Why as a Talk Therapist, I'm Moving to Primarily Providing Neurofeedback
In 2018, I was the Regional Executive Director overseeing three residential treatment programs (RTCs). These programs were for teen girls ages 12-17 who had experienced complex trauma and PTSD. Along with trauma and PTSD come things like:
Aggression Towards Others
Suicidal Thoughts & Intent
Up to this point, we were providing research supported therapy approaches for teen girls who had experienced trauma. Trauma Focused - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) was one of those approaches. A very effective approach but the only problem is that it takes time that we did not have.
The teen girls at the RTCs would stay with us on average for 6 months. To effectively resolve trauma and PTSD, TF-CBT can take a year or more. I needed therapy approaches that are supported by research that worked in the shortest amount of time.
The first approach I brought on board and had our therapists trained in was Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR). This proved to be a very effective, research supported therapy approach, that provided results in the 6 months we worked with the girls.
In researching effective therapy approaches that work in a short period of time, I came across neurofeedback. in 2019, I and three other team members began our journey in becoming Board Certified in Neurofeedback through the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA).
What I Found in Using Neurofeedback with Teenagers, Young Adults, & Adults
The first teenager that I used neurofeedback with was a 14-year-old girl in the RTC. From the age of 5 years old, she was sold into sex trafficking by her father. A very tough story of trauma and PTSD. But a very happy, resilient, teenage girl with a sharp intellect.
She had a difficult time sleeping at night. She would wake up with nightmares that would interrupt her sleep cycle. This led to teen depression which she identified as the major problem at that time. So, we started using neurofeedback for depression.
Around 10-12 sessions in, she had told me that she asked the psychiatrist if she could stop her sleep medication. The psychiatrist asked her why and she simply stated that she didn't need them any longer.
In neurofeedback, she told me that she was no longer having the nightmares and has been able to sleep throughout the night. She reported waking up happy and overall felt like her depression has lifted.
At this point, I was sold on neurofeedback! I began using neurofeedback in my private practice with teens and young adults. I have found it to be effective for moderate to significant gains 90%-95% of the time.
While I primarily work with teenagers and young adults, Amy Galpin, LPC-S at Katy Teen & Family Counseling also provides neurofeedback. She reports similar success with teens, young adults as well as with adults.
What Is the Reason Neurofeedback Sees a Higher Success Rate Than Traditional Talk Therapy?
Fist, let me say that talk therapy can be and is very effective for most challenges. With teenagers and young adults, when I work within the family system, I see a high rate of success. It simply may take a little longer depending on the different factors at play.
There are 3 reasons why as a therapist Board Certified in Neurofeedback, I believe neurofeedback is more effective.
1. The Training for Neurofeedback Therapists
When starting out on the neurofeedback training path, I was committed to receiving the best training I could in neurofeedback. There are therapist who do not receive this training and do a great job with neurofeedback. Yet, as an overachiever and recovering perfectionist, I wanted to ensure I had a strong foundation on which to practice neurofeedback.
The requirements for Board Certification through the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA) are rigorous. To be a neurofeedback therapist, you have to have a master's degree and License to practice as a therapist/counselor.
BCIA is the main certifying body nationally and internationally for neurofeedback therapists. Below are the training requirements in order to become Board Certified in Neurofeedback through BCIA:
A comprehensive course in neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, physiological psychology, or course(s) is required. This course needs to be from an accredited college, university, or other online program.
Didactic Education to Learn the Science, History, & Theory of Neurofeedback
A 36-hour didactic education program specifically covering all topics as listed in the BCIA Blueprint of Knowledge taken from a BCIA Accredited Didactic Training Programs.
Mentoring - Practical Skills Training
Mentoring can begin when the neurofeedback therapist can demonstrate some basic competence with equipment and is only the time spent reviewing the actual work as outlined by BCIA.
The neurofeedback therapist 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 self-regulation (the neurofeedback therapist is the client).
100 client sessions where you are running a complete session.
10 case study presentations which are full detailed client stories from intake and protocol selection/adjustment, through discharge.
The exam consists of approximately 100 multiple-choice items with only one correct answer. The exam covers the science, history, and theory of neurofeedback. Passing the exam shows that the neurofeedback therapist has the foundational knowledge to effectively provide neurofeedback.
It is important that when looking for a neurofeedback therapist, that they are either Board Certified in Neurofeedback OR that they have 3-5 years of experience in providing neurofeedback.
2. Neurofeedback Eliminates Variables That Sometimes Get in the Way in Traditional Talk Therapy
For traditional talk therapy to be effective, the therapist has to have experience in the area that the client is coming to therapy for. They need to provide therapy approaches that are supported by research and shown to be effective. There needs to be a level of trust and connection between the therapist and the client.
And there are responsibilities on the client's part too. The client first needs to commit to attending therapy regularly -- ESPECIALLY on those days that you may really not want to. The client needs to be open and honest in therapy. The client needs to have a level of motivation.
Sometimes in teen therapy, young adult counseling, family therapy, couples therapy or marriage counseling, there are barriers that can impact the ability for the therapist to help the client progress. Some of these barriers can include:
Lack of Motivation
Client's lack of insight into the problem
When a traditional talk therapist encounters these barriers, time needs to be spent on helping the client overcome these barriers. Until and unless the client can overcome them, progress is stalled as these barriers can take some time to learn to overcome.
