In order for psychologists to know what kind of treatment type to use, it is important for them to understand what is specifically happening in your brain. In the early days of clinical psychology, a patient’s brain activity could only be understood indirectly by asking questions and interpreting emotions. But now, thanks to revolutionary advances in the use of neurofeedback, the activity going on in our brains can be much better understood. Consequently, treatment applications are now more precise than they have ever been before.
What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback (NFB) is an approach to psychology that uses real-time biological feedback—usually through the use of an electroencephalograph (EEG)—to help improve a given individual’s cognitive functioning. During a typical neurofeedback “session” an individual will usually spend an extended period of time (1-2 hours) running through a series of activities with a trained clinician while also being able to monitor specific brain activities.
Using an EEG can be particularly helpful for both the individual receiving treatment and the clinician giving treatment because it allows them to see what is going on in their brain through tangible, illustrative graphics. For both parties, things that are otherwise entirely abstract—such as emotions, reactions, thoughts, and feelings—can be turned into something that is real, and thus much easier to understand and regulate.
What goes on during a typical neurofeedback session?
One of the reasons that neurofeedback exercises have become so popular with many teen psychologists is that from the patient’s perspective, it doesn’t even necessarily feel as if they are being treated. Instead, they might get to feel as if they are playing a simplified version of a videogame, which can be both effective and enjoyable for those who are seeking alternative forms of treatment.
During a typical neurofeedback session, the individual receiving treatment is connected with sensors that indicate which parts of their brain is most active. Activity levels are then represented through various colors on the screen. The psychologist administering the treatment can then see which parts of the brain are either overactive or underactive, and communicate these results to the patient in a useful and applicable way.
How is neurofeedback used in teen psychology?
Once the clinician understands which parts of the individual’s brain are either overactive or underactive, they can help guide them through a series of exercises and mindfulness techniques which can help teach the individual to better regulate their brain activity. During these exercises, the teenager receiving treatment can visually see the ways in which their brain is behaving, and gradually learn to behave in ways that will resemble more normal cognitive function.
The use of neurofeedback in clinical psychology is something that is constantly improving, but has already been proven by a number of different studies to produce profound and lasting results. Neurofeedback techniques can be especially useful for treating individuals with ADD or ADHD—conditions that can be easily detected through the use of an EEG and are also astoundingly common amongst today’s young people.
Why is the use of neurofeedback particularly effective?
There are a number of reasons that the use of neurofeedback has been proven to be particularly effective. When compared to more traditional psychological techniques, teenagers with ADD/ADHD have been proven to be more actively engaged and able to involve themselves in the process of receiving treatment. Being able to graphically witness and interpret the functions of one’s brain on a screen leads to a unique state of self-awareness that can more effectively maintain a given teenager’s attention in ways that other treatment models simply cannot.
Furthermore, because the clinical treatment of teenagers with ADD/ADHD often involves the use of amphetamines, many parents of individuals with these conditions have been actively seeking alternative treatments. Though when used as prescribed, prescription amphetamine use has been proven to be effective for treating some people, it does carry the possible risk of addiction along with the risks of numerous other possible side effects.
A Great Alternative
For those who are trying to receive treatment for ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, or numerous other psychological conditions without necessarily having to use drugs, neurofeedback has been clinically demonstrated to be a uniquely effective alternative. By understanding what is going on in our brain’s when we are having trouble focusing or controlling our emotions, we can learn to improve our behavior over time in a way that is both informative and immediately applicable.
If you are concerned that your teenager might be suffering from ADD/ADHD—or any clinically diagnosable condition—it is important to speak with a licensed professional. This way, you can begin the treatment process with a proper diagnosis and learn the possible treatment options you may have. For individuals looking for a healthy, productive, and constantly advancing alternative, the use of neurofeedback may be a great option.