Neurofeedback for Trauma Therapy & PTSD Treatment in Katy, Texas & Houston
Has your teen gone from a happy and outgoing teen to a sad and withdrawn teen seemingly overnight?
Has your teen gone from mild tempered to having frequent anger outbursts, even over small things, without apparent reason?
Have you noticed your teen suddenly having a difficult time focusing and concentrating and it's starting to impacts their grades?
Is your teen finding it difficult to get or stay asleep at night? Do they talk to you about recent nightmares that they are having?
Is your teen spending less time with friends and family than they used to or changed their group of friends altogether?
Is your teen, who regularly attends church, now becoming more resistant in attending?
Understanding Teen Trauma
As parents, none of us wishes for our teen to go through a traumatic experience. We know life is full of ups and downs and we would like to spare as much of the 'downs' as possible.
When thinking about trauma, we usually think of the big things like abuse, neglect, veterans experiencing combat, etc. In our culture, this tends to define what trauma is and is not. These more pronounced traumatic experiences become the litmus test by which we measure other, potentially traumatic experiences.
Trauma Clarified: Physical Trauma
To help illustrate and clarify the definition of trauma, it can be helpful to compare 'physical' trauma to 'psychological' trauma. For example:
A person who has been in a car accident which resulted in the person being paralyzed we would agree experienced a physical trauma. Their body has become overwhelmed by a physical injury and can no longer function as it used to.
Is this severity of physical trauma the litmus test we use to define physical trauma?
How about the teen athlete who experiences a sprained ankle during a volleyball or soccer game? How about a teen athlete in a football or basket ball game who tears their ACL? These are situations where their physical injury has overwhelmed the body in it's ability to function normally.
When we look at physical trauma, we would agree that both the car accident and the sports injuries are physical traumas just of varying severities.
Trauma Clarified: Psychological Trauma
Now, let's take a look at psychological trauma:
In Texas, more than 4 children die from abuse or neglect on average every week. The are 184 children that are confirmed victims daily. And, more than 7 children are maltreated every hour.
For purposes of this illustration, this would be the psychological equivalent to the car accident. Abuse and neglect can overwhelm the teen's (or child's) psychological system. This can cause the mind and the brain's ability to not function as it normally would. As a result, the teen's emotional/behavioral regulation and control are affected.
Other teens who have not experienced abuse or neglect can also experience trauma. The teen who loses a parent to disease. The teen who is bullied. The teen who is ostracized from their peer group. The teen who breaks up with their first love or the teen who loses their favorite pet.
While these experiences do not rise to the level of abuse or neglect, they may be the psychological equivalent to a teen athletes’ sports injury. This type of trauma is likely to not have the same psychological life impact that abuse neglect may have. Yet, it can still overwhelm the teen's ability to function normally.
A Teen's Psychological Maturity: Psychosocial & Physiological Development
We sometimes see teens as 'mini adult' when in reality they are more like 'bigger children'. The teen's brain and body are in a state or rapid development. A teen has not learned the emotional and behavioral coping skills that adults have learned. Adults have learned these skills through repetition and experiencing situations that require us to practice these skills.
As parents, our hearts ache when our teen's heart aches. As adults, we know that breaking up with your first love is almost a rite of passage. The pain will fade and life will go on. Yet, to the teen, it can be earthshattering. This experience may be the first time they have had to cope with the pain of a broken heart.
Our hearts ache as adults when we lose a pet. To a teen, this pet may have been a significant source of comfort coming home each day and viewed as a significant loss.
As an adult, we have learned how to face bullies in various environments. As adults, the opinion of peers carries with it much less meaning than for a teen.
To a teen, the opinion of their peers is often the ONLY thing that matters. Much of a teen's sense of confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem comes from their peer group. To be ostracized by their peer group can have a profound psychological impact on the teen.
These experiences can cause the teen's psychological system to be overwhelmed. Some teens can navigate these tricky life experiences. These teens may be depressed or anxious for a period of time but they tend to rebound.
