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, Z-score, 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.
Which system do you use?
Dr. Staso currently uses Thought Technology Biograph, one the of the oldest and most respected companies in the field of neurofeedback and biofeedback. For brain mapping, he uses the ClinicalQ, based on the research of Canadian psychologist, Paul Swingle, PhD. Results from the brain map are compared to a clinical database of 15oo subjects. Dr. Staso can then design a customized protocol for each of his clients. When appropriate, full QEEG brain maps are recommended to augment the ClinicalQ.
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. Dr. Staso will place one or two sensors on your scalp and two on your earlobes. Dr. Staso sometimes has you watch an animation that moves according to how successful you are at changing your brainwaves. Or you might watch a movie whose screen becomes larger or smaller depending on how well you modify your brain waves. You are being reinforced for brain behaviors such as reducing theta waves, increasing alpha waves, or decreasing theta/beta ration, as examples. It all depends on what Dr. Staso finds from the brain mapping.
How can I expect to feel after a session?
Most people notice very little immediately after a session. Some might feel a bit tired while some might feel a bit wired. These effects wear off after a few hours. Over time, there will be a gradual change in how you feel and how well you focus.
How many sessions will I need?
We recommend 20-30 sessions, however, most clients report noticing positive changes within the first 6-10 visits. We recommend initially scheduling twice weekly for the first two weeks, then weekly after that. 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 brain mapping is training is $180. 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 Dr. Staso has received extensive training in a variety of modalities, he might use EMDR, 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, Dr. Staso has 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