Once the client and the teen therapist, young adult counselor, family therapist, couples counselor, or marriage therapist is able to help the client overcome those barriers, progress can be made.
In neurofeedback, the only requirement the client has it to:
Sit in a comfortable chair and watch a show
Stay awake but relaxed
Limit caffeine intake
Get 8 hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep a night
Eat a brain healthy diet
Those other variables do not come into play with neurofeedback. A client can come to neurofeedback with:
Lack of Motivation
Lack of Insight
Neurofeedback trains the source of the challenge which is the brain. It is not talk therapy but brain training. This, I believe, is one reason neurofeedback is so effective. The common barriers that interfere with talk therapy do not exist with neurofeedback.
3. Targeted Training at the Source of the Challenge
With the neurofeedback that we provide at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, the brain map is a central part of the success. In the first or second session with Jason Drake, LCSW-S, BCN, we will record the electrical signals from your brain. This will show us how efficient/inefficient your brain is performing.
This is a very NON-invasive approach that simply requires wearing a cap. This cap looks a lot like a swimmers cap. The difference in this cap is that it has 19 sensors in the cap that can record the electrical signals from the brain. Easy peasy!
Once we record the electrical signals of the brain, we create a brain map. This is a 2-D and a 3-D representation of your brain. In these maps, we see which regions of the brain are performing optimally or not performing optimally.
From here, the neurofeedback therapist creates a training protocol based on the symptoms you present with and the outcome of the brain map. Once the training protocol is created, we start training your brain to learn to perform optimally in those areas that may be struggling.
Traditional talk therapy is a "bottom-up" approach. It requires a talented teen therapist, young adult counselor, family therapist, couples therapist, or marriage counselor to explore what is creating the challenge. Once the therapist is able to identify the source and cause of the challenge, treatment can begin.
Neurofeedback is a "top-down" approach to therapy. It STARTS with the source or cause of the problem and begins treating that source or cause. Neurofeedback is able to identify, with great precision, what regions of the brain need improvements in performance and start from day one treating the cause.
What Can Neurofeedback Treat Effectively?
Neurofeedback therapy can help with a wide variety of not only emotional or behavioral challenges, but physical challenges as well. The ages that neurofeedback can help are ages 8-92. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we commonly work with clients ages 6 and above.
Below is a list of commonly treated challenges we have successfully treated with neurofeedback at Katy Teen & Family Counseling:
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Pulling it All Together
While I really enjoy providing talk therapy and find great success in talk therapy with teenagers and young adults, neurofeedback by far has been our most successful therapy approach. As a therapist, to see moderate to significant improvements in 90%-95% of our clients, there is no better feeling in the world.
Through neurofeedback, we have been a part of watching children, teenagers, young adults, and adults get their life back. We have seen challenges that have seemed unsurmountable be overcome.
To be an EFFECTIVE part of restoring hope, happiness, and connected family relationships is what it is all about for us therapists!
Neurofeedback Therapy for Children, Teens, Young Adults, & Adults: Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our neurofeedback therapists can help. Jason Drake, LCSW-S, BCN, is Board Certified in Neurofeedback. Amy Galpin, LPC-S has been providing neurofeedback since 2013. Together, they have helped many people at Katy Teen & Family Counseling overcome their obstacles.
If you find that you are struggling with an obstacle that is in your way of hope, happiness, and connected family relationships, neurofeedback might be right for you.
To start neurofeedback, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Talk with one of our neurofeedback therapists
Let our neurofeedback therapists help you and your family today
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide a variety of therapy approaches that are supported by research and shown to be effective. Some of the teen therapy and young adult counseling we offer are:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Group Therapy for Teens
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
To succeed in any relationship takes work. This is a common understanding that many of us have.
However, sometimes life will throw challenges at us that create situations that put strain on our marriage or relationship. It may be due to:
Choices and actions that have been made by one partner.
Financial downturn in the economy creating financial strain.
Feeling like you're growing apart.
Feeling like you don't have as much in common as you used to.
Whatever the reason may be, marriage counseling and couples therapy can help. Couples therapy and marriage counseling has also been found to work in less time than individual therapy can.
If you've worked hard for this relationship and find that there are now barriers in the way of maintaining a healthy relationship, contact us at Katy Teen & Family Counseling.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker - Supervisor (LCSW-S), Board Certified in Neurofeedback, EMDR trained, and a Certified Brain Health Professional through the Amen Clinics. He has provided therapy to teens, young adults, and families since 2003 and is the Owner & Lead Clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling.
He specializes in leading teams of high performing therapists who also specialize in teen therapy, counseling young adults, and family counseling.
Jason is also a leader in the field of teen, young adult, and family counseling providing coaching and technical assistance to teen Residential Treatment Centers across the country.
Jason is also a regular contributor to various magazines and publications lending his expertise to various mental health related topics. You can check these articles out on our "Featured Articles" service page on our website.
He has also been a guest on Fox 26 Houston and on a podcast, "Grow a Group Practice" with Alison Pidgeon.
If you are ready to start your counseling or neurofeedback journey, call, text, or email us today!