By Tiffany Cagle-Schrift, LPC, BCN, NCC
Listening, Learning and Living Better through Neurofeedback
My hope and desire for anyone I meet is that they are living a full life, not just surviving but THRIVING! Like many counselors before me, my journey to the mental health field is a personal one. When you go through difficult seasons, you want to impart that wisdom and tough lessons to help others find their path. When I began my career, I used more well-known techniques, like cognitive behavioral therapy and play therapy, but it wasn’t long before I became increasingly aware that the mental health field needed alternatives.
As a therapist, I desired to see more substantial changes in my clients’ lives, and I knew my clients needed more positive changes too! Mental health impacts each and every one of us on a daily basis, and I knew our field needed options. We live in an increasingly complex world that requires creative and reliable solutions especially in the mental health field. I will always support traditional counseling and medications because in certain seasons of life these are necessary, but I will also support our society utilizing evidence based alternatives to help each of us live a better life.
I will forever be grateful to the clinicians who introduced me to Neurofeedback (NFB), who worked tirelessly to train me and who assisted me in getting started. Through their support, I began to dive in and learn more about NFB. I began to learn firsthand how powerful NFB was for people who had tried many other options, but they were left with subpar results or no change at all.
I have witnessed clients decrease their medications (with the help of their physicians) and eliminate some medications altogether, witnessed clients’ poor behaviors decrease allowing them to connect better in school, work and relationships, and witnessed parents regain deeper satisfaction for parenting and a sense of relief that they could offer a better solution for their child. At this point, I decided to make NFB a large part of my practice so I could hone my skills and provide top of the line care to my clients and educate the community about this powerful alternative.
What is NFB? Let’s spend some time explaining how NFB works.
First, we need to understand how the brain is functioning, so we conduct a “brain map.” The scientific term is QEEG. You can think of a brain map the same way you would an X-ray. A doctor would never set a broken bone without taking an X-ray first. Once we decide where to train, we use NFB to teach the person to regulate that area. Typically, any given area has too much of one brain wave, not enough of another or a combination of both.
Think of NFB as an exercise regime for your brain. Symptoms appear because our brains aren’t functioning properly, more precisely our brainwaves aren’t regulated. The more we exercise, the healthier we become. The goal of NFB is to teach the brain to regulate itself without needing medications and reducing problematic symptoms. NFB training occurs while listening to relaxing music or watching your favorite movie. If someone is training while watching a movie, they receive visual “feedback” when the TV screen becomes bright and auditory “feedback” when their brain is more regulated. More training establishes more regulation leading to a decrease in problematic symptoms.
NFB addresses issues at the root of the problem; it doesn’t mask symptoms, but instead teaches self-regulation. It is nonmedical, noninvasive, painless, and it can be fun! NFB can assist individuals of all ages struggling with anxiety, depression, attention issues, academic challenges, behavioral concerns, trauma, poor cognitive functioning and so much more. NFB is an evidence based practice backed by decades of research which has increased in quality over the past few years.
NFB is not a quick fix or a cure all. Life happens, and we need to ensure we are taking care of ourselves in every way possible. Sometimes that means working with a multi-disciplinarian team of clinicians to ensure you are receiving well-rounded care, eating healthier, exercising more and/or reducing stressors in your life.
If you or a loved one have struggled finding relief, I hope the you will spend some time researching, asking questions, and consider using NFB for a higher quality of life. It could be life changing for you and your family.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” -Ancient Chinese Proverb
Tiffany Cagle-Schrift is the director/clinician at A Brighter Mind in Winston Salem. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified in Neurofeedback.
*Sponsored by A Brighter Mind