The 411 on Neurotherapy
Although Neurotherapy has been around since the 70s, it is just now blossoming. It’s currently considered an evidenced-based therapy for things like substance abuse, PTSD, ADHD, traumatic brain injury and epilepsy, but this list barely makes a dent in the mental and physical health issues that neurotherapy has been shown to improve. Clients often turn towards neurotherapy when they have tried many other treatments for issues including depression, anxiety, struggles with relationships and stability, substance abuse, trauma and PTSD, and failed to find a solution.
Overall, neurotherapy is able to address behavioral and cognitive functions where other treatments have been unable to achieve results. Both testing and treatment are safe, painless and non-invasive but can result in significant, long-lasting improvement, allowing clients to live a more grounded, stable, peaceful and joyful life.
What is Neurotherapy
Neurotherapy, like many types of therapy – mental or physical, is much more complex than its definition. At its core, it is not a medical procedure, it is a learning process; the brain learns to organize itself more efficiently, decreasing certain disorders or dysfunctions.
Neurotherapy begins with a diagnostic procedure called a qEEG, or a quantitative electroencephalogram, which detects electrical activity in your brain. This is a non-invasive, non surgical and non-injurious procedure – it simply involves electrodes and a computer. In addition to the EEG, the client is asked to fill out questionnaires about their symptoms and their health, both physical and mental. The neurotherapist will review these results, minute-by-minute, looking for abnormalities that could explain the client’s symptomatology, as well as send them out to a neurologist to ensure that there are no medical indications that need to be addressed.
If the neurologist gives the all-clear, the next step is brain-mapping, which is what makes the EEG quantitative. Computer software is used to look at the frequency of waves in 19 different locations of the brain. With this information and an understanding of the “norm,” or standard distribution, they are able to again identify places where abnormalities match up with the symptoms a client is having.
The next step is a treatment called neurofeedback. Following evidence-based protocol, sensors are placed on the scalp in areas where dysfunction was seen on the qEEG. These sensors are connected to a computer and an amplifier, which analyzes the brain waves against healthy standards, and clients are given audio and visual feedback. Many prefer to watch a movie. When the brain waves deviate from healthy parameters, the feedback stops until the brain waves return to the optimal range. Because of our brain’s neuroplasticity—the ability to remap and reorganize on a biological level, consistent repetition of this feedback over time trains the brain to create new neural pathways, or dendrites. A patient may sit for an hour per session, and come back many times. The process will continue to work until the brian improves, and in turn, the symptoms improve.
After around 20 sessions, the therapists will often perform another qEEG to reassess the brain waves, as well as another questionnaire and other types of testing, to ensure that this process is doing its job. Much like exercising a muscle, it can take some time for neurofeedback to begin to work. It may be 10-15 sessions before the therapist and client notice improvement, but once it happens, it can be life-changing.
Who Can Benefit from Neurotherapy?
Here are a few different examples of cases where neurotherapy can be extremely beneficial.
One common dysfunction found with neurotherapy clients shows up within the first five minutes of the EEG. During the test, clients are asked to close their eyes for 10 minutes, and then open them for 10 minutes. If brain waves show that the client enters stage 2 sleep very quickly, the neurotherapists knows that there is some kind of sleep issue occurring, such as sleep apnea. Sleep issues can contribute to symptoms like difficulty with executive function, attention deficits, hypervigilance, overarousal and more.
Another example is a child who is having trouble paying attention in school. It may be assumed that the child has a learning disability or ADHD, but with a look at the qEEG results and brain mapping, a neurotherapists can tell if there is, perhaps, a traumatic head injury from a young age in the temporal lobe that caused cell death and injury, eventually resulting in a slowing of auditory processing. The parents may have had no idea that this injury was significant enough to cause lasting damage. With neurofeedback sessions, the therapist is able to open up the capillaries that are not getting the blood, oxygen and nutrients they need, allowing for new functionality in this area. They are also able to calm the secondary social and performance anxiety created.
Others who may benefit from neurotherapy are those who are frequently hyper-aroused or have difficulty sleeping. These individuals are often high-functioning, such as CEOs or athletes, and they have developed coping mechanisms to mask the symptoms. For instance, they may rarely down, lest they fall asleep.
Moreover, neurotherapy may be advantageous to individuals who struggle with relationships and stability, anxiety and depression, trauma and PTSD, substance abuse, traumatic brain injury, medication-weaning, attention and executive functioning issues, learning disabilities, autism, tourettes and other tic disorders, insomnia, fibromyalgia, post-chemotherapy fog and much more. Neurotherapy frequently draws people who prefer a natural, holistic approach to medicine.
Ethos Behavioral Health Group now offers neurotherapy through Licensed Professional Counselor Laura Childers who is Board Certified in Neurofeedback and a Diplomat in qEEG technologies. If you or a loved one has been to multiple medical and mental health professionals to address cognitive or behavioral issues with no results, or if you’re simply interested to find out if your symptoms may be remedied through the holistic approach of neurofeedback, please don’t hesitate to contact us here.