The idea behind neurofeedback is that we’re training our brain and the entire nervous system to function better. It’s a method by which we can measure the brain’s electrical activity and show it to you on a screen in real-time. This effectively creates a consciousness feedback loop, or a consciousness mirror, because you can witness the effect your thoughts have upon your brain’s activities.
Neuroscience says we can consciously rewire our brain by training ourselves to develop new neural pathways. Our thoughts can reinforce existing neural circuitry in our brains and even create new circuits. Neurofeedback is one of many ways listed in the Ultimate Healing Guide to help us do that. Regardless of the brain science behind the research, we do have proof that our thoughts can change the physical structure of the brain.
There’s no longer any dispute about it: the unseen nature of our consciousness has an effect upon physical reality within ourselves. Knowing this, we can take advantage of fairly simple methods to consciously rewire ourselves to eliminate unwanted conditions and behaviors.
Whether neurofeedback can do that for you has as much to do with your level of belief in the technology as anything.
- EEGInfo: What Is Neurofeedback? Unlock Your Brain’s Potential
- Brain Health Northwest: What Is Neurofeedback?
- Brainline.Org: What is Biofeedback and Neurofeedback?
- FREE clinical EEG Neurofeedback for Combat Veterans!
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
- Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Developmental Trauma
- Experts at Military Conference Declare Neurofeedback as Breakthrough PTSD Treatment
- EEGInfo: Get Educated and Become a Neurofeedback Provider
- Board-Certified BCIA-Accredited Neurofeedback Certification Online Courses
- Thought Genius – Meditation Assessment, Brain Mapping & Brain Training Programs
- Neurofeedback Brain Machine Improves Musicianship
- BrainWorks Neurotherapy: Train Your Mind
- BrainCore Neurofeedback: Tap Into the Power of Your Brain – Regain Your Health & Wellbeing!
- A Trauma Center Pilot Study of Neurofeedback for Chronic PTSD, co-authored by Bessel Van Der Kolk
- Neurofeedback for PTSD in Children
- The International Society for Neurofeeback and Research
- The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Inc. (AAPB)
- he Western Association for Biofeedback and Neuroscience
- Biofeedback Certification International Alliance
Neurofeedback as a stress-awareness aid
“Emotional stress is a major contributing factor to the six leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, coronary heart disease, accidental injuries, respiratory disorders, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States estimates that stress accounts for about 75% of all doctor visits.” National Institutes of Health
“Lack of awareness of stress levels could contribute to difficulties in emotion regulation.” omicsonline.org
So what are some ways we can reduce our stress? Increasing self-awareness is going to be your best place to start.
The Ultimate Healing Guide gives us many tools which can help us deal with stress. Neurofeedback might just be one of them. Training ourselves how to wind down the mind is a good survival skill to have. Another good one to have is knowing how to keep a level head in stressful situations.
There’s some evidence Neurotherapy is one way to help us learn how to override our stress system and take it offline. There’s no sure way to know whether this will work for you unless you talk to someone who can administer the therapy and get a feel for whether it appeals or not. If a therapy doesn’t seem to appeal to you, then keep searching until you find something which does.
Neurofeedback still draws skepticism
Neurofeedback purports to help teach you how to more easily regulate your stress, migraines, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Recipients of the therapy claim better sleep, improved concentration, less anxiety, relief from depression, and the easing of migraine headaches.
Do these claims mean it will work to ease your suffering? You won’t know until you try, and it will likely require a commitment of 10-20 sessions as a minimum.
However, you’ll want to read this before paying $100s for neurofeedback therapy:
“Neurofeedback therapy has promise, but it’s no shortcut to enlightenment.”
Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback
Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback, and in both cases, we’re using sensors to measure our body in some way. We’re all familiar with devices which can check our pulse, respiration, temperature, blood oxygen, and sugar levels, as well as other signs of our aliveness using different kinds of sensors. When we use sensors on our scalp to read the electrical activity of the brain, we are reading brainwave patterns.
All neurofeedback practitioners are trained in biofeedback, but not all biofeedback clinicians are trained in neurofeedback.
Read our Biofeedback article for more resources.
So neurofeedback is just a fancy word to mean biofeedback from the brain’s electrical activity, which is created by neurons communicating with each other. It is an opportunity for our brain to see its own real-time activity reflected back to it on a moment-to-moment basis.
Our intellectual abilities and emotional resources can be considerably enhanced with neurofeedback training(1). After a few sessions, there’s no need for sensors or monitors; your mind trains your biological system to learn the skills.(2)
The cost for professional Neurofeedback
Similar to other forms of therapy, you could spend upwards of $100 or more for a professional clinical neurofeedback session. Whether you’re looking for float therapy, massage therapy, or neurofeedback therapy, you should expect to spend somewhere in the range of $1000-2000 out-of-pocket when you finally get serious about making lasting changes. Folks who are suffering will do almost anything to get out of it; fortunate for us, there are 101+ self-care methods we can try before giving up.
