Takeaway: Are you struggling with sleep problems, anxiety, motivation, or trauma recovery and want a totally new approach to healing? Neurofeedback may be the answer. This is a cutting-edge, non-invasive approach that helps you retrain your brain and supports the mind-body connection. Connect with one of our neurofeedback providers in Santa Clara today to get started.
If you have an injury or a muscle you would like to strengthen, you might work with a physical therapist to learn about how your body is currently working and exercises to return your body to optimal functioning. Guess what? Your brain is no different. Surface neurofeedback allows a certified provider to see how a patient’s brain waves are functioning, the brain wave patterns your brain produces, and how this relates to how you feel and what you are experiencing. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive review of how neurofeedback works and how it can help you reduce anxiety, lower the risk of drug addiction, enhance talk therapy, and improve overall mental health.
What is neurofeedback?
Here at Cura Integrative Health, Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that involves using technology to measure brainwave patterns, Through electroencephalography (EEG), brain waves are monitored and real-time feedback about brain activity is provided. It is then presented to providers and patients in a way that allows them to consciously or subconsciously regulate their brain activity.
Does this sound confusing to you? We get it. It’s actually quite simple and can be fun! It has been researched for years and is based on basic and clinical neuroscience. Unlike other neuroscience interventions, neurofeedback services (EEG biofeedback) are non-invasive, meaning nothing enters your body or is “done to you.” Here is a simple video outlining what neurofeedback is and what it may offer you.
What to expect from the neurofeedback treatment process
In the first session, you will first meet with your clinician to discuss your current symptoms, report any brain injuries in your history, and discuss any historical diagnoses such as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, etc. From there, your clinician will ask your permission to place several sensors on your scalp to record your brainwave activity (alpha waves, delta waves, etc.) which is then transmitted to a computer. The clinician will then review these recordings and provide you with important information about your brainwave patterns and overall brain functioning.
Your clinician will review the findings from session one with you and make recommendations to you regarding specific neurofeedback treatment protocols, an estimation of how many neurofeedback sessions will be required, and hopes for desired improvements. The clinician will also report any indication that you may benefit from an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) referral.
Then the neurofeedback training will begin. The sensors placed on your scalp will send information presented to you in the form of audio, visual, or tactile feedback. This feedback can be presented in various ways, such as changing tones, altering visual displays, or even controlling a game.
Your brain likes rewards
Operant conditioning has long been used to change animal and human behavior by using rewards and negative reinforcement to change behavior. In neurofeedback training, without doing anything other than focusing on the presentation in front of you, your brain attempts to modify its activity. Over time we learn which mental states or techniques lead to desired changes in brainwave patterns, often without the feeling of “trying.”
Positive changes in brainwave patterns are reinforced through rewards like preferred images, collecting coins in a game, or clearer video streams, encouraging your brain to continue adapting to this new information and often times, reversing the effects that chronic stress and trauma have on brain wave activity and brain functions.
Short-term and with psychotherapy
Our experience is that neurofeedback is most effective in collaboration with psychotherapy. Combining these two types of treatment can help you increase self-control, and a sense of real progress in your treatment and helps your practitioner keep a close eye on your progress to make changes as necessary. In 10-20 sessions, you will be able to feel the benefits of neurofeedback therapy while gaining trust with your therapist. We find that when a patient’s brainwaves are regulated, talk therapy is much more efficient and effective.
Our approach to neurofeedback therapy in Santa Clara
Meet our Neurofeedback expert
Alysse Caraballo, AMFT, BCN, CCTP
Alysse is certified by the Biofeedback certification international alliance (BCIA), the highest certification level for Neurofeedback therapy in the world. Here’s what she says about how she incorporates neurofeedback training with psychotherapy and its clinical applications.
“As a neurofeedback provider with training in developmental trauma, DBR, DBT, mindfulness, and somatic interventions I help patients slow down and pay attention to what’s happening on the inside; enhance self-regulation skills, manage stress and build resilience as they gain insight into the patterns that no no longer serve them and navigate the way forward.”
You can read more about Alysse and neurofeedback here.
It is extremely safe.
