Biofeedback or neurofeedback are related methods that are being used with reported success in the treatment of mental health disorders such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, OCD, for anxiety and stress, as well as a host of other mental health issues.
Neurofeedback has become any accepted treatment for ADHD, and considered in official sources to be "probably efficacious," meaning there is evidence that neurofeedback is effective for ADHD
, but more professional studies are needed to further document its effectiveness.
Biofeedback can be differentiated from neurofeedback in that biofeedback involves more than just the central nervous system, but also can include monitoring and feedback of other physical body functions. Neurofeedback is what is more commonly used in treatment of ADHD
and mental health disorders, and it focuses solely on the central nervous system.
Neurofeedback specifically, provides feedback from the monitoring on EEG brain waves from the client. Visual graphics on a computer screen are used while the brain wave active of directed concentration from the client are measured with feedback from EEG waves. The client learns to focus attention in specific areas of the brain, and a reward system is used, giving feedback. The client then learns to focus his attention in the area of the brain, the frontal area in the case of
, thus strengthening, through training, that area.
Early neurofeedback device. 1980's.
Photo: D. Smith. MindLab
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David Rabiner,Ph.D., research scientist of Duke University defines Neurofeedback, also known as EEG Biofeedback, as an approach for treating ADHD in which individuals are provided real-time feedback on their brainwave activity and taught to alter their typical EEG pattern to one that is consistent with a focused and attentive state.
According to neurofeedback proponents, when this occurs, improved attention and reduced hyperactive/impulsive behavior will result. Rabiner cites 14 clinical studies, which, using the American Psychological Association (APA) 5-level system for grading the evidence for efficaciousness of mental health treatments, scores Neurofeedback Level 3, "probably efficacious" in treating ADHD. (Some empirical evidence from controlled studies is still lacking for a higher rating). Previously, CHADD had rated Neurofeedback as Level 2, "possibly efficacious," however the results of new studies on Neurofeedback have warranted a higher rating.
The goals of Neurofeedback are:
- Stabilizing overall brain function by strengthening the brain's ability to routinely produce brainwaves in healthy ranges.
- Improving the ability of the brain to shift from one brainwave state to another smoothly and effectively and then stay there as long as needed.
- Improving brain functioning in localized areas of the brain associated with specific problems an individual is experiencing.
Neurofeeback has also been used for
bipolar disorder and other mental health difficulties.
Is Neurofeedback/Biofeedback an Effective Treatment?
Is Neurofeedback (biofeedback) an effective treatment for
? There is not universal agreement on the subject, however, it seems as if it can be an effective treatment for many. The National Resource Center on AD/HD
, CHADD's information center, lists the following ratings for neurofeedback/biofeedback:
1.The American Psychological Association (APA) considers biofeedback or neurofeedback for ADHD to be "Probably Efficacious," the third category in a scale of 1 to 5.
2. CHADD (currently) holds that neurofeedback is a valid "Option," for treatment of ADHD one level below Clinical Guidelines, in terms of the 4 level rating system of the AACAP. 3 on a scale of 1 to 4.
4.The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) uses a four level scale and rates neurofeedback as reaching the third level of the four level scale in terms of "Clinical Guidelines," for ADHD treatment, one removed from the highest rating. 3 on a scale of 3 to 4.
How biofeedback works
Neurofeedback/biofeedback shows promise in the treatment of bipolar disorder
, controlling panic attacks
, and other mental health disorders.
Why Neurofeedback / Biofeedback Works
Neurofeedback, might be likened to mind strengthening exercises. Biofeedback also helps strengthen the mind's control over mental and body functions. If we had some sort of physical disability such as a stroke which weakened the use in one hand, a physical therapist might encourage squeezing a rubber ball for several sessions each day.
Neurofeedback functions according to the same basic idea for the mind, training you to control your mind and sustain concentration. It provides regular sessions whereby you can exercise the mind, concentrating and controlling your thoughts in a fixed location or direction. Thus the client gains self control and more strength over his will and behavior. Neurofeedback / Biofeedback can also target specific emotions to try to control.
This is why
also is so efficacious in similar mental health disorders, the principle being very similar to that of biofeedback. Art as therapy
or self help
trains a person to focus his attention on a specific point over an extended period of time. It requires concentration and precision. The artist
has lost a sense of time and the extended focus develops the mental strength and can lead to a better sense of self control and self efficacy.
Biofeedback Therapy and Neurofeedback Conclusion
Art as therapy
or neurofeedback / biofeedback are not the complete answer to mental health disorders. But they can be a part of an effective non-pharmaceutical program that can help a person successful overcome a number of mental health disorders in a way that is possibly more effective than reliance on pharmaceuticals and with no side effects
, short or long term. Any side effects from neuro- or biofeedback are positive.
The conclusion is, neurofeedback / biofeedback can be an effective though costly tool for some children and adults in conjunction with other therapy methods
and lifestyle changes
Biofeedback and Neurofeedback Page References:
1. Attention Research Update. David Rabiner, Ph.D., Duke University, September 12, 2007 newsletter. www.helpforadd.com
2. National Resource Center on AD/HD.: A Program of CHADD.
Neurofeedback; An Effective Alternative Treatment for AD/HD? NRC News ADHD Newsletter. March 31, 2008.
3. New Review of Neurofeedback Treatment for ADHD - Current State of the Science, David Rabiner, Ph.D., January 2012. Attention Research Update
4. Neurofeedback Today, Dr. David Bissette. Retrieved April 2, 2008.
http://neurofeedbacktoday.com/aboutnf.htm Off-site link
Pages Related to Coaching and Mentoring
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Art for ADHD
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and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Types
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Bipolar Disorder Self Help