As a teen therapist and being promoted to Executive Director for a residential treatment center (RTC), I knew there was more we could be doing. We worked with girls ages 12-17 who had experienced serious trauma and PTSD from:
An average length of stay in the residential treatment center was 5 months. Talk therapy for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment required more than 5 months. I wanted an approach that could help the girls see results in processing traumatic incidences within the 5 months they were with us.
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was once such approach for trauma therapy and PTSD treatment. EMDR is supported by research and is shown to be effective. In fact, the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration use EMDR for our veterans returning from war.
Through EMDR, you can see results in as few as 8-12 sessions. In the therapy world , this is quick. And this meant we could accomplish much within the 5 months we worked with our girls at the RTC. I sent our clinical team to be trained in EMDR and was trained myself.
In my research into trauma treatment, I read Bessel van der Kolk’s book, "The Body Keep's the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma." In this book Bessel, who is a leading authority on trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, had a section on the effectiveness of neurofeedback.
Not only is neurofeedback effective according to Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D. but it is can also produce significant results in less time than traditional talk therapy.
(For the purposes of this post, I won't go into detail of what neurofeedback is. For a deeper dive into what neurofeedback is, you can visit our website at www.katyteenandfamilycounseling.com and read more on our Neurofeedback service page.)
Neurofeedback can be an effective approach to trauma therapy and PTSD treatment. The Department of Defense and the Veteran's Administration also use neurofeedback for veterans returning from combat. Neurofeedback can produce result in about a 3-4 month span of time.
Neurofeedback is not talk therapy but rather brain training. This can be especially helpful for teens, young adults, and adults who aren't ready to talk about their trauma. Neurofeedback targets the origin of the emotional or behavioral struggle. The origin of these struggles is biological in nature and stems directly from the brain.
There is an art and a science to talk therapy. Therapist should utilize those therapy approaches that are supported by research (science). Being trained in these approaches, each therapists applies the approach in a way that is different and unique to them (the art). In talk therapy, the 'art' of the therapist plays the major role in the healing process.
With neurofeedback, we are using sophisticated software to record how your brain is performing. We then compare that recording, or brain map, to a normative data base of 'normal' brain maps. The difference between the two is what we train to.
While there is some 'art' in neurofeedback in creating and interpreting the brain map and creating the training protocol, neurofeedback is largely science and less art.
We can, with high precision, identify the regions of the brain that are under or over performing creating the symptoms you are experiencing. With that information, we can train your brain to perform without those symptoms.
Neurofeedback provides training for the brain helps the brain learn to perform in a way that helps to manage or resolve the emotional or behavioral challenges.
EMDR & Neurofeedback Effectively Treats More Than Trauma & PTSD
EMDR and neurofeedback often works quicker than traditional talk therapy in adults. For teens and young adults, EMDR and neurofeedback often works even quicker than with adults.
I find a higher success rate when using EMDR than with traditional talk therapy. With neurofeedback, I find an even higher rate of success than with EMDR. With neurofeedback, it has been effective with over 85%-90% of those that I have used neurofeedback with. Those are pretty good numbers!
Because of this, both EMDR and neurofeedback are often my two most used therapy approaches I use in teen therapy and counseling young adults.
Out of all the therapy approaches that I use, neurofeedback is by far my go to approach in helping teens, young adults, and adults overcome struggles in their lives.
Neurofeedback for Teens, Young Adults, & Adults
There are two reasons why I believe I have seen high success in using neurofeedback with teens, young adults, and adults:
Neurofeedback historically has been shown to be highly effective.
Undergoing training to become Board Certified in Neurofeedback (BCN) through the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA).
With neurofeedback, a therapist can use this approach without Board Certification in Neurofeedback training. To me, that is a little scary. When we are talking about brain training, I would prefer someone Board Certified than uncertified.
BCIA is the main certifying body nationally and internationally for bio and neurofeedback. To be Board Certified in Neurofeedback (BCN) through BCIA, a licensed therapist must complete the following:
A candidate must take and pass a neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, or physiological psychology course(s). This course provides a sound basis for the brain and how it functions.
This course must be taken from a regionally accredited academic institution or a BCIA-approved provider.
2. Didactic Education to Learn the Science, History, and Theory of Neurofeedback
A candidate must take part in a 36-hour didactic education program specifically covering all topics as listed in the BCIA Blueprint of Knowledge. This program must be taken from a BCIA-accredited training program.