Yet, some teens after having these experiences seem to continue to struggle. Whether it be due to other events occurring in their life at the time combined with these traumatic situations, we find some teens not rebounding as others would.
Time has passed and things do not seem to be getting better. They continue to feel sad or anxious and it seems to be getting worse. You are seeing your once happy and high achieving teen struggle to maintain their grades, friends, and a positive sense of self.
If this is the case and you have a teen who matches this description, their psychological system may be overwhelmed. If this is the case, it may be beneficial for your teen to see a therapist trained in treating trauma.
Teen Trauma and PTSD
Taking the examples from above, the physical trauma of the car accident or the psychological trauma of abuse and neglect, can often result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a serious, anxiety related, psychological struggle. Symptoms of PTSD can impact a teen in a way that seriously impacts their ability to function normally on a day to day basis.
And the examples of the teen athlete’s sports injury is akin to teen trauma. It may not rise to the level of PTSD but still can have a serious impact to the teens ability to function normally on a day to day basis.
Symptoms of teen trauma may not be as pronounced as symptoms of PTSD. Yet, left untreated, they could create patterns of behavior that develop into more serious issues over time.
Symptoms of PTSD
We all respond differently to traumatic events. Events that are dangerous that we have experienced, or witnessed others experience, may create PTSD symptoms. Events such as:
A violent assault on self or witnessing an assault on another
Physical or sexual abuse
Act of violence such as school shootings or neighborhood shootings
Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, etc.
Symptoms of PTSD generally start within 3 months of the traumatic event. Symptoms must last longer than 1 month and troubling enough to interfere with your teen's daily functioning. Depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and panic attacks cam result.
Symptoms of PTSD in teens may include:
Reliving the event. Teens with PTSD may experience flashbacks where they may feel they are back in the traumatic event. Nightmares of the event or disturbing mental images about the trauma during the day may occur.
Avoiding people, places, and things that remind them about the traumatic event. Teens with PTSD may avoid those things that may bring back memories or remind them of the traumatic event. It is not uncommon for teens with PTSD to avoid talking about the event.
Emotional numbing. Teens who have experienced a traumatic event may feel detached. They may have a negativistic view on life and lack positive emotions. They may find themselves having difficulty trusting people or situations.
Anxiety and panic attacks. Teens who have PTSD may regularly feel nervous, irritable, jumpy, and startle easy.
If you believe your teen may be experiencing symptoms of PTSD, seeing a teen therapist who specializes in teen trauma can help. Teens can experience and respond differently to PTSD than adults. It's important that you find a teen therapist who has the expertise with teens, trauma, and PTSD treatment.
Fortunately, there are several approaches in PTSD treatment. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Trauma Focused - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Neurofeedback are 3 approaches supported by research for teens. This means, that there is an approach that can be effective for your teen to help in their PTSD treatment!
How Neurofeedback for Trauma Therapy and PTSD Treatment Can Help
Do you have a teen who has experienced trauma or if affected by PTSD?
Have you tried talk therapy and it hasn't had the results you were looking for? You may have tried a combination of talk therapy and medication still without the results you were hoping for.
Is your teen resistant to going to therapy as they can't talk about the trauma that they have experienced or the symptoms of PTSD?
Reasons Katy Teen & Family Counseling Began Using Neurofeedback
When starting Katy Teen & Family Counseling, the owner and Lead Clinician, Jason Drake, LCSW-S, was also overseeing 3 Residential Treatment Programs (RTC). These RTCs provide intensive therapy for girls ages 11-17. The girls at the RTCs had been victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic minor sex trafficking and/or neglect.
Jason was exploring options for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment that are supported by research. He was also looking for those approaches that were effective in the shortest amount of time. The girls at the RTCs were only there for 5-6 months. Traditional talk therapy with complex, developmental trauma can take a year or longer.
He learned about Neurofeedback while reading a book by one of the premier experts on teen trauma and PTSD, Bessel van der Kolk M.D. The book is, "The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma."
He went on to read form another renowned expert in teen trauma and PTSD, "Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Developmental Trauma: Calming the Fear-Driven Brain." The author of this book is Sebern F. Fisher.
