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Neurofeedback Helps Trauma Patients Regulate Emotions

Caption: Pictured are For All Seasons’ therapists Carol Strootman, LCSW-C, Assistant Clinical Director and Certified Traumaplay Therapist; Jen Friedman, LMSW, Certified Trauma Play Therapist and Licensed Clinician; and Joseph Cox, LMSW, Clinical Therapist, Neurofeedback clinician.

 For All Seasons has been offering neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback that utilizes a person’s brain activity (EEG) as a tool for therapeutic intervention, for quite some time. Now, the agency has three clinicians in its Easton, Denton, and Chestertown offices who are trained to provide the treatment which can reduce the effects of many emotional and physical conditions without medication for people across the lifespan. The treatment is done in conjunction with psychotherapy to reduce compulsive behaviors and/or improve self-regulation.

‘’Neurofeedback helps measure arousal in the brain and helps stabilize heightened arousal levels, making clients more aware and cognizant and able to focus better. It can help the brain work more effectively,” comments Carol Strootman, LCSW-C, Assistant Clinical Director and Certified Traumaplay Therapist at For All Seasons who administers neurofeedback in the Denton and Chestertown offices.

“This type of therapy is very useful for people with a traumatic past and helps them learn to pause in stressful situations instead of reacting. Weekly sessions are normally 30 minutes long and are given 10 to 20 times to get lasting results. Some insurance companies reimburse for this therapy.”

In the neurofeedback process, the therapist helps the client identify four to five behaviors to address in the therapy. The client is connected to an EEG machine for the therapist to observe brain waves on the computer screen as the client plays certain computer games. The client gets a beep to reward certain behaviors in the game which helps him/her achieve better emotional regulation while playing the game. By playing repeated games, the brain creates new pathways leading to a reduction in mental health symptoms.

“Neurofeedback can also help treat depression, anxiety, and phobias. It can be another therapeutic modality to offer when other treatments may not be working or when clients are not making progress in talk therapy,” states Jen Friedman, LMSW, Certified Trauma Play Therapist and Licensed Clinician at For All Seasons.

“You can notice small differences after a few sessions and even greater differences after 10 sessions. People who do have great success with it do use it for tune-ups periodically to help them regulate their emotions.”

Strootman adds that neurofeedback helps get the brain in a better state to better accept talk therapy. She adds, “Neurofeedback helps the brain heal itself and process things differently. It also can help therapy to happen more efficiently.”

One client who came to the agency with serious PTSD sought out neurofeedback to help with all of her symptoms. She found the therapeutic modality to be particularly helpful in addressing her PTSD symptoms, including overcoming significant nightmares she was having.

“It helps take the noise away from the brain, similar to what medication can achieve, allowing the brain to be reflective and to receive new skills,” Friedman adds. This treatment modality is offered at For All Seasons Easton, Denton, and Chestertown offices with Strootman, Friedman, and Joseph Cox providing this service. Therapists consider the therapeutic modality for clients on a case-by-case basis and determine if the client is a good candidate for this therapy option in addition to talk therapy.

Treatment areas that use neurofeedback include complex trauma, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, addictions, and muscular tics. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) endorses neurofeedback in the treatment of ADHD. It is used across the life span most often in conjunction with psychotherapy.