Biofeedback therapy

Biofeedback therapy is a mind-body technique that uses electronic devices in combination with the patient’s awareness, to measure and control bodily functions such as brainwaves, heart rate, breathing, etc… It is a tool used to teach patients to control bodily processes that are normally involuntary (such as breathing, heart rate, brainwaves, etc…) for improved health.

There are different types of biofeedback therapy, however the therapist uses electric sensors and and other equipment to help people in treatment gain greater awareness of what is happening inside their bodies and make subtle changes to their thinking in order to control their bodies’ involuntary responses.

The therapist will identify a range of mental activities and relaxation exercises, and then train the patient to control these processes even when they are not being monitored.

Different relaxation exercises used in biofeedback therapy include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Heart maths
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Guided imagery
  • Mindfulness meditation

Biofeedback can be helpful for different mental health symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive compulsion
  • Addictions
  • Depression
  • Attention issues
  • Cognitive issues

http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/biofeedback-and-anxiety http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/biofeedback http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/biofeedback-therapy-uses-benefits#1

Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback which measures and trains brainwaves.

It trains patients to regulate their brain function, by showing them a display of their brain waves and other electrical activity of the nervous system.

Neurofeedback is also known as EEG biofeedback, because it is based on electrical brain activity as measured by electroencephalogram, or EEG.

Neurofeedback is used to address problems of brain dysregulation, which can range from psychological trauma, anxiety, depression, sleep issues, attention and behaviour disorders, to headaches and migraines.

It is also used to improve the symptoms of organic brain conditions (decreased mental function due to a medical or physical disease, rather than a psychiatric illness), such as seizures, autism and cerebral palsy. Neurofeedback does not set out to be a ‘cure’ in the case of organic brain conditions, but may still prove useful by improving brain function.

Neurofeedback can help with:

  • Behaviour
    • Neurofeedback can complement other treatments for ADHD and ADD in children, by retraining the brain to gain better control and focus
  • Stress and anxiety
    • Neurofeedback may be helpful in training your brain to change its response to stressful stimuli
  • Focus and emotional control
    • Athletes and business executives use neurofeedback technologies to improve their concentration, focus and emotional control for optimal performance
  • Disorders and sleep problems in children
    • Neurofeedback practitioners are particularly interested in treating brain-based problems in children, such as seizures, behaviour disorders, autism, brain injuries and birth trauma
    • Neurofeedback can also be used to potentially help with sleep problems such as bed wetting, sleep-walking, teeth grinding, nightmares and night terrors
  • Cognitive decline with age
    • Neurofeedback may also help to maintain good brain function as people get older; almost all brains can be trained to function better

How it works

  • Neurofeedback is typically provided by mental health professionals such as psychologists, family therapists and counsellors, who work with the client one-on-one.
  • The trained professional applies electrodes to the scalp to listen in on brain wave activity
  • The signal is processed on a computer
  • They extract information about certain important brain wave frequencies, and show this activity to the patient
  • In a process that feels a bit like playing a video game with the brain, the person attempts to change the activity level: some frequencies they are told to promote, while others they attempt to diminish
  • Eventually, brainwave activity is shaped towards more desirable performance
  • The frequencies targeted and the chosen locations on the scalp are specific to the individual being treated

(2017). What is neurofeedback? [online] EEGinfo. Available at: http://www.eeginfo.com/what-is-neurofeedback.jsp [accessed 10 Nov. 2017].

Controversy

Neurofeedback clinics

  • Brainworks is the premier provider of neurofeedback in the UK. They have a London clinic, as well as offering at-home treatment. Click here for more information
  • To find a provider in the United States or internationally, see here