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The brain is an amazing thing. Its ability to adapt and change by forming new neural connections helps us learn and adjust to our environment. There is a particular type of biofeedback, called neurofeedback therapy, that harnesses the brain’s adaptability — its neuroplasticity — to help it function in a healthier and more balanced way. This therapeutic technique retrains the brain by monitoring and enhancing brainwave patterns to improve the symptoms of psychiatric problems such as trauma, mental illness and addiction.

At Avalon Malibu, we use neurofeedback therapy as a safe and effective way to help patients overcome these and other concerns. Our trained therapists work closely with each individual to develop a customized treatment plan tailored to their unique needs, promoting the best possible outcome from this innovative and therapeutic technique.

What is Neurofeedback Therapy?

The brain generates electrical signals when neurons fire, and neurofeedback therapy monitors and interprets these electrical signals as measurable brainwaves. Since brainwaves are related to specific functions and governing states of mind, neurofeedback therapy can pinpoint areas of concern and help “rewire” the brain to improve its functioning. With long-term drug and alcohol abuse, the client’s brain can become conditioned over time to associate certain brainwave patterns negatively. Neurofeedback therapy helps clients learn to form positive associations and regulate brain function by experiencing natural rewards.

Emotional pain can be masked by all sorts of symptomatology, including mental illness and addiction. Our goal at Avalon Malibu is to assist each client in breaking through old patterns and shedding beliefs that no longer serve the whole person, while also healing past trauma.

How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?

Neurofeedback therapy works by monitoring and enhancing a patient’s brainwaves. It does this by detecting electrical pulses and blood flow changes within the brain to quantify brainwave patterns, producing a signal that can be used to measure brain activity. This information is used to regulate brainwaves and help the brain to stay calm and focused.

Neurofeedback therapy starts with brain mapping. The patient is fitted with a sensor-equipped cap that uses electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes to monitor activity within the brain. This data is sent to a computer monitoring system that interprets recorded brain activity. The monitoring system then uses a sophisticated software program to compare the data to ‘normal’ brain signatures, providing more insight into a patient’s brainwave patterns. The software records all brain activity and rhythmic patterns known as beta waves, statistically measuring all ‘average’ brain function. Using this information, practitioners can determine which areas of the brain could benefit from neurofeedback training sessions.

What Happens During a Neurofeedback Therapy Session?

Once brain mapping has been completed to establish a baseline and determine which areas are being targeted, a treatment protocol will be developed that’s unique to each individual. In neurofeedback therapy, specialized treatment protocols are used to promote or inhibit certain brainwaves. Then, based on auditory or visual feedback, a desired state of functioning is rewarded to teach self-regulation.

This might be accomplished by having patients watch a video or play a game while brain activity is measured. The visual or auditory feedback will function properly when brainwaves are in an optimal state, but will fade from the screen if they’re abnormal (e.g., unfocused, slow or stressed). The brain quickly corrects itself to keep the game or video running smoothly, learning new patterns that help it function better. As self-regulation improves, many patients notice fewer mental health symptoms and gains in memory, attention and focus.

Neurofeedback sounds complicated, but it essentially allows us to take a closer look at electrical activity within a specific part of the brain and determine if it is outside of the norm. An Avalon Malibu therapist will know if an area is a contributing factor to addiction or mental health problems and create an individualized treatment plan based on these results.

Candidates for Neurofeedback Therapy

Neurofeedback therapy can help children and adults with a wide range of behavioral, mental or emotional health problems, including addiction. Backed by years of research, neurofeedback therapy has been shown to improve the symptoms of mental illness, but it can also address learning and developmental delays. Some other applications of neurofeedback therapy include helping patients with the following conditions:

  • Substance abuse / addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Concussions & traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Memory problems
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental delays

While almost anyone can benefit from neurofeedback therapy sessions, the most successful patients are those who keep an open mind and are willing to commit to the treatment process. Ideal candidates should also be willing to work together with their therapist to achieve the best results. Some patients might notice an immediate improvement in their brain function, but neurofeedback therapy isn’t a “quick fix.” The beneficial effects can take some time to develop. Combining neurofeedback therapy with other therapeutic modalities like psychotherapy can help enhance its efficacy.

Why Neurofeedback Therapy Helps

Our psychiatrists work with the underlying psychiatric disorders that often accompany addictions. We believe that treating the co-occurring disorder is the key to long-lasting healing and recovery. In neurofeedback therapy, the brain waves and graphs are shown to the client via sounds or images so that they can learn to exert some control over them. This biofeedback lessens feelings of anxiety, offering a calming sense of focus while clearing the mind. Those who have tried neurofeedback therapy say that it can change lives.

Neurofeedback therapy provides the brain with almost instantaneous information and asks it to make adjustments. Providing the brain with introspective information, allows it to enact dynamic change as a result of its unique capabilities.

Every year, people grow more concerned about the side effects of medication, as well as the fact that some medicines have either stopped working or have never worked. Neurofeedback therapy is a growing alternative to medication – is simple and painless, and there are no side effects. After training ends, the hope is that the benefits will persist, with continuing changes in behavior allowing more ability to focus and attend to regular activities.

Contact Avalon Malibu

The brain is malleable, and neurofeedback therapy harnesses our remarkable ability to adapt to promote healing and mental wellness. Our trained therapists are happy to help patients explore this treatment option and achieve a calmer, more balanced state of mind. To learn neurofeedback therapy at Avalon Malibu, contact or call us today at 866-332-1068.

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