How to supercharge therapy with neurofeedback for faster results

Enhance traditional therapy with neurofeedback, a cutting-edge technique using eeg biofeedback to improve brain function, especially for conditions like adhd.

Mar 31, 2024

The Importance of therapy in mental health treatment

In the realm of mental health and personal growth, talk therapy has long been regarded as a cornerstone of healing and self-discovery, underscoring that a therapist is essential for guiding this process. Through dialogue and introspection, individuals can explore their thoughts, emotions, and experiences, gaining insight and fostering profound transformations. Traditional methods like psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other modalities have long been the go-to for anxiety, depression, trauma, and other situations. 

Therapy traditionally deals with the past, helping us overcome lived experiences so that we can be our best self today. In recent years, coaching has emerged based on many principles of psychology but focused on the future - helping individuals go from their current baseline to become their best possible self, a goal often shared with therapy and counseling.

How to find a therapist that's right for you

Finding the right therapist for you can be a crucial step in taking care of your mental health. Whether you are looking for in-person therapy, online therapy, or couples therapy, it is important to find a licensed therapist or counselor who is a good match for your needs. You can start by researching online therapy platforms or asking for recommendations from your health center. Answering a few questions about your preferences and concerns can help you get matched with a therapist who specializes in the type of therapy you are seeking, whether it's EMDR for PTSD, marriage and family therapy, or group therapy. Make sure to inquire about the cost of therapy and whether the therapist accepts insurance to ensure you can afford the mental health care you need.

Therapist talking to client

Once you have found a licensed mental health professional, the therapist will help you set up a therapy session, whether it's online or in-person. During the therapy session, you may be provided with worksheets or counseling exercises to help you work through your mental health issues. Whether you choose online therapy or face-to-face therapy, it is important to prioritize your mental health and seek out the best online therapy or mental health services available to you. Remember that therapy may take time to see results, but having a licensed therapist by your side can make a positive impact on your mental well-being.

The role of medication in mental health

The role of medication in mental health is often a topic of great debate. While some individuals may benefit from medication to manage symptoms of mental health disorders, it is important to remember that medication is not always the answer.

Neuropsychiatric medications are notoriously difficult to bring to market, highlighting the importance of effective medication management. Since 2011, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca have announced closures of many neuroscience divisions, and other big players have followed. Psychopharmaceuticals have 50% less chance of making it to market and take 30% longer to bring to market than other drug categories (Gribkoff 2017). On top of the cost, 4 out of 5 new psychopharmaceuticals fail phase III trials due to not being better than placebo! (Kesselheim 2015)

One of the challenges with these medications is the placebo response in trials. It is not uncommon to see placebo responses of up to 75% when investigating a new anti-depressant. (Kirsch, 2014) With rates like that, it is difficult to know how well the medication works, and it's no wonder that drug companies are beginning to opt out. With such a shift happening in the pharmaceutical industry, we need new options for our mental health.

Assorted medications

Neurofeedback training: High tech meets mental health care

As our understanding of the brain continues to evolve, we're discovering that there's another powerful tool that can complement and enhance the therapeutic process: neurotherapy, including neurofeedback and neuromodulation.

Neurofeedback therapy, also known as EEG biofeedback, measures brain waves to produce a signal that can be used as feedback to teach self-regulation of brain function. This technique is commonly used to help regulate brain waves and improve conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, trauma, and insomnia. The process involves placing electrodes on the scalp to measure brain activity, which is then displayed on a computer screen in real time. Through repeated sessions, individuals learn how to control their brain waves by receiving visual or auditory feedback. By learning to manipulate their brain waves, individuals can improve their brain function and overall well-being.

Neuromodulation is similar, but instead of behavioral conditioning, it uses gentle electrical, magnetic, or light-based stimulation to guide the brain into healthier patterns.

Neurofeedback training pairs well with psychotherapy

Neurofeedback and neuromodulation operate on the principle of neuroplasticity—the brain's ability to reorganize and adapt its structure and function in response to experiences. By targeting specific brainwave patterns associated with various cognitive and emotional states, neurotherapy offers a unique opportunity to directly influence our mental and emotional well-being.

One of the key advantages of neurotherapy is its ability to address deeply ingrained patterns of thinking and behavior that may not easily yield to traditional talk therapy alone. Take, for example, the common belief of "I am not enough," rooted in childhood experiences of inadequacy or neglect. While talk therapy can certainly help individuals uncover and challenge such beliefs, neurotherapy offers a more direct route to change.

In traditional talk therapy, once an insight has been made, it must be integrated into daily life. Any time the automatic thought of "I am not enough" comes up, the individual must recognize it as an automatic thought and adjust their thinking. it can take considerable time and effort to change our baseline, automatic thinking!

Sebern Fisher's remarkable work in neurofeedback for developmental trauma provides a compelling illustration of this example. Through her research, Fisher discovered a marker in the left temporal parietal juncture associated with negative self-talk stemming from early childhood trauma (Fisher, 2014). By training this specific brain region, individuals were able to alleviate symptoms of their low self-worth without necessarily delving into the details of their past experiences. Neurofeedback was able to directly train their baseline, enhancing beta, and changed their automatic thinking without months or longer of conscious effort to retrain that pattern.

