WHAT IS NEUROFEEDBACK?
Neurofeedback is biofeedback for the brain by which the brain learns to function more efficiently. Simply put, it exercises and helps “strengthen” the brain, calms it, and improves its stability. Using computerized feedback, the brain learns to increase certain brainwaves that are helpful for improved function. The brain can decrease excessive fast or slow brainwaves that interfere with good function.
Over time, the result is a healthier and better regulated brain.
Neurofeedback, psychotherapy, and medications work hand-in-hand and can be used for patients on or off medications. There are no known lasting side effects after 30 years of research and clinical use. As the brain stabilizes, other modalities can become more effective.
NEUROFEEDBACK AT EMMAUS: Beatriz Roskopf, MSW, LISCW provides Neurofeedback to clients ages 3+, she does require a 20 week commitment with one session per week.
IS IT COVERED BY INSURANCE? As we use Neurofeedback in conjunction with psychotherapy in our sessions and it is covered under most plans. However, we recommend that you check with your insurance carrier for your benefit coverage.
“I am so grateful that our family discovered neurofeedback and Beatrice Roskopf. I encourage anyone who is on the fence about trying neurofeedback to try it. It has made an incredibly positive difference in both of our kids’ lives (treated for two different issues). We are amazed at the impact it has made!
Mrs. Roskopf is professional, effective, warm, supportive, flexible, easy to talk to, and genuinely caring. She put all of us at ease immediately and we left our first session with something useful, which was not the case at the first counselor we visited. She has been helping our family for the last year and we thank our lucky stars that we found her: she is a gifted counselor and I wholeheartedly recommend her to everyone. Thank you, Bea!”
The following is a partial list of conditions Neurofeedback has effectively treated:
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN IT HELP?
- BEHAVIOR: While medication and behavioral interventions can do a good job treating the symptoms of children with ADD or ADHD, neurofeedback retrains the brain to regain better control and focus. This method is about building up the person, focused on the qualities they possess.
- STRESS & ANXIETY: Anxiety is a common response to stress, and sufferers often feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and fatigued. Neurofeedback can help guide your brain to change how it responds to stimuli that disturb our physical or mental equilibrium.
- PEAK PERFORMANCE: Concentration, focus and emotional control are key to achieving optimal performance in all fields. Athletes and business executives are taking advantage of neurofeedback technologies to learn how to utilize the full potential of their minds to reach their peak.
The good news is that almost any brain, regardless of its level of function, can be trained to function better.
HELPING BRAIN REGULATION: The brain helps regulate sleep, emotions, thinking, behavior, and much more. The training doesn’t directly change sleep or other problems but helps the brain become better regulated. Since sleep, emotions or behavior are regulated by the brain, improvements are generally seen after training.
When you give the brain information about itself, it has an enormous capacity for change. Neurofeedback makes the information available to the brain almost instantly, and asks it to make adjustments. This gives the brain a greater ability to self-manage or regulate. Changing the EEG improves activation, inhibition, and cortical stability, while impacting regulatory mechanisms such as thalamocortical connections to sub-cortical brain structures. These functions are fundamental to brain regulation.
STATE FLEXIBILITY: We’ve all seen someone go from dejected and depressed (the other team just scored) to wild elation (your team just scored and took the lead) in seconds which is called state flexibility which is inherent in the brain. A lack of state flexibility (being stuck in a particular state) causes problems – from impulsivity, to ADD, to anger, to OCD. Neurofeedback increases state flexibility and also helps activate specific regions of the brain.
HOW DOES IT WORK? We apply electrodes to the scalp to listen in on brainwave activity. We process the signal by computer, and we extract information about certain key brainwave frequencies. (All brainwave frequencies are equal, but some are more equal than others…) We show the ebb and flow of this activity back to the person, who attempts to change the activity level. Some frequencies we wish to promote. Others we wish to diminish. Eventually the brainwave activity is “shaped” toward more desirable, more regulated performance. The frequencies we target, and the specific locations on the scalp where we listen in on the brain, are specific to the conditions we are trying to address, and specific to the individual.
IS NEUROFEEDBACK A CURE? In the case of organic brain disorders, it can only be a matter of getting the brain to function better rather than of curing the condition. When it comes to problems of disregulation, we would say that there is not a disease to be cured. Where disregulation is the problem, self-regulation may very well be the remedy. But again the word “cure” would not apply.
DO TRAINING EFFECTS LAST? If the problem being addressed is one of brain disregulation, then the answer is yes, and that covers a lot of ground. Neurofeedback involves learning by the brain and if that brings order out of disorder, the brain will continue to use its new capabilities, and thus reinforce them. Matters are different when we are dealing with degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s or the dementias, or when we are working against continuing insults to the system, as may be the case in the autism spectrum. In such cases, the training needs to be continued at some level over time. Allergic susceptibilities and food intolerances make it more difficult to hold the gains. Poor digestive function will pose a problem, as does poor nutrition. A child living in a toxic environment (in either the physical or the psychological sense) will have more difficulty retaining good function.
WHAT ABOUT MEDICATIONS? With successful neurofeedback training, the medications targeting brain function may very well no longer be needed, or they may be needed at lower dosages, as the brain takes over more of the role of regulating itself. This decrease in medications is particularly striking when the medications play a supportive role in any event, as is often the case for the more severe disorders that we are targeting with our work. As we do not provide medicinal treatment at Emmaus but rather work closely with your prescribing physician (i.e., Primary Care Provider, Naturopath, or ARNP ) any medication issues should also be addressed directly with your prescribing physician.