Neurofeedback Technology WORKS!
You might be wondering how neurofeedback has a natural connection to supporting attachment. I know I did when I was first searching for help with my attachment challenged children. As an Attachment Specialist and the Director of The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships, I am pleased and overjoyed to report the success neurofeedback is having with softening the wounded, protected hearts of attachment challenged children, especially toward their parents. No kidding.
One of the major issues facing attachment challenged children and their families is the almost impossible to repair emotion regulation disturbance within and between family members. Neurofeedback can collapse the resistance to emotional engagement, increase the acceptance of "no", and further the embrace of rules and even reciprocal affection. Neurofeedback changes relationships every day, even when there may be little motivation to change at the start.
Neurotherapy has demonstrated significant efficacy for ADD and ADHD in multiple well-designed, independent studies. Since improvements in ADD and ADHD can be easily quantified, it makes this issue very well suited to neurotherapy research.
By contrast, there is a profound lack of research on what ADD and ADHD are, and no one knows if they are genetic issues, psychological, or both. Also, how the drugs work that are most frequently prescribed for ADD/ADHD is not specifically known, but they are thought to affect two important neurochemicals — dopamine and norepinephrine. To date, there are still no lab tests for the brain’s neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin apart from the highly invasive spinal tap. This procedure is never performed prior to drug treatment.
There are those who believe ADD is linked to diet, including food allergies and nutritional deficiencies. In addition, they don’t want to subject their children to the side effects of methylphenidate (Ritalin) They attempt to improve their child’s attention by modifying their diet. These parents frequently discover that it is quite challenging to control their child’s intake of sugar and artificial ingredients outside the home.
Whatever the cause, ADD typically goes hand in hand with an under aroused brain. This is the reason why stimulants such as Ritalin, Strattera and Concerta are prescribed. Some studies indicate that children ingesting methylphenidate are more likely to abuse drugs later in life. Nadine Lamber, a professor of education at the University of California Berkeley, followed five hundred children for 26 years and states that the use of these ADD drugs doubles the chances that the child will grow into an adult who abuses drugs such cocaine.
Something else to consider is that many times behavior problems are caused by seizure activity, not great enough to cause a petit mal (staring spell) or epilepsy, but significant enough to cause tantrums, mood swings, physical violence and other behavior issues. Typically these children have problems with focus as well, but it is not because their brain is under aroused, therefore, methylphenidate will not address the problem, but neurotherapy will.
With an individualized assessment, a proper neurotherapy protocol can be selected that often address issues such as an under aroused brain or one that is unstable due to seizure activity. Neurotherapy typically increases the stability of the brain, as well as, its flexibility to move between mental states. See “Tantrums” for more information on behavioral issues.
1 The most common type is what we call reactionary anxiety. This type can not be traced back to birth. Its roots can be traced to dysfunctional family dynamics, abusive relationships, or extremely scary event(s). This type of anxiety is quite predictable. For instance, whenever certain events are discussed, or the person is reminded of something scary, anxiety is triggered. Phobias also fall into this category. BrainPaint’s alpha theta protocols usually addresses this type anxiety quickly and effectively. See The BrainPaint Difference
2 Another common type of anxiety is called generalized anxiety. Here, one’s brain is overly activated like they drank a gallon of coffee. It is our observation that most people who have this type of anxiety were born with it, yet it becomes more pronounced with the onset of hormonal changes during puberty. It also may manifest with the increased pressures of the work place or beginning a family. If this type of anxiety appears intensely before the age of 5, the child’s mind can not handle the reality of feeling so out-of-control. Their mind fabricates worries as the cause for this overwhelming emotion. It often increases and decreases without cause. When it’s at its worst lost keys will be experienced as dangerous. While at other times missing keys would just be distressing. A person with this type of anxiety usually has parents or grandparents who also suffered from it. They usually dislike caffeine or activities with a quite a bit of stimulation because their brains are already over stimulated. SMR neurotherapy training can slow their brains down this over activation which makes everyday stress much easier to manage.