Neurofeedback and neuromodulation have the potential to "grease the wheels" and accelerate the work you do with your therapist.

Discussion with therapist

Neurofeedback as supercharger to your therapist and mental health professional

It's important to recognize that neurofeedback is not a standalone solution for many mental health conditions. While it can be powerful on it's own to help manage symptoms, many situations require the savvy of a  is not a standalone solution but rather a valuable adjunct to talk therapy. While neurotherapy can facilitate profound shifts in thinking and behavior, it may also bring to the surface unresolved emotions or memories that require further exploration and processing. In such cases, the guidance of a skilled therapist or counselor becomes essential in supporting the integration of newfound insights and experiences.

In essence, the combination of talk therapy and neurotherapy offers a holistic approach to healing and personal growth—one that honors the complexity of the human psyche and leverages the synergistic effects of mind-body interventions. By integrating these modalities, individuals can embark on a journey of deepened self-awareness, empowerment, and transformation, paving the way for lasting change and emotional well-being.

What conditions can Neurofeedback treatment help with?

Neurofeedback treatment can be beneficial for a variety of conditions related to the central nervous system. A comprehensive review on system design has shown that individuals with depression, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, brain injury, and anxiety disorders may benefit from neurofeedback. By utilizing electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor brain waves, specifically beta waves and slow cortical potentials, neurofeedback treatment can help in operant conditioning to train the nervous system. Studies have also shown the effectiveness of using a video game-based neurofeedback system for children with ADHD. Additionally, the training of the sensorimotor rhythm has been found to be effective in treating ADHD through EEG neurofeedback training.

QEEG offers an assist in medication selection

The quantitative EEG commonly used to guide neurofeedback training has also shown promise in medication selection in psychiatry by providing objective insights into brain activity patterns. The effects of all neuropsychiatric medications on the EEG are well known, and by measuring a patient's baseline state, medications can be selected that are most appropriate for their case. For example, Ritalin (methylphenidate) is known to increase a subject's peak alpha frequency. If a slowed alpha is a key part of their ADHD, this could make Ritalin an ideal choice for them compared to amphetamines.

Pros and cons of medication

The effectiveness of neurofeedback has been well documented

Neurofeedback has a rich history dating back to the 1960s, when it began in research on operant conditioning and neurophysiology. Researchers discovered that individuals could learn to regulate their brainwave patterns through real-time monitoring and feedback. The technology advanced over the years, with the development of computer-based systems and more precise measurements.

Evidence-Based Practice in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback (4th edition) © 2023 Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

Evidence-Based Practice in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback (4th edition) © 2023 Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

Neurofeedback research has shown the effectiveness of neurofeedback in treating a variety of health conditions. The International Society for Neurofeedback and Research and the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance are just a few organizations that support the use of neurofeedback in clinical applications. While some critics argue that the benefits of neurofeedback may be due to a placebo effect, “Evidence-Based Practice in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback" makes a compelling case that neurofeedback is very specific and has a large effect size for depression, anxiety, ADHD and other conditions.

Finding a neurofeedback or neuromodulation practitioner that's right for you

You may already have a wonderful relationship with your therapist and aren't looking for a replacement. The good news is, you don't have to!

In Silicon Valley it's common for savvy companies to select "best of breed" solutions when running their business, and you have the opportunity to do this with your personal growth and healing journey as well. Neurofeedack is still a very niche field, and you may not want to give up your therapist just to add a new modality to your healing process.

When choosing a neurofeedback or neuromodulation practitioner, prioritize finding someone who specializes in your specific needs, possesses relevant experience, and has a track record of success. Look for experience, expertise, and a personalized approach to treatment. Ensure you feel comfortable and confident in their abilities through consultations and inquiries. Ultimately, the right practitioner will understand your needs and deliver effective, tailored care to help you achieve your goals.

Online therapy services offer therapy sessions on demand

If you're exploring neurofeedback but haven't yet engaged with a therapist, navigating your options has never been simpler thanks to online resources. Video therapy sessions have become a mainstream approach to mental health care, ensuring that professional assistance is accessible anytime, anywhere. A talkspace therapist offers on-demand therapy services, allowing for a highly flexible approach to therapy. Nowadays, many therapists allow you to message your therapist, or connect with your therapist online via live video, making it easier than ever to integrate therapy into your neurofeedback journey.

Neurofeedback and Neuromodulation for Peak Performance

At Bay Area Peak Performance, our expertise lies in leveraging neuromodulation to enhance your capabilities to their maximum. As forward-thinking coaches, our goal is to help you uncover and overcome the ingrained thought processes that limit your potential. By combining our advanced technological methods with personalized coaching, we aim to guide you towards realizing your optimal self. For individuals who have experienced trauma, we recognize the value of professional therapy and strongly advocate for integrating such treatment when necessary.

For those who are already benefiting from the support of a skilled therapist, we offer an opportunity to amplify the progress you're making. We're eager to collaborate with your current healthcare providers to tailor a comprehensive approach that addresses your unique needs.

Ultimately, when you find yourself in a stable phase of therapy and are eager to focus on the future by enhancing mental performance, we stand ready to assist you in this next phase of your journey towards peak performance.

© 2023 - 2024 James Croall - All Rights Reserved.

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