What is Neurofeedback, and How Can it Help?

by Dr. Kimberly Crooks, PsyD Therapist

When I tell people I use neurofeedback in my practice, I often get puzzled expressions. Some may have heard it mentioned by their friends or colleagues but have no idea what neurofeedback is and how it can improve their lives.

Neurofeedback is a research-supported treatment used to sharpen attention, relieve anxiety, enhance mood and improve learning, all without medication.

Although we are all born with “hard-wired” networks of neurons and connecting fibers, our brains are constantly being shaped and changed by our experiences. Neurofeedback makes use of this natural capacity of the brain to change.

During a neurofeedback session, the person sits in a comfortable recliner. They have sensors attached to their scalp and listen to specially designed music through earbuds while their brainwaves are monitored.

It is important to note that absolutely nothing goes into the brain as the sensors only read the brainwaves. When the brainwaves move in the desired direction, the brain is given auditory, positive feedback that sounds like a series of clicks. Eventually, the brainwave activity is “shaped” toward a more desirable, and more regulated, performance.

Brainwave activity is at the base of all thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Brainwaves can be thought of as very small pulses of electrical activity produced when neurons communicate. These electrical pulses vary in power and frequency levels according to the person’s mental state.

Even though the changes during a neurofeedback session can be immediate, they get even stronger over time, depending on the individual.

The main feedback I get from my clients is they have notably less anxiety and depression, have more clarity and are less reactive in stressful situations. My students report having better recall during tests and completing more assignments on time.

One client was told she would be on medication for the rest of her life; however, none of the medications ever worked. She could not leave her house, was underweight and withdrawn. She attributes neurofeedback to being off all medication. She is thriving, and says she now feels mentally and physically stronger than she ever thought possible.

There are no side effects, and you will come out of the session relaxed and refreshed.