How it Works
“We know from decades of data how the brain typically reacts…” “When we compare your brain with the research it can point out areas of potential challenge. From there we formulate a treatment plan to help the brain mitigate those challenges.”
WHAT ARE BRAIN WAVES?
We all have brain waves that go from very slow waves (deep sleep) to very fast waves (excited or scared) and everything in between (daydreaming, relaxed, focused, learning). They all have a job to do, the main places they reside (where we should find them the strongest), and an amount relative to one another. When any or all of these are “off” from what is normal for a person’s age then it typically points to problems. Our initial evaluation, which we call a baseline, gives us insight into what these problems might be.
Controlling Games with your Brain
We put those same sensors and ear clips on that we did for the baseline and you play a game with your brain. Its as simple as that! The games reward the brain for making changes by giving points and making sounds. This tells the brain “good job!”. The brain then rewards itself for meeting the challenge. Eventually the brain maintains the changes without the need for the game.
DURING THIS PROCESS
During this process you are simply sitting still and relaxed while your brain is hard at work. The brain loves puzzles and challenges. It thrives on rewards and, during training it gets rewards when it meets the goals we’ve set. That means the more rewards it gets the more it is practicing being in a more regulated state. And with practice comes brain change. You may have heard the saying, “neurons that fire together wire together.” That means as the brain sends messages it creates pathways that become stronger over time– think Interstate versus tracks in a field.
But, I have questions!
HOW DO I MAKE THE GAME “GO”?
It can seem odd at first, because the brain and the mind are different. The brain is taking care of the things you don’t have to think about while the mind is what you are aware of, like your thoughts and feelings. This means you can’t make the game work by thinking a certain thought. Instead, the most helpful thing to do is stay relaxed while remaining focused and aware, basically getting out of your brain’s way.
What is the clinician’s role during NF?
Before each training we will review any changes, good or bad, that you experienced and make changes to our plan if needed. We can also decide to change something during the training if it is warranted. Being able to makes changes before and during training helps clients meet their goals sooner.
Sometimes during the training we will “coach” you, especially if we notice muscle tension, fatigue or lost focus. These are generally simple comments to help you relax or regain your focus.
Following training some people will go on to mind-body work or talk therapy with the remainder of their time while others choose to leave as soon as training is over.
How will I feel afterward?
You may feel tired, after all this is a workout! This side effect usually goes away quickly, often in a matter of minutes. Some people experience headaches, most typically when there is a head injury history.
For a few people their symptoms will get worse. This is a very temporary condition. It often abates in less than a day and seldom occurs more than once. Believe it or not, an “abreaction” gives the therapist a lot of information to make changes that will get you to “done” faster.
Changes are noticed between 3-15 sessions. But getting to “done” can be anywhere from 20-100 sessions.
How quickly does it work?
The variation depends on age and complexity. Think of it as a continuum: on the shortest end is an adult who is very aware of themselves who has one main issue and on the farthest end is a child, quite unaware of themselves with complex, developmental issues.
Why the huge span?
That’s up to you. The brain generally only needs one rest cycle (overnight) between trainings unless there is a brain injury. So if your schedule allows training 2-3 days a week then change comes quicker. However, if you can only come once a week the brain will still make the changes, you just need to be patient with the process.
How often do I need to come?
The changes are subtle at first. Think dimmer switch not light switch. Changes will be gradual. Sleep is often the first thing that improves, even if that isn’t something we are working on.
In children especially, look for changes in duration, frequency, or intensity of behaviors. If they exploded in anger several times a week prior to training you might find they still explode but less frequently. Or you might notice that they still explode but it is done sooner or isn’t quite as intense. The changes will build on themselves over time, but knowing that it begins subtly helps you notice and spur the changes on.
In adults and more aware children/teens begin to notice improved focus, clearer thinking and a greater frustration tolerance.