Bessel Van Der Kolk, renowned trauma expert and author of the book, The Body Keeps the Score, dedicates a chapter to the power of neurofeedback in healing trauma.
He explains how trauma can change brain communication and patterns. These changes have lasting impacts on the brain, increasing hypervigilance and overwhelm, while decreasing a person’ ability to learn, pay attention, make decisions, and engage fully in their environment.
Van Der Kolk found in research with is own patients, that there was a significant decrease in trauma symptoms after a course of neurofeedback, as well as increased mental clarity and ability to regulate emotions. He found there was a 40% decrease of PTSD symptoms, and a 60% increase in executive functioning with traumatized children and adults after training.
He explained that neurofeedback had “…a marked effect…on executive functioning, the capacity to plan activities, to anticipate the consequences of one’s actions, to move easily between one task and another, and to feel in control over one’s emotions…To my knowledge no other treatment has achieved such marked improvement in executive functioning, which predicts how well a person will function in relationships, in school performance, and at work.”
When I use neurofeedback in my own practice, I commonly see dramatic changes in a client’s ability to reduce anxiety. Client’s often tell me that they have more ability to name, think about, and have distance from intense emotions, rather than automatically reacting to them. People frequently tell me that they have more clarity, experience positive changes in their relationships, have insight into long standing problems, and have less “noise” that makes it difficult to be fully present.
Kathy is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, Texas.
360 Counseling is her private practice.