Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a 50-year-old practice of hacking the brain to improve its functioning. Each neurofeedback session is administered by a professional who uses portable EEG devices and sensors called electrodes to measure faint electrical brain wave signals in the trainee’s skull.

These signals are forwarded to a computer, where sophisticated software analyzes the data and rewards the brain (often in the form of a tone heard via earphones) when it produces the desired changes to the electrical patterns.

Researchers believe that the brain responds to these rewards by creating new electrical patterns, similar to learning skills such as riding a bike or reading in a foreign language.

Slowly, over time, trainees can teach their brains through neurofeedback new — and lasting — positive habits and self-regulation. The training, typically around forty 60-minute sessions for optimum results, is painless, safe, gentle, and done in private.

How Does Neurofeedback Happen?

There are several different theoretical approaches to neurofeedback. I follow the approach of whole-brain training, which means that I take a balanced approach to seeing what’s going on and training several places on the scalp, in rotation.

Although the brain is not a muscle, this approach is similar to working with a personal trainer, in that they would not train to build just one muscle group, they’d work the whole body.

The process begins with an interview to determine your training goals. Then, together we will take a measurement of brainwave activity at 20 sites on the scalp. This brain map, called a Trainers’ QEEG, is a snapshot in time that is used to determine where and how to begin training.

Together, we then implement a plan for sessions that usually work up to 60 minutes and, at first, occur two or three times per week. Near the end of our work together, we may taper off to once a week or less.

Again if using the exercise analogy, it makes sense to know that training builds over time. It’s important not to go a long time between sessions, just as you would not go to the gym just once a week and expect to get quick results.

Consistent brain training allows most people to begin to see results within 6-10 sessions (really stuck brains may take longer, but we would know this before beginning).

The overall number of sessions required is determined by training goals, how the body responds and whether training is consistent, but for most people it is somewhere around 40 sessions. It is possible to achieve your goals in as few as 25 sessions, but that is not the norm, and people who stop too early often need to return for so-called booster sessions. I do not believe in boosters and try to train people to reach their goals and stay there. Once a person has completed training, there is rarely a need to return for additional training.

Who Uses Neurofeedback?

People from all walks of life have safely used neurofeedback for a variety of purposes. Most trainees are average people, but elite performers especially recognize how it helps them. A few examples include athletes, musicians, and military officers:

The Canadian Olympic team used neurofeedback to improve its performance at the 2010 Vancouver games.
U.S. Marine Special Force teams have been known to use neurofeedback training to deal with high-stress, life-or-death situations they will be exposed to in the field.
Top students in London music schools have used neurofeedback to improve their outcomes in high-stakes juried performances.
Italy’s World Cup Champion soccer team in 2006 credited neurofeedback training for improving individual and team performance.
In addition, a growing segment of users are people who do their training from the privacy of their own homes. Home trainers generally have reasons for doing so, such as having training goals that require far more than the typical amount of sessions.

For most people, it makes more sense to see a professional, but learning to train at home saves them time and money for those with exceptional needs.

Who Succeeds At Neurofeedback Training?

People who get the best results from training are those who commit themselves to their well-being and make it a priority, which includes dedicating time each week for brain training.

They also recognize that neurofeedback does not happen in a vacuum and do not expect it to be a magical cure-all. If a person needs medical or mental health care, she will have better outcome from neurofeedback training by taking care of those other needs, too.

How Do I Know It Will Work?

Almost everyone can achieve some benefit from brain training; the question is generally one of how much benefit and not whether it will work. Better results come from:

Consistent training, especially early on.
Good self-care habits. This includes taking care of your eating patterns, sleeping properly, moving your body, and nurturing your spirit.
Keeping your professional caregivers in the loop and collaborating with them. This includes not just your doctor and mental health care providers, but your chiropractor, acupuncturist, etc. This is particularly important when medications are involved, because they may need to be titrated down, and only your doctor can do that with you.
A collaborative relationship with your neurofeedback provider. This is a team effort between trainee and coach, and your feedback is essential to making your sessions customized to you.
Addressing issues in your life. Neurofeedback may feel relaxing, but it’s a small tool in the face of more powerful stressors like a toxic work environment or a crumbling relationship.

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What Costs Are Involved?

It depends. On average, most people need around 40 one-hour sessions over the course of five to six months, but the total number of sessions is customized per person and may vary. Currently, individual sessions are $100, and the initial brain map is $320.

Comparing prices among practitioners can be confusing. With me, you are getting a measurement of 20 standard sites compared with ratios that researchers have found are present in the brains of optimally functioning people. It is called a “Trainers’ QEEG.” This produces recommendations for where and what to train. I do not stop there, however, I am trained to examine the brain map and decide whether different and additional sites ought to be included in the training plan. This means that in addition to spending time conducting the assessment, I spend time processing it and analyzing it.

This is different from some practitioners, who send your electrical brain recordings off to be compared with normative databases that provide training based on how different you are from a “normal” brain. There is nothing wrong with this, but I do not think that any one person has a “normal” brain. Other practitioners conduct rapid assessments that they advertise cheaply to pull in clients. Then, there are practitioners who decide what to train based on interviewing you and not on measuring what’s actually happening in the brain. Please understand that although these are not my preferred choices for conducting training, they are valid methods, and you deserve to know what you’re comparing besides just price.

Individual training sessions last one hour, and I use every bit of that hour for training. Most people get around 40 minutes of training per hour in my office.

As far as insurance coverage goes, this is a source of frustration for those who expect neurofeedback to fit into a medical model. Unless you have a high-end plan, insurance rarely covers neurofeedback beyond the occasional initial consultation and a couple of introductory sessions or for a diagnosis of autism. If you will not do neurofeedback without insurance coverage, I encourage you to start by contacting your insurance company to see if they are one that does provide coverage.

More encouraging is that most people have found that they can use pre-tax dollars with health-care spending accounts.

You may find psychotherapists who claim that your insurance will cover brain training because they will also do psychotherapy along with your brain training. They may get away with it, but this is a practice that ranges from a gray area into fraud, depending upon how any one insurance company chooses to address it. Not only do I not do this, I no longer work as a counselor and do not provide psychotherapy for my clients.

Do You Offer A Discount For Multiple Family Members?

Yes! I charge my full rate for the first person, and subsequent family members receive a 15% discount. This is a rather popular arrangement.

Do You Offer A Military Or First Responder Discount?

Yes! You and your immediate family may receive a 10% discount.

What Happens If I Don’t Like It?

I have never had a client say that they couldn’t tolerate training. It can be a little intimidating during the first session to have a new experience like working with your brain’s energy patterns, but the idea is for it to feel good, and it almost always does.

I like to tell the story of a young man whose parents barely persuaded him to try brain training. He arrived in my office the first day with both a ball cap on this head and a hoodie covering the cap, making it a challenge for me to reach his head for training. He refused to provide eye contact and answered my questions with monosyllabic grunts. By the end of the first session, he gave eye contact. Within four sessions, I knew all about his girlfriend, favorite television shows and movies, and outside activities. This occurred because he felt safe and, most importantly, the training felt good to him.

I Have A Special Need. Can I Still Do Brain Training?

Almost everyone can do training. If you have an especially challenging situation, such as autism, stroke or TBI, or have a history of problems relating to adoption, it may take you longer than others to achieve results, and learning to home train may be a good option. It is also important to collaborate with your physician or psychologist.
The Brain Artisan

If you want to explore how neurofeedback can help you and your particular situation, great! Please fill out our contact form to request a consultation.




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