Jason, along with 3 other teen therapists from one of the RTCs sought to become certified in neurofeedback. Through BCIA, they underwent rigorous training to become BCIA neurofeedback professionals.
Jason provided neurofeedback to the girls at the RTC. In providing neurofeedback for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, he was able to see significant changes in symptoms in the teen girls within a three month period of time. The relief experienced by the girls at the RTC and in a relatively short amount of time, convinced Jason of the effectiveness of neurofeedback.
Jason Drake, LCSW, BCIA Neurofeedback Professional, now offers this effective approach at Katy Teen & Family Counseling. He has also now transitioned full time to Katy Teen & Family Counseling and continues to provide neurofeedback as a contract therapist for the girls at the RTC.
Neurofeedback: A Powerful Tool for Trauma Therapy and PTSD Treatment
Neurofeedback is an approach to trauma therapy and PTSD treatment that is supported by research. It has been found to be effective, so much so, that the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Administration (VA) also use neurofeedback.
Veterans who fight for our freedoms upon returning home from the front lines often experience PTSD. Neurofeedback has helped countless numbers of hero's returning from the rigors of war recover form the affects of PTSD.
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, the sophisticated software we use is also used by the DoD/VA in treating their veterans. Neuroguide provides us access to the same neurofeedback protocols for PTSD treatment through network and symptom training that the DoD/VA use. The DOD/VAA has found neurofeedback effective for their veterans. Katy Teen & Family Counseling has found it effective for the teens we see. As such, neurofeedback for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment has shown to be a powerful tool for teen trauma therapy and PTSD.
What Does Neurofeedback Do?
Neurofeedback has been in use for approximately the last 50 years. It is an approach that is supported by research and has shown to be effective.
Neurofeedback is not talk therapy. Neurofeedback treats the problem at the source -- the brain. It is a non-invasive, comfortable, and state of the art approach in teen trauma therapy and PTSD treatment.
Neurofeedback uses sophisticated software to record the brains performance. This is done by placing a cap with sensors or individual sensors on the teens head. The cap resembles a swimmers cap but this swimmer's cap has 19 sensors embedded in the cap.
The sensors pick up the brain's communication through the electrical signals that the brain uses to communicate. The software records how the brain is performing and creates a brain map. The brain map identifies areas of the brain that are under performing, over performing, and even peak performing.
We link the teen's symptoms related to trauma or PTSD to the recorded brain's performance and create a training program uniquely tailored to the way your teen's brain performs.
How do you Train the Brain?
Once we have recorded how your teen's brain performs and have a brain map, a training protocol is developed. The training protocol will take into account the symptoms your teen is reporting based on their trauma or PTSD symptoms. We will then analyze the brain map and link those symptoms with regions of the brain that correlate with those symptoms.
We use sophisticated, state of the art software that provides the brain rewards for performing as a brain would without trauma or PTSD symptoms.
We use software that resembles a video game. Using the cap to measure real time performance, when your teen's brain is performing as a teen without trauma or PTSD symptoms, your brain can control the avatar on the screen. This provides the brain a 'reward'. each time the avatar is able to be controlled.
Sessions last anywhere from 15 minutes to 40 minutes. It is necessary to provide training 2 to 4 times a week. The brain receives 100+ rewards per session. Over 40 sessions this results in thousands or repetitive rewards for the brain for performing without symptoms of trauma or PTSD. As the brain is rewarded, it starts to shift it's performance to the performance of a brain without symptoms thus alleviating or eliminating the symptoms altogether.
Through the same principles, we use software that uses movies or tv series. We use the cap for real time feedback on the brains performance. When the teen's brain is performing like a brain without trauma or PTSD symptoms, the picture and sound come on. When the teen's brain is not performing like a brain without symptoms, the picture and sound fade away.
The brain seeks out novelty and reward. Through this process, we are able to achieve long term gains by treating the source of the symptoms -- the brain.
