Frequently Asked Quesions
Q: Does NFB input electricity onto my brain? Is it basically going to shock me?
A: Not even remotely in any way, shape, or form. The sensors placed on the scalp read the voltages your brain waves are giving off.
Q: Are there any side effects?
A: Like everything we try, there's always the possibility of positive side effects and negative side effects. The good news is that neurofeedback is relatively free of negative side effects, and chalk full of positive ones! Common effects of neurofeedback treatment include improved self-regulation of arousal level, stress reduction, increased attention and concentration, decreased impulsivity, improved mood, improved sleep, and, my favorite, decreased need for medication. Only rarely do my patients describe experiencing negative side effects, such as increased need to sleep in the first few weeks of treatment (often a good sign that the brain waves are normalizing), headaches, and dizziness. Most negative side effects are eliminated after a good nights sleep, or a minor adjustment to the treatment protocol.
Q: I'm currently taking medication, do I have to stop the medication before I can begin neurofeedback?
A: Nope! NFB works to normalize your brain wave patterns, which is actually what medication is doing in a synthetic way. As your brain learns to normalize its brainwaves on its own, you may feel over medicated, or feel nothing at all. This is completely normal. At that point, I do a reassessment, and speak with your medication provider about possibly decreasing your medication to allow the changes from NFB to come through more clearly.
Q: How quickly does NFB work?
A: Effects vary for everyone, but usually you should begin to see results within a few sessions. Sometimes, we might have to try a few protocols because other conditions, like anxiety, might be overshadowing your current presentation.
Q: Does my insurance cover NFB?
A: It has been my experience that most insurance companies will cover their portion of NFB, as long as there is a therapeutic component, which there absolutely is. I do an extensive check in before every session to discuss changes in emotions and environment, and either the patient or their parent will be required to fill out a check list before each training session.
Q: I am currently seeing a therapist, do I have to stop?
A: I sincerely hope not! NFB works best when it's done in conjunction with traditional therapy, so if at all possible, I want you to keep seeing your therapist. However, your insurance may have session limits, or may not cover seeing two providers at the same time.
Q: What kind of time commitment is involved with Neurofeedback?
A: Training happens twice a week for a minimum of 40 sessions, about six months. Think of NFB as your brain going to the gym. The more you come, the quicker you see results. Coming twice a week helps the brain make the changes permanent faster. Some people, mostly children, will need to come for booster sessions after about six months to a year as their brain grows. Unfortunately, the brain doesn't discriminate between the good stuff and bad stuff, so we have to remind it to make the good changes permanent.
Q: Are some neurotherapists better than others?
A: Yes! It is my personal belief that a neurotherapist should be certified through a regulatory agency, such as Biofeedback Certification International Alliance, and have a background and practical experience in neuroscience. It is possible to over or under regulate someone if you don't know what you are doing, which creates negative side effects, and leaves a bad impression of the field in general. Do your research, and chose your provider carefully. I've corrected several cases of bad neurotherapy, so finding a qualified provider is crucial.
Q: Can things worsen before they get better?
A: Unfortunately, yes, but things getting worse before they get better is normal, and temporary. Brain wave patterns often shift in the wrong direction right before they shift in the right direction.
Q: My child is aggressive, and oppositional, how can neurofeedback help?
A: It has been my experience that a slight adjustment to both the left and right hemispheres helps decrease aggressive and oppositional behavior, and improves attention, and mental flexibility in most children and teens.
Q: I've been doing NFB and am not seeing any results. What am I doing wrong?
A: This answer has multiple layers to it. Our environment has a significant impact on our mental well being. I often tell my patients to seek out therapy, or additional support, in order to enhance the effects of NFB, but it's up to them to actually make that change. You could also have a bad NFB provider who doesn't know what they're doing, or medication could be masking the effects of the NFB, and if you're not willing to explore decreasing your medication as NFB progresses, then you may not be seeing the true effects.
Q: Is there anything I do during the training to make it work better?
A: Diaphragmatic breathing helps tremendously throughout the training session. You should be passively paying attention to the feedback you are getting, and attempting to maintain a relaxed state.
Q: Can Neurofeedback change who I am as a person?
A: That's a big NO! A good analogy to use is - you go to the doctor when you're feeling depressed. The doctor does an evaluation, gives you medication, you take the medication and you hopefully feel better; more like yourself again. This is how neurofeedback works, it helps decrease your symptoms so you can get back to being the best you can possibly be, except neurofeedback is not a band aid, like medication is. It changes the way your brain functions, and teaches it to get rid of your symptoms in a more permanent way.
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