Biofeedback is the use of biomedical instrumentation to show an individual in real time, exactly what is going on inside them, in precise detail. This information not only provides the therapist clues to the physiological conditions underlying symptoms or performance concerns but it also provides you, the client, with tools to help you learn to control your own internal systems consciously, without medication.
These hidden streams of internal activity are usually thought to be out of the reach of voluntary control but while watching and listening to the feedback and being coached by a trained therapist, you can learn to control them easily. With practice, the skills become routine and the biofeedback is no longer needed to exercise control. This learning process provides you the flexibility to control your own biological responses, and ultimately, gives you more resourceful ways to respond to physical or emotional situations. Biofeedback is not only applicable for health concerns. The process can also be used very effectively to increase performance levels in many areas of life.
The biological activity monitored for biofeedback therapy may include things such as muscle tension levels in areas of the body or specific muscles. For example, our assessment process can determine how tense particular muscles are (even at rest) and which ones chronically store the most tension. We can determine which muscles are most reactive when a person is upset and if a person can really relax them to clinically healthy levels. It is not uncommon for people to even feel tension during sleep. These often unrecognized tension patterns are a common cause of hypertension, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and other health concerns.
Changes in peripheral skin temperature reveals information about problems in the cardiovascular system. Galvanic skin response (changes in the skin’s ability to conduct bioelectrical currents) reveals information about what’s happening in the endocrine system (changes in hormone levels or blood chemistry). Brain activity, respiration, blood pressure, heart rate variability, blood oxygenation levels, and other measurable indicators all reveal clinically useful information and therapeutic pathways.
EEG neurofeedback therapy is also called EEG neurotherapy, EEG biofeedback or brainwave biofeedback. The feedback instrument used is an electroencephalograph (EEG) which monitors brain activity. This form of biofeedback is focused directly on retraining brain function in ways very specific to the particular diagnoses or conditions being addressed. It is a comprehensive training system that promotes growth and change within the brain at cellular, functional, and neurotransmitter levels.
EEG neurofeedback therapy can help you develop increased mental stamina and flexibility. That in turn gives you more and better options when responding to tasks or situations that are part of your daily life. For example, it can enhance a student’s ability to concentrate and to study more effectively for longer periods of time. EEG neurofeedback therapy can also help to resolve test anxiety.
EEG neurofeedback therapy offers help for a long list of health problems. In cases of seizure disorders for example, EEG neurofeedback therapy can reduce or eliminate the need for medications to control seizure activity.
EEG neurofeedback is non-invasive with no significant negative side effects. It resolves problems instead of temporarily suppressing them. The patient's own internal systems develop the ability to perform well on their own, without having to depend on drugs. In some cases, patients can thrive on reduced dosages of medication and in other cases medication may be eliminated.
It is important to note that for all patients, management of medications and dosages remains entirely within the purview of the prescribing physician and the patient. When EEG neurofeedback therapy begins to take effect, the patient may begin to experience signs of over medication. It’s important to keep your physician informed so your dosage of any prescribed medication can be monitored.
Because it taps into the natural mechanisms that make a brain learn and grow and heal itself. EEG neurofeedback therapy, in some ways, is like weight-lifting. If you challenge a weak muscle to lift more weight than it is used to lifting and you repeat the exercise over and over, the muscle, in time, develops the ability to lift the heavier weight.
In the same way, EEG neurofeedback therapy challenges certain areas of the brain to perform specific kinds of brain activity more effectively. Repeat the exercise over and over, and in time, the brain develops the ability to perform those activities with less effort and for longer periods of time. The areas of the brain targeted for feedback and the specific kinds of brain activity chosen for development depend on presenting symptoms, conditions and the stated therapeutic goals of the individual client.
Gains made in therapy will transfer into day-to-day life and are usually retained. Generally, clients will find themselves more resilient and resistant to the stressful events that may come up in their lives after therapy but on occasion, events in life cause a client to feel that they are slipping into an old pattern. If so, they can come in for a short tune-up and soon be back on track.
For especially traumatic events that may occur after therapy, such as divorce, loss of employment, death in the family, or discovery of serious illness, psychotherapy and other kinds of counseling interventions that are a part of our integrative services along with biofeedback and EEG neurofeedback, can be instrumental in helping our clients to get their lives back under control.
Other post-therapy influences such as serious stroke, head injury, or other physical trauma may dramatically alter brain function and thus affect the improvements from previous therapy. Additional EEG neurofeedback therapy specifically targeting these injuries directly can be very valuable.