Trauma Therapy & PTSD Treatment Through Neurofeedback
Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Teens who have experienced trauma and those teens who have PTSD symptoms can attest to the debilitating effects. Often, teens who have experienced trauma or have symptoms of PTSD are hesitant to go to therapy. It can be challenging to talk about the trauma they experienced. The thought of sharing that with someone they don't know can feel overwhelming even if that person is trained to help them overcome the impact of trauma.
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we offer an approach trauma therapy and PTSD treatment that is safe, non-invasive, and relaxing. Neurofeedback for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment can help.
If you believe your teen could benefit from neurofeedback and you would like to schedule an appointment, you can follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with our compassionate neurofeedback professional
Take the first step in helping your teen regain their happy, healthy, and high achieving lives by overcoming the effects of trauma.
Katy Teen & Family Counseling Also Provides the Following Services
While we provide neurofeedback for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we also provide the following therapeutic services:
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR therapy) For:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) For:
Experts in Trauma & PTSD: Current Research in Efficacy of Neurofeedback
Neurofeedback for teen trauma & PTSD can make the difference in your teen's life. Researchers have been studying treatment approaches for trauma & PTSD since the 1960's. Neurofeedback has gained attention due to it's effectiveness, non-invasive nature of the treatment, and being able to treat trauma & PTSD with or without medication.
Below are several research articles that have been conducted into the effectiveness of neurofeedback for trauma & PTSD:
The Impact of Neurofeedback Training on Children With Developmental Trauma: A Randomized Controlled Study.
Developmental trauma or chronic early childhood exposure to abuse and neglect by caregivers has been shown to have a long-lasting pervasive impact on mental and neural development, including problems with attention, impulse control, self-regulation, and executive functioning. Its long-term effects are arguably the costliest public health challenge in the United States. Children with developmental trauma rarely have a satisfactory response to currently available evidence-based psychotherapeutic and pharmacological treatments.
This pilot study demonstrated that 24 sessions of NFT significantly decreased PTSD symptoms, internalizing, externalizing, other behavioral and emotional symptoms, and significantly improved the executive functioning of children aged 6–13 years with severe histories of abuse and neglect who had not significantly benefited from any previous therapy.
NFT offers the possibility to improve learning, enhance self-efficacy, and develop better social relationships in this hitherto largely treatment-resistant population.
Rogel, A., Loomis, A. M., Hamlin, E., Hodgdon, H., Spinazzola, J., & van der Kolk, B. (2020). The impact of neurofeedback training on children with developmental trauma: A randomized controlled study. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(8), 918–929.
A Randomized Controlled Study of Neurofeedback for Chronic PTSD
Brain/Computer Interaction (BCI) devices (EEG neurofeedback) are designed to alter neural signals and, thereby, mental activity. This study was a randomized, controlled trial of a BCI, EEG neurofeedback training (NF), in patients with chronic PTSD to explore the capacity of NF to reduce PTSD symptoms and increase affect regulation capacities.
Compared with the control group NF produced significant PTSD symptom improvement in individuals with chronic PTSD, as well as in affect regulation capacities. NF deserves further investigation for its potential to ameliorate PTSD and to improve affect regulation, and to clarify its mechanisms of action.
van der Kolk, B. A., Hodgdon, H., Gapen, M., Musicaro, R., Suvak, M. K., Hamlin, E., & Spinazzola, J. (2016). A randomized controlled study of neurofeedback for chronic PTSD. PLoS ONE, 11(12), Article e0166752.
The Neurobiology of Emotion Regulation in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder:
Amygdala own regulation via Real-Time fMRI Neurofeedback
These results support the hypothesis that neural functioning among patients with PTSD is characterized by attenuated prefrontal inhibition on the limbic system, resulting in emotional dysregulation, and suggests that amygdala neurofeedback may not only be therapeutic for this patient group but may also be used as an adjunctive future treatment.
Ruth A. Lanius. The neurobiology of emotion regulation in posttraumatic stress disorder: Amygdala downregulation via real‐time fMRI neurofeedback. Human Brain Mapping, Volume 38, Issue 1, January, 2017.