3 A third type of anxiety stems from one’s brain being too slowed down. We are not referring to being slowed down intellectually. These people often take on excessive responsibilities, risky behaviors, or chronic worrying as a way to artificially elevate their arousal levels. They’re often considered adrenalin junkies. When things slow down, they literally fall asleep. Beta biofeedback is always a significant part of their neurotherapy training. This teaches their brains to speed up which has the opposite effect on them. Neurotherapy can be quite calming.
People with Autism & Aspergers appear to be extremely over aroused which is related to their sensory overload, hyper focus, and difficulty processing the subtleties of relationships. In the most severe cases they are forced to retreat into a trance-like world because their system is overloaded by sounds, movements, and even physical touch.
These issues seem to respond best to neurotherapy that exercises slower frequencies. This can teach them to slow down their excessive processing speed so that they don’t feel so overwhelmed by the world. One of the first things to improve can be observed in their social interactions, including initiating conversations and their ability to better communicate their needs and desires. Teenagers may begin exhibiting more teen-like opposition, which could be mistaken as a negative side effect. This population also commonly experiences a significant improvement from neurotherapy in their attention and reasoning skills.
Brain Injuries usually respond very well to neurotherapy. Immediately after an injury when one’s brain tries to perform a task and nothing happens it stops trying. It’s sort of like when a flea jumps and hits the lid of a jar it will never jump higher than the lid again.
The brain is a very powerful tool that works really well until something unexpected happens to it. After a brain injury, the organ’s process of repair is similar to that of a bad electrician who starts crossing random wires and unplugging circuits until a light comes back on. As a result, the brain may begin working extremely hard to even accomplish some simple tasks. This pattern of overworking gets wired in even after the healing that happens over the first 18 months. It won’t attempt to send signals down pathways once it has tried and failed. Neurotherapy appears to retrain the brain to once again begin sending signals to those original areas.
A wonderful example of this regeneration happened in our clinic with a man who had suffered a head injury 6 years prior to him starting BrainPaint neurotherapy. He couldn’t swallow, was tube fed, and couldn’t walk or talk. Within 3 sessions, his ability to swallow came back and they could remove the tube from his stomach. After 12 sessions, he began walking unassisted and could talk again.
Bill Scott, co-founder & CEO of BrainPaint, who has been in the field of neurofeedback therapy for 19 years has observed that people with major depressive episodes so severe that they were hospitalized multiple times may develop PTSD from the depression. When these individuals experience a reminder related to the previous depressive events, their brain goes back into those old states and patterns. These are just flashbacks. This is why when they start feeling that darkness coming on, it quickly intensifies. For this population, after training their brain to increase its activation with beta for mood elevation, we follow up with alpha theta, a specific type of neurotherapy training, to address the trauma and to prevent these flashbacks. See the PTSD segment for more details.
One of the most disturbing symptoms of PTSD is a very numb feeling of unreality. Most individuals who suffer with this symptom are convinced that they have forever lost their minds. They have no idea that this symptom is so common among those who suffer with PTSD. This issue of unreality is one of the first issues to resolve with neurotherapy.
Neurotherapy, specifically alpha-theta protocol, is a training process that has been scientifically-proven to improve all the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as, issues that people develop as the result of dysfunctional family systems, grief or trauma. Bill Scott, the creator of BrainPaint, is considered a world-renowned expert on alpha-theta, and BrainPaint is the only automated neurofeedback system that replicates the implementation of the exact protocol used for PTSD proven in research.
Insomnia is one of the easiest issues to improve with neurotherapy. Many times people who have trouble falling asleep report dramatic improvements with their insomnia in just a few sessions. Some people can fall asleep easily, but then wake in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep. In these cases, neurotherapy may also be very helpful in just a few sessions.
may take as many as 40 -50 sessions to improve a person’s sleep patterns. As always, after attaining your objectives it is important to do 8-10 additional neurotherapy sessions to solidify the developmental gains.
Insomnia is not the only common sleep disorder, and neurotherapy can also help with other issues related to insomnia. For example, many people are plagued by regular nightmares or night terrors. This can be the byproduct of an under aroused brain, and typically can be easily resolved in just a few sessions. We will also mention here, because that strange itching, tingling or crawling sensation in the legs is very common in people who have insomnia or other sleep disturbances. Restless Leg Syndrome is more common in brains that run slow or are under aroused and can be helped with neurotherapy.
