The first step of the process will involve attending an initial assessment. The initial meeting is a comprehensive interview with your neurotherapist to help establish the way that your brain functions. It covers questions that will determine which area of the brain that is of most concern and which brainwave frequencies that we need to stimulate or discourage. In some instances, you will be able to have your first neurofeedback training session on the same day immediately after the initial interview. Your neurofeedback coach will provide you with information about what to expect following your first session. The feedback you provide will determine your training protocol for subsequent sessions.
Like building a muscle or learning a new skill,
strengthening new neural-pathways requires
feedback and practice.
The sessions are quite relaxing and pleasant. As you sit comfortable in a chair, your neurofeedback coach will place sensors on your scalp. The sensors do nothing to your brain. They are completely non-invasive – used simply to pick up your brainwaves. It is similar to the way a doctor places a stethoscope on a patient’s chest to detect a heartbeat.
Brainwave activity is monitored by means of an amplifier and a computer that processes the signal and provides the relevant feedback.
This is displayed by means of a video game or display along with audio signals. The brain recognizes the audio sounds and the imagery of the game as a reward, and seeks to create more of the optimal pattern. For example, the more you use the correct brainwaves (relaxed, calm, focused), the faster the video game moves, and vice versa.
Each session involves 30 minutes of training plus 15 minutes of set up and minutes of training discussion.
Because it is being rewarded, the brain will repeatedly attempt to reach its target goal. Eventually these movements become automatic for the brain. It doesn’t need to try anymore. With practice it maintains and strengthens these changes.
This form of learning is called operant conditioning, a form of learning in which an individual modifies behaviour according to the consequences of that behaviour.
Let’s talk side effects
Neurofeedback is a gentle, non-invasive training technique. Unlike medication, nothing is put into the body or brain. There are typically no side effects provided it is administered by a well-trained professional.
Occasionally following a session an individual may feel a little hyper or a little cloudy, indicating that the training setting was a bit too high or low. An adjustment is easily made in the next session. It is essential that the client reports as accurately as possible any changes or reactions that occur between sessions as this input helps guide training sessions.
About the benefits
Given that the brain oversees every system in the body including emotional and psychological well-being, training it to self-regulate has many desirable paybacks. Many clients come to see us to get help with specific symptoms and find that they unexpectedly improve on a wide spectrum of issues.
Most report a feeling of calm; of being more comfortable in their own skin; feeling more like themselves – alert and relaxed, alive and quiet at the same time. Problems seem smaller and negative feelings tend not to linger as they did before. Clients have commented that neurofeedback has offered them the freedom to choose their reactions rather than be over-run by them. This doesn’t mean that life’s difficulties disappear; it just means you can cope with them in a better way.
Neurofeedback has multiple benefits can help to
- Increase general well-being.
- Optimise work and sport performance.
- Boost optimism, happiness, and self-confidence.
- Promote quicker, deeper and better quality sleep and relaxation.
- Improve creativity and processing speed.
- Increase attention, focus, organisation and concentration.
- Accelerate learning, memory, problem solving and decision making.
- Enhance resilience, coping mechanisms and immunity to stress.
- Promote assertiveness and control of emotions.
- Encourage flexibility and faster recovery from stress.
- Increase cognitive sharpness
- Reduce number of errors and shorten response time.
- Enhance productivity and efficiency.
- Promote mind/body integration.
- Reduce nerves, anxiety, stage fright and performance anxiety.
- Better self-control and diffusion of anger.
- Increase self-awareness and emotional intelligence.