10 Reasons Why I Love Neurofeedback

  1.  It has little to no side effects.  Being that neurofeedback is training and not a treatment, people generally only notice a budding increase in wellbeing.  It’s not unheard of at the beginning, especially in more sensitive populations, to have mild headaches or sleep disturbance, however when administered correctly, neurofeedback should be shaping someone into health, and therefore alleviate symptoms.  This is a dramatic contrast to psychiatric medications, which even when working correctly can cause weight gain or loss, diminished libido, nausea, insomnia, rashes, acne, paranoia, and other unpleasant side effects.
  2. It is biologically diagnostic – which means it identifies and correctly treats your disorder.  In our office, we do not refer people by diagnosis.  ADD, depression, and many other psychological disorders are due to varying electrical imbalances.  It is time-consuming, and sometimes detrimental, to explore different medication routes instead of quickly surveying for the problem and creating a protocol based on that person’s needs.  We use a comprehensive approach of mapping someone’s brainwave activity in addition to symptomatic complaints to decide the best method of care.
  3. Makes clients feel in control of their wellbeing.  We do not let people be passive.  With a psychiatric approach, people are asking for help and then being administered a treatment.  In our office, people are responsible for their own success.  They must learn to correct their brain, versus allowing a chemical to change it for them.  This is particularly important in children.  Our child clients can feel a sense of accomplishment when they complete their training session, instead of being unsure of what is so wrong with them that they need drugs.  We create individuals who have a strong belief in their own power to change their situation, whereas medicating people teaches “learned helplessness”.
  4. Surprise benefits.  Several of my clients have come in with a specific symptom to address, such as sleep disturbances, but discover a cornucopia of other profits once they have worked on their brainwaves.  Actual reports have included weight loss and balanced eating, greater awareness of when they are getting sick, being more comfortable in social settings, enhanced mental energy for work, and improved relationship with their spouse.  When the brain is better organized, you are more capable of presenting your best self.
  5. Lasting changes.  We are teaching the client’s brain how to perform optimally.  Often, the people that have come to see us have adapted unhealthy brainwave patterns, which were repeated so often, they became the most efficient program.  Neural networks are like trails in the woods – the more you travel them, the clearer and more readily identified they become.  So while it may be more conducive to take the neural pathway of remaining calm when you get cut off in traffic, if your anger pathways are clearer, your brain will automatically rev into cussing the person and trying to ram the back of their car.  So, if we are able to teach the person how to clear the healthy neural pathways to the point where they are easiest to travel, the brain will adopt these as the most efficient method, and continue to keep those trails alive.  With medication, most people only see benefit while the drug is in their system, so they often are lifetime prescribers.  Our clients are able to be trained for a short time and then live healthily afterwards.
  6. Treatment course can be relatively short.  As a continuum of my last statement, our treatment periods are often short.  Depending on the severity of someone’s condition, and how receptive their brain is to change, we can see people for as little as 20 visits.  We can often achieve permanent changes in the length of time it takes to even start noticing benefits of medication.  The shorter amount of treatments necessary, in addition to not having to pay for pills, turns out to also be more financially beneficial in the end.
  7. Non-addictive and there are no withdrawals.  I have never had a client scratching at my door to get one more session of neurofeedback.  Most of my clients are excited when they have graduated.  Even with taking medications responsibly, however, it is hard to avoid addiction.  Your brain is shockingly lazy, and if it can have something else do all the work for it, it will.  Which means even if you take your sleep medication “only when you need it” (quotations because of the realness of that phrase, not to be factious) you will still create a dependence on that medication that prevents good sleep the nights without it.  Many drugs have a half-life that far extends the length of positive benefits.  Neurofeedback allows you to safely alleviate your problems.  I can’t help any withdrawals experienced from missing out on my own or my coworkers’ delightful company, however.
  8. Removes labels.  I think one of the biggest goals of my training with people is to make them feel free of being labeled “crazy”.  I believe there is a great deal of relief in the concept that you are merely out of balance somewhere in your brain and can restore that balance to feel more “normal”.  It’s no longer a message of “I’m crazy, and I’m just stuck this way”.  Even with a therapeutic approach, being labeled with a diagnosis can dramatically alter a person’s view of themselves.  I have witnessed many a time people giving in to what they assume is a problem they will eternally struggle with, when the truth of the matter is they can train their brain to not be depressed or anxious anymore.
  9. More treatment options.  Psychiatry is fairly limited.  If a person does not show a response to a drug, their prescriber can either up their dosage or try another medication.  With neurofeedback training, I have a dozen possible training routes to address the same problem, depending on what is most successful for the individual.  Our practice is also lucky enough to have systems to address heart rate variability, LENS (Low Energy Neurofeedback System, in which a signal is actually transmitted to the brain), HEG training (hemoencephalography, measuring blood flow to an area of the brain), and rhythmic light and sound stimulation, to name a few.  It is very rare that we cannot find one pathway that does not work for someone.  This is also why neurofeedback has proven to be more successful than any other treatment for issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  10. We train for optimal performance.  I remember being enraptured by Lauren Slater’s article for Elle magazine entitled “Killing My Body to Save My Mind”.  The author says she is being forced to pay the price of an 80 lbs. weight gain in order to avoid suffering from near-psychotic depression.  I feel almost guilty reading this (masterfully written) work, knowing that I hold a potential “cure” for depression which come free of the health-wrecking side effects.  We allow people to be their best.  With neurofeedback, there is no negotiating a healthy body or a lively personality for sanity.  We are able to let people shine at their best.  My client who describes herself as having a “jalapeno personality” won’t lose her spunk, but will gain the clarity of having a more peaceful mind.
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