What is Neurofeedback Therapy?
One way to answer that question is that neurofeedback training is meditation for the automatic functioning brain! The NeurOptimal® device alerts the brain in the millisecond that it is about to change states, triggering the brain to come into the present and see what it’s doing. Like in meditation when we wake up from the daydream and realize where we are and what we are doing intentionally (meditating) and habitually (daydreaming), so too, the brain “wakes up” and sees its habitual functions.
NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback uses EEG sensors to track millisecond-by-millisecond changes in voltage on the head. The software takes 256 data points per second looking for the mathematics of state change. When it detects the brain is changing it interrupts music that the client is listening to. That interruption serves as a “meditation gong” but for the automatic functioning brain, cuing it to notice what function it is performing. Like presenting a mirror, the brain will “see” its own functioning and automatically correct habits that are inefficient.
Is Neurofeedback Safe?
NeurOptimal® is purely feedback. Nothing is added to your system. Precisely timed feedback to alert the brain to pay attention to itself. It is 100% safe and non-invasive. We train children and adults.
Fortunately children doing neurofeedback therapy have an advantage over us adults. Why? Because they have billions of unassigned neurons so they can adapt quickly to new information. As well, their habitual inner narrative about themselves and the world is not well formed as in adults so their thoughts will more quickly adapt to the changes in their felt experience. For example, if they have anxiety and have worrying thoughts, when the brain calms down, their worrying thoughts will shift to match their felt experience. The anxious brain producing a stress response and the thoughts “I’m afraid of the dark” becomes a calm and regulated brain and the thoughts shift to “The dark is a little scary but I have my Teddy to keep me safe.”
Why Neurofeedback is Effective?
We can argue that many of our mental health issues: anxiety, depression, the stress-response, is, in part, the result of the brain doing the wrong thing in the present moment. Dr. Besel van der Kolk, leading expert in PTSD/complex trauma, gives a detailed description in his book, The Body Keeps The Score, of how the brain becomes habituated to a stress response. He describes how neurofeedback, as part of a larger treatment plan for PTSD, can greatly benefit clients’ anxiety and depression symptoms.
With NeurOptimal® neurofeedback over time, symptoms start to fade. The goal is that the brain learns to use the present moment to decide what to do next, not habitual patterns. Why is that significant? The stress response, which we experience as anxiety, worrying, feeling hopeless and depressed, is a habitual pattern. It is the brain just taking a couple of cues from the present environment and deciding it “knows” now is like the past and just repeats the same habitual response. As the brain trains with NeurOptimal it is learning that all the good information is in the present moment. Over time, it changes behavior from doing what’s habitual to tuning in to the here-and-now. When the brain has learned to do this regularly is when we see symptom relief.
Clients shift from being anxious, depressed, fixating on worries, unable to focus and having poor sleep, to being able to access calm, focus, hope, and clarity.
At our NYC office clients can use neurofeedback as a stand-alone training or in conjunction with contemplative psychotherapy, and/or mindfulness meditation. All our therapists are also certified NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback Trainers. Learn more.
Our Habituated Brain: Where Eastern and Western Views Meet
The Buddhist teachings describe how our suffering as humans comes about, in part, due to our habitual patterns. When our actions are reinforced over and over again it increases the tendency that we will react similarly, and automatically, next time. We all know if we let the irritation, for example from an annoying driver cutting us of, “get to us” that it’s more likely to arise again and create a pattern of behavior. This is how we created “negative karma.”
As the field of research into the workings of the brain grows, we have come to understand that the brain becomes habituated to its response patterns. A simple example to illustrate the point is when, as a child, we are bit by a dog, our brain perceives that dog as a threat and the part of our brain in charge of responding to danger with the “fight/flight/freeze” response goes into action. We either freeze or run away, as our instinctual response to a threat. Years later we see a dog that is similar and our body goes into the same fight/flight response. And the response is automatic.
Neurofeedback Reviews – From our NY Clients
Jim, after 6 sessions:
“The effects lie beyond conscious control, yet within the field of perceptible awareness. I walk out synchronized and in step, every time. I look forward to my sessions because I know I’m going to have a good night’s sleep when I get home. This type of brain training is a must for any healer or meditator to try.”
Teri, Zen practitioner and trauma survivor:
“It’s so interesting to watch the contrast between my body now, which is calm and clear, and what my mind still wants to do. It’s wanting to create stories about how I’m not safe, how the world is out to get me. But when I notice my body it’s still. I’m seeing so clearly how my story is just old and my body is finally in the present.”
Price per neurofeedback sessions range from $125 and up. We also provide discounted neurofeedback sessions on Saturdays. Contact us here.
As a more cost-effective alternative, the neurofeedback device can also be rented for home use. Go to our other website, specifically for neurofeedback training to learn more about the cost of our rental packages and how it works.