3. Take and Pass a Comprehensive Neurofeedback Exam
The comprehensive exam consists of approximately 100 multiple-choice items with only one correct answer.
4. Mentoring - Practical Skills Training
A candidate is required to spend 25 contact hours (2 must be face to face) with a BCIA-approved mentor to learn to apply the clinical neurofeedback skills through the review of:
10 sessions of neurofeedback where you are the client
100 patient/client neurofeedback sessions with clients
10 case study presentations with a BCIA authorized mentor
My Experience in Neurofeedback With Clients
I was fortunate to have a great mentor who was the past President of the International Society for Neuroregulation & Research (ISNR). Along with the other BCIA requirements, the mentoring was invaluable in my work with clients using neurofeedback.
In using neurofeedback training, I have worked with clients who have struggled with the following:
Each of the teens, young adults, or adults I have worked with have reported improvement in the symptoms we were targeting. I recently provided neurofeedback therapy for a teen who experience social anxiety and depression related to the anxiety.
With permission from the teen and his family, they have allowed me to share a bit about his experience. The name will be changed to protect confidentiality.
Starting Neurofeedback With Bart
Bart and his family sought out talk therapy to help Bart with his struggle with teen depression. As we started talk therapy and identified the underpinnings of the depression, it became clear that the social anxiety was creating the depressive symptoms.
Several sessions into talk therapy, I talked with Bart about neurofeedback and explained that he would be a great candidate. Bart was on board and I talked with Bart and his parents and the decision was made to start neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback requires the teen, young adult, or adult to participate in neurofeedback training at least twice weekly. Bart attended each of his neurofeedback training sessions religiously. On average, neurofeedback takes around 40 sessions to be effective.
Around session 15, Bart started reporting his anxiety improving. As his anxiety was improving, he also reported his depression lifting. It was also a visible change as his personality seemed brighter, more energetic, and more talkative.
Bart, the Mall, & Riding the Wave
Due to Bart's anxiety, it was hard for him to do things like go to the mall on his own without experiencing increased anxiety. He had a group of friends that he would go to the mall with. Around session 18, I started the session asking Bart how his week has been.
Bart responded by saying with a smile, "I went to the mall." Thinking he went with his friends, I asked, "Who did you go with?" Bart had a big smile on his face and his response was, "I went by myself." This was HUGE! I was so excited for Bart and could tell how excited he was to report this.
I asked Bart the last time he had done gone to the mall by himself and he said it had been a long time. I then asked him the difference in his anxiety from the last time he went to the mall and this time. His response was, "Jason, I didn't have any anxiety this time." Awesome!
It was around session 20 where it was noticeable that Bart was losing weight. I commented on this and Bart stated that he decided to go on a diet. No one asked him to he just one day decided he wanted to eat better and lose some weight. Depressed people don't do this.
From session 15 up through the last session, session 34, Bart continued to report significant improvements in anxiety and depression. Towards the end of neurofeedback, Bart made a comment that I have taken and use with my other neurofeedback clients:
Regarding his anxiety, Bart commented, "I no loner sink -- I just ride the wave." In one sentence, this sums up the outcomes of successful therapy and neurofeedback too.
Neurofeedback didn't eliminate the anxiety but trained the brain to perform in a way that it took away the major symptoms. This freed up Bart to manage the anxiety which frees him up to live his fullest life living up to his fullest potential.
Neurofeedback for Teens, Young Adults, & Adults: Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Bart's experience is not unique. At the same time Bart was doing neurofeedback, another client started. This client also struggled in similar ways and was experiencing similar improvements in line with and on the same timeline as Bart.
At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our BCIA neurofeedback professional can help you overcome depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, struggles related to Asperger's, and other difficulties.
If you are a teen, young adult, or an adult no longer in the young adult category, don't put off getting help. Relief and freedom from emotional and behavioral challenges are right around the corner through neurofeedback.
Our Katy, Tx office is conveniently located just off of 99 and I-10. We are about 4 blocks behind the Academy Sports.
If you are ready to start experiencing relief and freedom through neurofeedback, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Speak with our BCIA Neurofeedback Professional
Start neurofeedback today and experience the relief and freedom from emotional or behavioral struggles
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we use therapy and counseling approaches that are supported by research. These approaches have been shown to work in the shortest amount of time.
We also offer the following therapy and counseling services:
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker and a BCIA Neurofeedback Professional. He specializes in neurofeedback, teen therapy, family counseling, and counseling young adults. He has provided therapy to teens, families, and young adults since 2003.