What is Neurofeedback?

Last month I shared I would be starting Neurofeedback again to help my anxiety. I’ve done four sessions since then and have noticed an improvement in my spiraling thoughts. So, how exactly does NFB work?

The counselor attaches sensors to different areas on your head (where they are placed is dependent on what you are trying to overcome). Once you are hooked up, you may watch the graphics of a “video game”, listen to music or watch a movie. The counselor watches your brain waves on his/her computer so they are able to see their current state. The NFB program begins to give the client positive and negative feedback based on their brain wave activity.

The type of feedback I’ve done most often is the video game. This isn’t like your typical video game, though. This game is played only with your mind. One of the games I’ve done is a bug going through a grassy maze. The better I was doing, the faster I would go. When my mind would wander off, my bug would slow down or even stop. The last time I did this type of feedback, I got a bit sleepy so my counselor decided to switch things up.

In my last few sessions, I have been watching a movie. When my brain is functioning properly, the movie picture is full size and clear, but when I am distracted, the picture gets smaller and lighter making it harder to see. I have enjoyed this style of feedback and have made some progress with it. I have one more session to finish the movie and then we may try a different type of feedback.

The very first session, which was the first time doing NFB in two years, it took my brain a little while to level out, but my counselor did say she could tell I had done the training before and my brain recognized it. At the end of that session, she gave me a print out of my brain waves which I thought was pretty cool. My previous counselor would share a summary of what she saw with me but this was the first time I was able to see it on paper and was better able to understand what was happening.

The next time, which was just one week later, my brain knew exactly what was going on and began to self regulate very quickly. The third time, however, it was kind of all over the place again. Some reasons for this was that it was two weeks in between sessions, and I was running late to get there, which had me a bit on edge. Eventually, it did regulate but not to the same degree as the time before. My last session, things were improved again, regulating very quickly.

If you’ve never experienced nuerofeedback, this may be hard to understand. I had no idea how any of this worked when I first started. What I did know was that I felt a significant decrease in my spiraling mind, my reactions to different situations and my anxious feelings. Thankfully, I am reaping the benefits once again. I am feeling more calm and rational which brings me such relief. While NFB is not a cure, it can help you manage and self regulate your thoughts and reactions. I will continue with this training and will begin to stretch out the time in between sessions. Now that I have found a counselor near me, however, I will be sure to “tune-up” more often to avoid a state of heightened anxiety.

This was a very brief overview of neurofeedback and how it has played a positive role in my life. There are so many great articles out there that can give you a better understanding. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD or another type of brain disorder, I encourage you to do some research and speak with a licensed professional. If you are local to Des Moines, IA or Owatonna, MN, I would gladly refer you to my two wonderful counselors. Mental health is not something that needs to be whispered about or ashamed of. Let’s work together to get better and be the best versions of ourselves.

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