Biofeedback | Stress Management
Neurofeedback is mind brain/brainwave training. It is a non-invasive, scientific, evidence based brain training that has extensive research literature dating originally from the 1960’s. As digital computer technology developed, scientists were able to develop programs that provide evaluation of brain wave states and feedback systems for changing brain wave activity. In this training individuals learn to shift and change their brainwave activity “at will” to more adaptive patterns.
Drs. Champaigne and Klassen have been incorporating biofeedback and EEG biofeedback (neurofeedback) which is also termed Neurotherapy into treatment protocols for children and adults since the early 90’s. They and their Neurotherapists have had extensive training over many years. The field has been especially growing rapidly over the last 20 years with many health professionals such as psychiatrists, family physicians, and psychologists not yet aware of the current developments in the field and the efficiency of the modality.
Our interventions and clinical approaches often involve a strong psycho-physiological component to treatment when we see people with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, head injury, pain, sleep, and attentional problems. This means that therapy is at two levels. In psychotherapy with the psychologist, there is a focus on treating issues, changing negative thinking patterns, changing relationship patterns, healing trauma, changing patterns of cognitive thoughts processes that influence behaviour and mood, and of course, changing behaviours. The second level of treatment involves assisting the person to gain control over their psycho-physiological stress and anxiety reactions, with training using biofeedback and EEG neurofeedback.
Biofeedback is training that utilizes sensors to “feedback” information to an individual about their body’s functioning. Recordings of physiological signals that individuals are not normally aware of, such as muscle tension, heart rate variability, hand temperature and brain waves, are measured and are viewed on screen. The individual receives both visual and auditory feedback and with training learns skills to increase coping skills for changing minds states. With repetitive training the person learns and trains to first change/shift to a calm state when stressed or anxious. They then learn to shift from being in a “spaced out” or “zoned out” state to one of calm and focussed attention. Once this is achieved, they then learn to shift into a drowsy state to induce sleep or return to sleep if awakened.
What happens in a neurofeedback/biofeedback session?
The individual training in neurofeedback therapy is seated in a comfortable chair in front of a computer monitor. The initial assessment is typically completed following a Clinical Q profile, developed by Dr. Paul Swingle, psychologist, to guide development of individualized treatment protocols. A Quantitative EEG (QEEG) can also be completed to provide more detailed information in more complex situation. A therapist who is seated in the room with the client selects the images to be used on the screen via a computer and also determines the brain waves which are being trained. The brain wave activity is measured via sensors that are placed on various places on the scalp and there is a clip on each ear. The brain wave activity is visible on the computer screen and varies depending upon a person’s emotional state. The goal is to improve brain functioning by reinforcing brain wave activity below or above certain frequency thresholds depending upon the client’s profile. With repetitive training, the client’s brain can learn to change the visual images and to turn on or off the music or tone on the computer at will. The brain then learns to move into a more optimal state with being able to be more flexible in responding to cognitive and emotional demands. The improved changes in brain functioning are stable and lasting, typically not changing unless there is a change in health.