What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback. The body has a limited capacity to sense information coming from inside itself. However, if you monitor any biological process, amplify it, and feed it back to the brain, your brain can change it. Neurofeedback is the monitoring of brain waves with the goal of changing the patterns that cause problems. It is the modern application of the EEG (electroencephalogram) machine.
Are all neurofeedback systems and outcomes the same?
Not at all. There are 10 different ways to conduct neurofeedback, and 12 total if you count HEG (hemoencephalography). They include those based on the QEEG, LORETA, MiniQ (ClinicalQ, MindMap, TLC map, etc), and/or clinical judgment. There are a variety of competing companies and training programs on the market. Each amplifier is different and each software is different. The amount of training required to operate the equipment varies significantly, with some taking years to master. The skill and education level of the practitioner varies widely as, for the moment, this specialty is not regulated. Due to this, outcomes vary tremendously. While some people benefit to such an extent that it appears miraculous, others see no benefit at all. In rare cases some even end up worse than when they started. At Santa Barbara Brain Fitness, all practitioners are Board Certified in Neurofeedback by BCIA, which is the oldest and most recognized accreditation association in this field.
Why did you choose to use NeurOptimal?
Since 2001, Dr. Staso has owned and operated 5 different neurofeedback systems, 2 HEG units, and one QEEG acquisition unit. The system he currently prefers the most is NeurOptimal. While he still uses other equipment when indicated, he finds NeurOptimal to produce the smoothest, fastest, safest, and consistent results. NeurOptimal does not produce adverse effects like some neurofeedback units occasionally do.
Why kind of success rate have you had?
In general, our success rate is high. It depends a lot on what symptoms are being targeted. Common ADHD and anxiety typically start showing a response within the first 10 sessions. For conditions like essential tremor, we have had limited success. Neurofeedback does not resolve all conditions that people have, and, there are those who simply do not respond. We do have samples of testimonials that you can read. You can find more at www.danstaso.com.
How does neurofeedback work?
Each neurofeedback session is pretty much the same each time. We place sensors on your scalp, earbuds in your ears, and then ask you to listen to some music and, if you like, watch the screen for 33 minutes, while a windows media visual display constantly changes its patterns. The software is tracking your EEG and sending back interruptions to the music based on the unique type of filtering and targeting that is only available in NeurOptimal. When your brain shows turbulence, there is an interrupt in the music. This emergent brain pattern may be a sign of habitual stress or other state changes that demand additional energy to sustain. Since your brain prefers to use energy efficiently, it's very interested in these interrupts even when you can't consciously hear them. Decreasing the habitual stress response creates calmness and increases the ability to return to the present moment. There become fewer and fewer episodes of recycling the past. This allows you to see and respond to what is actually happening in your life rather than what is superimposed upon it by the past. Also, as the brain gets calmer, the parasympathetic system becomes more dominant, allowing the body to move into a growth and repair cycle.
How can I expect to feel after a session?
If you are sleep deprived, then NeurOptimal may leave you feeling groggy, sedated, or sleepy. It’s a good sign that the neurofeedback is working. Allow yourself to take a nap and you should be more alert afterwards. In general, most of my clients notice an increase in energy levels and clarity of thought later that day.
How many sessions will I need?
We recommend 20-30 sessions, however, most clients report noticing positive changes within the first 6 visits. We recommend initially scheduling twice weekly, but once a week will be fine for most. If you are not getting results by the 12th session, we will reassess and offer ideas on what else to add to neurofeedback that may expedite success.
Does neurofeedback last?
Yes. Once the brain learns how to stay in the present and keep energy output in the right zone, it remembers it. However, as the brain ages, it begins to lose it capacity to regulate itself as efficiently. We encourage clients to return once a year for 2-3 visits to keep the brain sharp.
Can a person be shocked?
No. Neurofeedback only collects information. Nothing is ever put into the brain. Sensors are placed on the scalp to collect the normally occurring electrical brainwave activity. These small electrical measurements are transformed into sound and visual feedback by computer software and hardware. The measurements cause absolutely no discomfort.
Can neurofeedback be started while on medication?
Yes. Neurofeedback is commonly used with traditional therapies and medication. Your prescribing physician should be made aware of neurofeedback training because it can result in reduced prescription needs. As the brain becomes more capable of self-regulation, it is common to require less medication.
How much does neurofeedback cost?
Affordable neurofeedback is our commitment. The fee for the initial assessment and training is $140. This includes an intake screening to get a list of your concerns and how they adversely affect your life. Our standard rate for additional neurofeedback sessions are $140 per session, however, we offer packaged sessions that can reduce the cost. We make an effort to arrange a program to match a person’s monthly budget. Its possible to offer a sliding fee when appropriate.
Does insurance cover neurofeedback?
No. By the late 1990's most insurance companies were covering neurofeedback. It was assumed that the psychologist was the expert and knew best what procedures to use for any given client. However, things have gradually changed and no insurance company will now reimburse for neurofeedback. As such, I cannot apply your insurance coverage to bill for this.
Do you still practice talk therapy?
Yes. Some people come to see us because 100% of their problem is psychological and they respond very well to talk therapy. Our approach is quite varied and we customize what we do depending on the nature of the presenting problem. Since we have received extensive training in a variety of modalities, we might use EMDR, Dual-Brain Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, or simply Supportive Therapy to achieve results. Some clients, however, have already tried talk therapy and medications with minimal or no results. This may be due to a brain imbalance that can be better remediated with neurofeedback.
Do you conduct QEEG brain mapping?
Yes, we have the capacity to do this here. On request we can collect 19 channels of data of your EEG. We use NeuroGuide database to produce a QEEG.
What is deep states training, also known as Alpha-Theta Training?
This is a method that Dr. Staso has been using since 1991 initially for alcoholism, and later for resolving deep psychological issues. Many 28-day residential recovery programs have added this as an adjunct to their treatment protocols. It’s being widely used for PTSD as well.
Is there anything you can suggest for me to do so that I improve my training sessions?
Don’t skip breakfast or be hungry for lunch when you arrive. Eat a healthy protein meal before and after sessions. Try and exercise 45 minutes daily, alternating between brisk walking, jogging, or swimming and resistance training. Try to sleep a full 8 hours before a session. Don’t drink alcohol the night before. In general, try and eat a Mediterranian type diet. If possible, avoid all refined sugars and aspartame. Try and eat less meat, and if you do, consume grass fed cow. Take basic nutritional supplements to maintain a healthy body and brain and include Omega 3s. Often, we recommend using the Alpha-Stim AID to use daily in between sessions.
Why do you offer the Alpha-Stim AID?
The Alpha Stim AID has consistently been helpful for 75% of our clients who have depression, anxiety, or insomnia. Its something that can be used daily in the comfort of your home. It’s relaxing and very easy to use.
What about nutritional supplements? Do you recommend them?
Yes, we recommend TrueHope EMPower Plus for brain support. This product currently has 31 published research studies that demonstrate its usefulness in reducing symptoms of depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.
Are there other areas that a person can benefit?
- Reduction of PMS symptoms
- Reduction of post-menopausal hot flashes
- Reduction in symptoms of head injury
- Increased reading speed and comprehension
- Improvement of focus and attention
- Overall stress reduction
- Reduction in symptoms of fibromyalgia
- Reduction or elimination of migraine headaches
- Reduction in symptoms of RSD
- Reduction of high blood pressure
- Increase in overall feelings of well-being and happiness
- Reduction in food cravings
Reduction or elimination of the need for psychotropic medication