Alternatives to Neurofeedback Therapy
Obviously, other forms of biofeedback are available which may be even more reliable and certainly more accessible. We can now use wireless sensors with our smartphones to practice biofeedback at home.
The HeartMath Institute’s method of heart rate variability is an alternative form of brain-training biofeedback. The HeartMath organization a sells simple and affordable Bluetooth sensor device called Inner Balance which works with Android and iOS and can give you many similar benefits to neurofeedback.
The Muse brain-sensing headband is the most affordable home-device for neurofeedback-based meditation or brain-training, and it works wirelessly together with a mobile app for your phone.
The consciousness influence upon the brain
If we can view our own brainwave patterns on a TV monitor or in virtual reality goggles, then we can imagine seeing the waves speed up or slow down. In doing so, we can theoretically change brain states faster than a master yogi with decades of meditation practice.
Achieving brainwave frequencies associated with relaxation and peacefulness helps to quiet our mind. If we can maintain tranquility, by whatever means, we can achieve stress-healing benefits when in a calm state of mind.
“We can unlearn our pain. We can teach our nervous system to forget chronic pain.”
Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk
This is literal mind-over-matter kind of stuff; our consciousness can influence our brain. However, the efficacy of neurofeedback is still hit or miss.
Neurofeedback compared to other modern therapies
In psychology, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are essentially helping us to achieve personal awareness that we can change our minds, leverage our free will, and use the power of our consciousness to improve our mind-body relationship.
With CBT, the idea is to persistently persuade you to change your perspective just a little bit, to take just a little different view of your situation. The goal is to slowly change your thought patterns on purpose, so as to start thinking less of how much a victim you are and more how you can make tiny little changes here and there to start taking back some control. You gain self-esteem in the process of watching your own improvement as the months go by.
ACT is a little more aggressive about getting us to come to terms with our situation so that we can just stop beating ourselves up over it. If you are continuously cruel to yourself in your own mind, then how do you expect to manage your reactions to other people when things don’t go your way?
Both CBT and ACT are about changing your thoughts. Neurofeedback quite literally creates an awareness feedback loop so that you can immediately see how what you’re thinking and feeling influences the activity of the brain. And that’s just cool, 21st-century mind-body science.
How Neurofeedback provides Hope
Self-awareness happens to be the first step on The Self-Healing Path. Anything which promotes self-awareness is considered to be beneficial. This can be done through simple introspection and without spending a dime, but sometimes we need assistance. Neurofeedback technology encourages the awareness of, and differentiation between, the self and the bodymind.
Neurofeedback plays strong role for Mental Health
According to Dr. Van Der Kolk, Neurofeedback promises to play a growing powerful role for mental health in the next ten years (3). We can teach the nervous system to forget chronic pain, and we can expand our consciousness (4). And we can unlearn our pain (5). Modern neuro-therapy technology only feeds back the real-time information to the brain about its electrical activity.
During any neurofeedback session, you can see the influence of your thoughts upon your brain right while you sit there and watch. No injections, no needles, and no holes drilled in your head are required for the procedure.
“The results of the initial work with PTSD were staggering: extensive remediation of suicidal thoughts, migraines, rage, flashbacks, sleep disorders, depression, and tinnitus.”
Learning to enhance self-awareness and self-regulation
A minor study of the effects of neurofeedback training was conducted over a period of one year with a group of five Olympic athletes in 2012. The subjective results were captured as structured interviews with the athletes after 20 clinical feedback sessions. “The athletes indicated that they became more self-aware, were better able to self-regulate both their physiological and psychological states, and developed a greater sense of personal control.” ResearchGate.net
There’s no way to scientifically corroborate whether people become more self-aware as a result of neurofeedback or any other therapy, mainly because there’s no way to measure self-awareness. Like many of the modalities listed in the Ultimate Healing Guide, the attitude you have towards therapy plays a significant role in its effectiveness.
Therefore, neurofeedback may provide no benefits at all if you don’t believe it will help. The fact is, you can learn to enhance your self-awareness through any of the modalities listed here if you can find a method that works for you.
Neurofeedback is Breakthrough PTSD Treatment (2011)
“Neurofeedback treatment should be an essential part of our military’s mental health regiment before, during, and after deployment. Our studies show that neurofeedback in early stages of deployment can actually forestall a descent into PTSD, as well as providing dramatic results for both active duty soldiers and veterans suffering from this debilitating condition.” Dr. Siegfried Orhmer, Board Chair for Homecoming for Veterans
- What Is Neurofeedback?
- Biofeedback Trains Mind, Body to Make Changes
- Dr. Bessel van der Kolk – Effective Methods for Treating Trauma
- Teaching the Nervous System to Forget Chronic Pain
- Unlearn Pain: A 28-Day Program