What is it like to get neurofeedback?
Well, it’s certainly not as dramatic as the picture at the left! Actuallly, it tends to be a much calmer process. Neurofeedback can be done in a “regular” office–it does not require a medical setting or an electronics lab.
The Initial Evaluation
Neurotherapy begins with an initial evaluation. A large amount of information is gathered by the therapist through an interview and written forms.
Sometimes a TOVA (Test of Variables of Attention) is administered to get a sense of how smoothly the brain is functioning, and as a benchmark to measure future results objectively. Though the name includes the word attention, the TOVA is useful for most neurofeedback clients. It is a 22-minute computerized test in which a client presses a handheld button every time a certain shape shows on the computer screen. It results with a variety of scores indicating not only focus and attention, but the brain’s overall level of arousal and stability.
During the initial evaluation questions about neurotherapy are discussed, and an initial treatment plan is developed. A sample neurotherapy session may be conducted so that the client can experience it and, in some cases, the immediate positive effects it can have.
A “regular” session
A typical neurotherapy session will begin with a discussion of the effects of the last session’s brainwave training and a decision about how to continue. The therapist will then attach electrodes to specific places on the client’s scalp, depending on the intent of the day’s session. A special paste is used that is designed for this purpose. A very small amount of paste is used, and this is easily removed from ones hair at the end of the session.
The actual brainwave training lasts about 30 minutes for most sessions. This appears to be the amount of time the brain can train before becoming tired, making training less effective. The client watches the feedback on a computer screen and can see how well she or he is doing. The brain pretty much does the learning without conscious effort on the part of the client except to pay attention. After the session, the client is able to return to the day’s activities without further interruption.
Sessions need to be held at least twice weekly so that the effects carry over from session to session. In cases where someone has traveled from out of town for neurofeedback sessions can be effective as frequently as two times per day without wasting time or money.
Developing the ability to provide good information about yourself
Many people are not practiced at describing their mental and physical state to others. In neurofeedback it is important to be able to do so. The basic paradigm of neurofeedback involves gathering as much information about one’s functioning as possible.
Much of the information comes from the EEG electrodes placed on the scalp. But, much information also comes from the client. In neurofeedback you will want to become practiced at reporting information about yourself…your mood, how smoothly your thought processes are going, your sleep patterns, or how calm you feel, etc. This will help you to get help faster and more effectively. Your neurotherapist can help you with this.
Letting go of effort
One of the interesting aspects of neurofeedback is letting go of “trying” to learn. For most aspects of neurofeedback the brain is quite able to learn without significant effort on the part of the person being trained.