Neurofeedback Calms and Focuses the Brain

Anyone can benefit significantly from neurofeedback training. Professional athletes use it to increase focus and skill. The US Military uses it to rehabilitate soldiers with PTSD. And it’s been widely successful in treating kids with ADHD. Perhaps you’ve heard neurofeedback mentioned before and developed a quick mental picture of pulsing brain waves and electrodes surrounding a person’s head—but there’s much more to this therapy modality. The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB) and International Society for Neurofeedback Research (ISNR) have rated Neurofeedback as the highest level of research-based intervention “efficacious and specific” (level 5) with large effect sizes (Arns et al., 2009).

Crystal Williams

Crystal Williams, Director at Calo Young Adults in Winchester, Virginia, stated, “we are committed to providing our students with the best opportunities to heal past trauma, increase self-regulation and resiliency to stress, and integrate positive new life skills to create joy and success. One of our best tools to help facilitate this growth is neurofeedback.”

Calo Young Adults is an Emerging Adult (18-28), coed, Transitional Living Program located in historic Winchester, VA. Calo Young Adults provides rigorous clinical and therapy services, in a boutique setting. The transitional living young adult program concentrates on life skills through individualized treatment. Calo Young Adults is for clinically complicated, sensitive, low-risk populations. When an emerging adult is ready, they are encouraged to move to their own apartment and attend outpatient services also at Calo Young Adults. This provides them with the community and a good continuum of care.

Certain parts of the brain can easily get out of whack through certain life experiences. This causes an over or underproduction of brain waves in specific brain regions, which leads to negative symptoms. For example, a trauma survivor would have overactivation in the amygdala (the part of the brain unconsciously searching the environment for the threat of danger), which causes him/her to constantly be on high alert, overly vigilant, and fearful. In addition, a trauma survivor would have under-activated pre-frontal cortexes (part of the brain responsible for problem-solving, empathy, and rational thinking) and anterior cingulate cortexes (part of the brain responsible for emotional regulation). Neurofeedback is simply the rewiring of the brain to function and operate as it should.

Many people who struggle with PTSD or trauma are constantly on high alert, operating out of fear, and can never be fully present or engaged in the moment at hand. They also make reckless, illogical decisions and become completely overtaken with emotion by the seemingly smallest provocation. These symptoms make daily living an intense struggle for themselves and those around them, and it’s simply not their fault. Each day, each stimulus, each trigger hijacks their brain and sends them into an overstimulated frenzy they can’t control. Their brains are too busy searching for and reacting to danger to have full attention of the present moment. This is where neurofeedback can help.

Neurofeedback helps rewire the brain, calming the overactivated regions and bringing online under-activated regions. fMRI studies show that neurofeedback can normalize attention systems in the brain (Beauregard and Lévesque, 2006). Electrodes are attached to the client’s head in the regions needing training. Once attached the information and brainwaves display on a screen in real time, providing the brain a mirror to better understand its own function. Neurofeedback will help direct the brain to create more of some frequencies and less of others. This process creates new patterns and pathways in the brain, leading to healthier reactions to stress and self-regulation. What fires together, wires together. As these new frequencies and pathways develop, the brain is rewarded through the neurofeedback program, incentivizing the brain to manifest these pathways more frequently. Once the brain has relaxed, it’s able to make better choices on how to react to stress. It’s no longer hijacked by fear and stress, allowing access to the prefrontal cortex to make more logical, thought-out decisions.

According to Calo Programs’ Director of Neurotherapies, Scott Kuenneke, “We use Neurotherapy at Calo Young Adults to activate dormant /underactive brain networks and help the nervous system integrate more efficiently. When the brain has more access to neurological resources through efficiency, symptoms related to trauma, tend to go away.” The best part about neurofeedback is that when the brain has created new, positive pathways, no further treatment is needed. Rather than influencing the chemical reactions in the brain through pharmaceutical drugs, Neurotherapy changes the fundamental brain activity. Instead of treating a symptom through a daily medication, it’s an opportunity to treat the underlying issue within the brain.

Neurotherapy is only one of the many therapy modalities at Calo Young Adults, which has proven to be effective and integrates perfectly within our relational model. There is ample opportunity to put the new neural pathways to good use within the context of healthy, safe relationships developed within the program. This ultimately leads to long-lasting change and joy for the young adults. Please visit their website at www.caloyoungadults.com to learn more about this impressive emerging adult transitional living program.

Neurofeedback Calms and Focuses the Brain
last modified: September 21st, 2017
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