The Benefits of Neurofeedback Therapy
Addiction of any kind is particularly difficult to deal with because it changes thought patterns and behavior. This is why there is a need for methods that also target the thought patterns and behavior of people in treating addiction.
More and more therapists, however, are noticing that the benefits of neurofeedback are worth looking into in the search for a more effective and lasting way to treat addiction.
At Luna Recovery Services in Houston, Texas, our facility provides services and resources such as neurofeedback therapy to help people and their loved ones successfully manage their mental illness and substance abuse problems.
What is Neurofeedback and How Does it Work?
Neurofeedback therapy, otherwise known as electroencephalography (EEG), is a non-invasive procedure that measures a patient’s brainwaves by recording the electrical activity going on in the brain. This method provides real-time feedback about how the brain is functioning. To see how a person’s brain might react to specific scenarios, certain stimuli are given to the person undergoing neurofeedback, such as a video game, and the brain’s response is recorded for comparison to other data.
It should be noted, however, that the stimuli given are designed to elicit a very specific response from the person. This is why the video games used are not so much actual games but more like simulators that echo certain aspects in real life, such as a person’s reaction to speed, moving about in a safe manner, and the like. While different people might have different reactions to these stimuli, there are certain baseline ranges set by therapists that help them gauge what parameters are within the norm, and which results are not.
The process allows the brain to become aware of any specific dysfunction or irregularity going on in the body, specifically in the way the brain functions. Establishing and validating this fact helps the brain in formulating the proper response to fix whatever needs fixing. Addiction of any sort produces irregularities that stand out during neurofeedback therapy.
What are the Benefits of Neurofeedback Therapy?
Neurofeedback therapy is fast becoming a popular therapeutic form for many conditions as it affords the patient very specific benefits relevant to conditions that may affect the way a person thinks and behaves.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of neurofeedback treatment is that it is completely non-invasive. There is no need to cut open the patient, no need to insert any probes or monitoring devices, and ominous and frightening machine that the patient needs to go into for the procedure.
Patients undergoing neurofeedback therapy are not even required to take any medication or substance for the procedure. At best, electrodes or electronic sensors are affixed to the patient’s head to monitor the brainwave activity going on during the procedure. The monitoring process could also involve having the patient try out a few video games or simulators to see how the brain processes and reacts to specific stimuli.
While there have been massive strides in the field of innovative medicine and treatment, the human mind largely remains an enigma to medical professionals. As such, there is still a measure of trial-and-error done in the treatment of various conditions that involve the brain and aberrant behavior. In many cases, this trial-and-error process involves medication and various substances, to see which one would work the best, and there are cases where the use of certain medications could prove to be worse.
Neurofeedback therapy does not make use of any medication or substance at all. There is nothing to ingest or take for the procedure to work, thereby eliminating the possibility of an adverse reaction to medications or substances due to an allergic reaction. This particular benefit alone makes neurofeedback therapy one of the safest, and thereby preferable forms of treatment for conditions that involve the brain.
The truth of neurofeedback therapy is that it alerts the patient of irregularities and dysfunctions happening that it might not be aware of so that the natural human ability to correct itself might kick in and fix things. In other instances, there could be factors that are preventing the patient’s mind from comprehending the gravity of the situation that needs correcting. This process also shines a light on that situation.
Should the patient not be naturally capable of initiating the self-mending process after the initial awareness of the problem, therapists conducting the neurofeedback therapy can do so.
To answer the question of what is neurofeedback therapy used for other than addiction treatment, studies done on neurofeedback therapy are showing a significant rate of success in dealing with conditions that are normally difficult to deal with, such as reducing impulsive behavior, overcoming severe denial, and dealing with overpowering compulsions or unexplainable behavior. Mostly, these conditions are dealt with using neurofeedback therapy because the procedure gives a concrete basis for therapy to work around with.
There are many instances where even the most skilled psychotherapist finds it difficult to deal with a patient who could not begin to understand why they are doing what they are doing. This lack, or in some cases denial, of cause makes any kind of realization almost impossible. Neurofeedback therapy gives actual and real-time data that could be used as hard evidence of the condition and the need for treatment.
Neurofeedback therapy is not just applicable to addiction treatment. Recent studies on it reveal that this type of therapy is also effective in dealing with other habit-related conditions such as eating disorders and even in identifying stress-related dysfunctions.
As most conditions that affect the behavior could also be traced to the brain, it stands to reason that these could also be traced and dealt with using a method that monitors specific brainwave functions and activity.
More than just a form of therapy intended to help overcome addiction or other disorders, neurofeedback therapy actually helps in a much broader sense as it helps restore balance to the entire system of the patient. As neurofeedback therapy could help identify dysfunctions and irregularities in the brain, it could also identify whatever else is not functioning properly.
This is done when the therapist interprets the data acquired after a neurofeedback session. While therapists could choose to focus more on the data that could help deal with addiction, they also garner insights as to whatever else could be wrong with the patient through the data, regardless if it contributes to making the addiction worse, or if it has nothing to do with the addiction at all and points to a completely separate disorder.
When a patient doesn’t understand what is happening to them when they have a condition, it makes the healing process even more difficult as they also deal with an internal struggle to try to figure out what is happening to them and why it is happening.
There are many instances where patients with a significantly better outlook on their condition are able to achieve a faster and more lasting form of recovery than others. Such an outlook could be achieved with the kind of knowledge derived from neurofeedback therapy, as it gives hard and accurate data.
Neurofeedback therapy is a prime example of the saying “forewarned is forearmed,” as the patient is given a better and more in-depth understanding of what is happening to them supported by data taken from their brain.
With this knowledge, they can predict the circumstances that surround the instances when they are overcome with the urge to use substances, and therefore avoid these circumstances, ensuring they stay on the path of sobriety.
Is Neurofeedback Therapy Better than Medication-Assisted Treatment?
To give a blanket statement that neurofeedback therapy is better in dealing with medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in dealing with addiction is doing a disservice to both treatments.
Neurofeedback therapy works to help a person identify specific behavioral and psychological issues that stem from a dysfunction that affects the brain. The identification is supported by the data derived from the procedure, which removes any speculation as to whether the condition is something that could be traced to activity involving the brain.
Medication-assisted treatment is a procedure that helps people overcome specific urges and cravings that they get unconsciously. More than just a habit that could be traced to the brain, conditions that require MAT are those that involve chemical adjustments that happened in the body. MAT is also largely used to help deal with some of the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal.
Luna Recovery Services Can Help You Understand Your Condition Better With Neurofeedback Therapy
When it comes to conditions like addiction, depression, and anxiety disorders, knowing the needed data relevant to the condition could make a world of difference in treating it. This is why we here at Luna Recovery make a point of finding out as much as possible about a person’s condition, using methods that yield only accurate and usable data, so that we are better able to help get them on the road to recovery and help them stay on it as well.
Recovery is a science that we are quite familiar with, and we use every bit of expertise to help anyone who needs it to achieve a better, fuller, and healthier life. Contact our admissions team today.
Dr. Allaire received his Bachelors of Science in Biology from the University of Houston, as Valedictorian of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and his Medical Doctorate from Baylor College of Medicine, where he served as Chief Resident. He is the medical monitor for the Physician Counseling Committee of the Harris County Medical Society and the Medical Director of Serenity House Detox. Dr. Allaire specializes in medically assisted detox cases, treating patients in recovery from addiction or other mental health disorders, the medical assessment and monitoring of patients with addictive disorders, medical care related to eating disorders and the medical treatment of patients with mental health conditions.