Neurofeedback is non-invasive, which makes neurofeedback safe. It is rare that our patients report problematic side effects. Much like going to physical therapy, when you are working to improve focus, targeting specific brainwaves, or just noticing how your brain responds in neurofeedback therapy, you may feel a bit tired. This is because your brain is an excellent student, working really hard to be better for you!
Who our neurofeedback treatment is for
If you have trouble sleeping, find it hard to calm down or get motivated, have difficulty focusing or experience symptoms of trauma, or would like an alternative to psychiatric medications, this training may be for you.
ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
One of the initial ways that Neurofeedback helped patients was by addressing ADHD symptoms in the brain. We find that patients with ADHD symptoms often have slower brain wave activity in the front of the brain, making focus and executive functioning difficult. Through our training, we encourage the brain to make less of these brain waves in this area and find patients report more focus and less distraction over time. This has been well-researched and you can dive into some of that in this study at Tufts University.
The majority of our patients mention sleep difficulties when they meet us. Brainwave patterns show us that sometimes, folks with more than average beta waves (those waves can be associated with anxiety) often have sleep interruptions regularly. Through sensorimotor training in a specific part of your brain, we find that patients report increased calm and a sense of balance throughout their day. This often lends itself to increased quality of sleep which can have immediate benefits for working memory, executive functioning, and reduced stress.
Whether you experienced single-event trauma (car accident, assault, etc), a traumatic brain injury from a fall, or chronic childhood trauma (emotional, physical, sexual abuse), neurofeedback has been well-documented as an effective treatment. In his groundbreaking book, The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van der Kolk devotes an entire chapter to the efficacy of neurofeedback and why it should be offered to everyone with a trauma history. Once you understand that trauma changes the way the brain works in order to help you survive, you can begin to understand how these changes don’t often benefit you long-term. Neurofeedback therapy can help to regulate your brain waves to allow your brain to function no longer in survival mode, but in a way that allows you to thrive and explore your life. Dr. Sebern Fisher has dedicated her life to providing neurofeedback for those with developmental trauma and we also find the life-changing impact of neurofeedback in our offices every day.
FAQs about working with a neurofeedback therapist in Santa Clara
What is the success rate of neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback has been shown to be effective in treating many mental health disorders, however, it is important to note how the patient can impact this success. Again, we find that Neurofeedback therapy is best combined with psychotherapy and our most successful outcomes arise from patients who are willing to meet one to two times per week and are committed to their treatment.
Our clinicians stress from the beginning of the training that communication between patient and clinician is extremely important, as this allows clinicians to track progress in real-time and make adjustments as necessary.
Patients will be asked to share their goals for neurofeedback, and our clinicians often remind them that while we are highly experienced in providing specialized neurofeedback protocols, neurofeedback is not a “fix-all” and success is best measured when there are targeted symptoms to track such as sleep quality, anxiety symptoms, level of focus, etc.
Is EMDR the same as neurofeedback?
No. While both are indicated for patients with a history of trauma, they can help in very different ways.
EMDR is a psychotherapy technique that aims to reduce symptoms of PTSD and increase self-regulation by processing a traumatic experience while engaging in guided bilateral eye movements. This has been shown to reduce emotional reactivity related to the traumatic experience.
Neurofeedback involves monitoring a patient’s brainwave patterns and providing immediate feedback for the patient’s brain and the patients learn to experience more effective brain functions.
Neurofeedback therapy in Santa Clara can give you the integrative approach to healing you’ve been looking for.
Stress and trauma impact our minds, our bodies, and our souls – it’s time for a place that not only recognizes this but has intentionally built all of these pieces into treatment. We are unique in that we offer both psychotherapy and neurofeedback, as we believe your thoughts and feelings are directly linked to your brain waves.
Each day in our office, we hear stories and see the psychological and physiological effects of adverse experiences. Whether it is a violent experience, a strained relationship with a parent or partner, childhood neglect, or the chronic stress of a busy life, you deserve to know how this has impacted you. We aim to provide quality, effective treatment from the perspective that being human means you’ve experienced trauma. We believe trauma falls under a broader scope than our society and our medical community suggests.
Our approach targets your whole being: we are dedicated to helping people feel fulfilled, balanced, and hopeful for the future. Neuroscience, psychotraumatology research, and our psychodynamic roots help to make healing possible. You make sense to us. Reach out for a free consultation. Try neurofeedback and our integrative approach today.