Here is a list of issues related to insomnia or associated with sleep that neurotherapy can help:
Do you know anyone who takes naps, falls asleep during meetings, wakes feeling negative most mornings, suffers from nightmares, has trouble following movie plots or gets teary-eyed more than the average person? This is what we call an under-aroused brain. There are a few locations on one’s scalp we can provide beta feedback during a neurotherapy session to train one’s brain to wake up, be full of energy and vitality.
Sometimes people are exhausted when they are naturally energetic – their brains already produce enough beta. In these cases, their brain needs to learn how to take breaks. This person essentially burns themselves out with too much cognitive energy, which is sometimes referred to as nervous energy.
BrainPaint’s assessment tool can tease out the possible causes for fatigue, and train ones brain accordingly.
Intimate relationships tend to stir our most basic survival mechanisms. When we fear loosing what we have or not getting what we want, we have a tendency to regress into childlike states of relating. These patterns are defense mechanisms for subconscious fears and distorted beliefs about who we are and how others are being.
When we are in these reactive states our frontal lobe shuts down – this is the part associated with emotions, reasoning, problem solving and parts of speech. When this happens we react in extremely predictable patterns, and there is no chance for constructive communication or harmonious resolutions. All we are wired for is survival and control, which only intensifies the initial problem.
There are two brainwaves related to this idle state, alpha and theta waves, and fortunately there is a way to train them to stay engaged and conscious:
1 Individual sessions of alpha theta training usually improves the self-regulation of these emotional states. The goal here is for each person in the relationship to become more stable and grounded so that their partner’s unpleasant states are not as contagious. When individuals can remain more objective during a squabble, their buttons won’t be as easily pushed thwarting an escalation of the dispute.
2 Couples synchrony training, a specific neurotherapy protocol, allows two people to be hooked up together to synchronize their alpha and theta brainwaves. The goal here is to help the couple find similar states with which to connect. The synchronized couple seem to be literally on the same wavelength with improved intuition, understanding and empathy.
Ideally, each individual would have private sessions, and then the couple would do synchrony sessions together.
After neurotherapy, long term patterns of abandonment, jealousy, controlling behaviors, communication problems, resentments and anger tend to spontaneously diminish.
Severe tantrums are one of the most rewarding issues to help with neurotherapy. When children with this issue improve, it improves the lives of so many people involved with the child. The most common cause of tantrums is right hemispheric issues either from a birth trauma or concussion. It is as if the child’s brain has an electrical storm over the part of their brains that regulates insight, awareness of others, and their ability to quiet themselves. There’s usually a life changing improvement with the issue of tantrums within 8 sessions, although the child will not be finished with neurotherapy after the 8 sessions.
There is another reason to consider neurotherapy for a child who has tantrums. If the issue is not resolved prior to puberty, the issue usually doubles in severity. They already have seizure-like activity in their brains, and now the hormonal changes usually further destabilize them. A man by the name of Douglas Quirk identified this seizure activity in a large population of violent offenders in a prison study, although the prisoners also came from abusive family systems. It is important to note that right hemispheric seizure activity is not a direct cause of violence, but rather this is a common denominator among those who self-harm or gravitate towards violence.
If the child receives neurofeedback therapy prior to age 12 or 13 they tend to respond more quickly. There is no minimum age to receive neurotherapy. The youngest child seen here at Neurofeedback Solutions was 20 months old.
Fibromyalgia seems to be most related to a sleep disorder. Sleep research has identified that those with this issue are not accessing the deep restorative levels of sleep. People who have not slept enough for a few days will actually meet the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia. We’ve noticed that the vast majority of people with this issue have PTSD and usually respond best to BrainPaint neurotherapy, specifically our alpha theta training.
Pain can be a side effect of serious medical problems such as arthritis, an injury or cancer. However, it also exists independently of other medical conditions. Prescription drugs (e.g. Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet) can be very effective, however, over time they may become addictive and may be contraindicated for individuals who suffer from addictions.
Recent research on the anterior cingulate cortices, one of the areas responsible for perceiving and controlling pain, is revealing that brain activity can reduce pain sensation by up to 64%. It is believed that people can “reshape” the circuits responsible for pain. Neurotherapy can assist with this reshaping process.