What is EEG biofeedback?
Attaching sensors to different parts of the body allows electrical signals to be detected: heart waves are called EGs, brainwaves are called EEGs. These signals carry important data about the condition and states of these two organs, which in turn can be fed back to them resulting in improved functionality.
The bioelectrical profile of the EEG is composed of information on thought, metabolic state, hormonal state, attention, feelings and emotions. With the use of neurotransmitters, brainwaves communicate with our body to direct movement, sleep, thought, attention, etc.
Sometimes our brain gets into inappropriate states and it doesn’t direct our emotions or actions efficiently. This may result in ADHD, seizures, sleep disorders, depression, learning disabilities, etc. EEG biofeedback is a way to train the brain to be more efficient and effective – to be in the right gear for the task at hand.
We are constantly receiving feedback from our world, then we learn and adapt accordingly. This is the predominant way that we are taught new behaviors and EEG biofeedback works in the same way. Great examples of feedback loops include:
1. A mirror gives you visual feedback on the state of your appearance and inspires action. Behavior changes will be directly related to the area of focus - you may get a haircut, change your stained shirt, get your pants hemmed, brush your teeth or go on a diet.
2. Video recordings give golfers and tennis players visual feedback to fine tune their strokes and techniques.
3. An audience gives a performer audible feedback on whether their material is funny.
4. Gravity gives you kinesthetic feedback on developing and maintaining a state of balance on a bicycle.
In the case of EEG biofeedback, software gives you visual and audio feedback on states of emotion and cognition that are extracted from your EEG. Your brain then learns to improve the management of these states.
Once these new developmental skills are learned they eventually become automatic. Just as you always remember how to ride a bike, improvements made with EEG biofeedback you usually keep.
Specifically related to the needs of eating disorder clients, neurofeedback is effective in treating sleep disturbances, depression and anxiety without the need for medications. Often neurofeedback sessions are covered by insurance.
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The following is one patient's testimonial on the extremely positive effects of neurofeedback:
"I have always suffered from anxiety, for as long as I can remember. As I entered my adult years, my anxiety seemed to be elevated in the area of relationships. I had treated my anxiety with talk therapy, which definitely helped, but only temporarily. In May 2011, I decided that enough was enough. I felt strongly as though my anxiety surrounding relationships was holding me back from being in one. I was sick and tired of feeling insecure and helpless in this area of my life.
When Colleen suggested neurofeedback therapy, I really didn't know what to think. I was confused as to how it worked, but decided that I had nothing to lose, I was ready for a major change in how I thought and felt about my relationships. I decided to take a leap and trust this new therapy technique completely. I came to enjoy my neurofeedback sessions, and very quickly felt better about myself and more at ease when thinking about my relationships. I can honestly say that I don't know how it worked, but it did! I stuck with the treatment and after about 2 months of twice weekly treatments, I had felt a major shift in my outlook and general feelings. Again, I made peace with the fact that I didn't understand the science behind it, but instead just let it work and embraced the therapy fully.
What happened next was amazing. After about 2 and a half months of treatment, I met 'the one.' I was so confident and sure of what I wanted and deserved in a relationship, and that security came from somewhere deep inside me, as if it was inherent. I know the neurofeedback brought that out in me and allowed me to be completely trusting and open."
--- E.S., 2012