Are you a licensed counseling professional? And are you interested in discovering holistic and effective ways to help your clients beyond talk therapy? Have you heard of neurofeedback and the powerful results that can be achieved but thought that “brain science” was beyond your scope? Do you want to purchase a neurofeedback system but have some questions? Many therapists and other health practitioners have misconceptions about how and whether they can integrate neurofeedback into their practices. I have listed 4 of the most common below.
Common Misconceptions Therapist Have About Integrating Neurofeedback into their Practices
I have to be a neuroscientist to be able to safely and effectively use neurofeedback with my clients. I can’t afford all that training, let alone being able to purchase a neurofeedback system.
Most clinicians are not yet aware that the technology has advanced to such a degree that the “expert” is now in the neurofeedback system itself. At Whole Family Neurofeedback, we only use NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback systems for this reason. Using NeurOptimal®, we have removed the significant industry problem of human error. Here’s how.
NeurOptimal® is Dynamical Neurofeedback®, and in Dynamical (or nonlinear) neurofeedback we simply hold a mirror up to the brain, thereby giving the brain what it needs to heal itself. We do not push the brain in any direction. We do not make a diagnosis. We do not decide what frequencies the brain needs more or less of. The brain is a finely balanced system, and we like to treat it that way. With NeurOptimal®, we are tapping into processes already at work in the brain and Central Nervous System. Actually, when you think about it, the “expert” is not only in the software itself, but also in the inner workings of the client’s brain. If you’re interested in learning about the thinking behind this, click here. For a much more in-depth look, click here.
Because of the elegance of NeurOptimal’s® treat-the-brain-as-a-system philosophy and it’s advanced technology, professional grade brain training has become more accessible and more affordable, not only to our clients, but to clinicians who want to purchase a neurofeedback system and get into the field themselves. NeurOptimal® offers financing, and only 1 client a week will often take care of your monthly payments. The training is available in live, online, 2-day events. You would also have access to webinars, forums, research, client initial paperwork, marketing materials, and to support from us at Whole Family Neurofeedback.
Yes, there are financial and time requirements but perhaps less than you may have thought.
Neurofeedback is still too experimental for it to be part of mainstream psychotherapy practice. I don’t want to make unrealistic promises to my clients about effectiveness when it hasn’t been established yet.
Neurofeedback has already become part of mainstream practice. With Bessel Van der Kolk’s book, The Body Keeps the Score, more and more clinicians are referring for and integrating neurofeedback into their practices. More and more insurance companies are covering neurofeedback services. There is a clamor of criticism of neurofeedback science, but the public’s positive experience with it is shifting the tide.
I was speaking with a friend and colleague recently about why she finally decided to purchase a neurofeedback system (actually she bought three!). She had been thinking about it for a long time. She began to realize that neurofeedback was much like therapy—that neurofeedback was a process as well—a process that fit seamlessly with what she was already doing with her clients. She was holding up a mirror to her clients. The concept of holding up a mirror to their brains as well just made sense. She was also seeing the kind of success I was having with my clients—clients who had been stuck for years even—and she knew she wanted to be a part of that level of quality of care. She, like me, is dedicated to giving clients the best possible chance at success, and she realized neurofeedback could be a big part of that.
With all of our talk of “evidence based” treatment, there really aren’t any guarantees, yet we often market it that way. Therapy, more times than not, doesn’t stand up to rigorous science. But it doesn’t make what we do any less important or impactful. What we do clinically always comes down to an art form, to chemistry, to many other factors. Neurofeedback would actually bring a little greater precision into the picture.
Neurofeedback is only for certain people with certain problems.
Not only does neurofeedback help with more than just fill-in-the-blank, no diagnosis is required with NeurOptimal®. NeurOptimal® is for anyone with a brain. Our clients who struggle with a variety of problems, both physical and mental, find assistance. Because NeurOptimal® is a systems-based approach to the brain (think Bowen) diagnosis isn’t terribly useful. As Bowen taught, seeing how the family and/or the brain moves is useful. Having access to precise patterns is useful. Tapping into the family’s and/or the brain’s own inherent resources is useful. So, anyone with a brain and a family is an appropriate referral for neurofeedback. We can always improve our functioning in the relationships that are closest to us.
It’s also worth a look at Robert M. Sapolsky’s book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. In it he describes different kinds of stress and the different responses to it in different species. He describes the key role of the brain in allostatic healing. When we get the brain optimized, we see a cascade of impact mentally, emotionally, and physically. And what human can’t relate to having stress?
I’ve heard that people experience side effects with neurofeedback. I’m concerned about the process.
There are two main categories of neurofeedback: there is linear neurofeedback and non-linear. Linear neurofeedback requires an expert with extensive training and extensive experience and highly hands on treatment. It begins with the qEEG Brain Map assessment, the diagnosis, and then the prescribed protocol. Treatment then proceeds according to client feedback as to negative side effects. For example, a child may have better ability to focus but may experience heightened anxiety. An adult may feel calmer but may experience an increase in depression. When the practitioner hears about the anxiety or the depression, they will adjust the protocol.
Non-linear neurofeedback by NeurOptimal® (the only non-linear/dynamical approach that exists) has removed the problem of side-effects-based decision making. They have removed the experience of side effects. With NeurOptimal®, people may experience mildly increased depression or anxiety, but it is not because of something the practitioner is doing. It is rather part of the person’s healing process, much like they might experience going through therapy where they uncover something important to deal with that may increase anxiety for a time while they work through it. It is temporary and an important part of their process. The brain also has a process of “working through” things that can sometimes be a little bumpy. But this occurs only a small percentage of the time. Most people just feel more relaxed and rested and focused throughout their training.
If you are interested in more information in your decision-making process to purchase a neurofeedback system or consultation on how to integrate it into your practice, please don’t hesitate to reach out. It has changed my life and the lives of many of my clients.