relay information about various brainwave frequencies. Similar to using a video game, the person watches the graphics or listens to music—this while your brain and the central nervous system receives feedback signals from the program. Then, the program starts to direct your brainwave activity toward more desirable and controlled patterns. Immediate feedback from the program alerts the therapist as brainwave patterns improve. You should be able to notice changes in stress, sleep patterns, and mental clarity throughout the process.
Who Provides Neurofeedback?
The method of treatment is usually provided by mental health professionals like psychologists, family therapists, and counselors, and work on-one-on with the client. Rehabilitation specialists, nurses, and clinical social workers can also be trained to use the treatment. Typically, the training effects are permanent once the brain starts using its new capabilities, and thus reinforce them. There will be some issues that neurofeedback can’t correct or may be harder to adjust, such as with severe autism, Parkinson’s disease, allergies, and food intolerances. Also, poor digestive function may pose a problem, along with poor nutrition. Neurofeedback has a very good success rate, with outcomes that border on what may seem miraculous. However, it just shows the incredible ability of our brains to recover function when given the opportunity.