In late 2014, we launched a pilot neurofeedback training program as a response to the needs of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors with traumatic brain injury. In late 2015, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety were added to the program.
To the best of our knowledge, Fort Bend Women’s Center is the only agency offering neurofeedback training to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
What is neurofeedback training?
Neurofeedback training, also known as EEG biofeedback or neurotherapy, involves exercising and training the brain, much like working out at a health center exercises and trains our muscles.
How does it work?
The brain gives off electrical signals of different sizes and strengths. The neurofeedback training process uses the brain’s natural ability to restructure brainwaves into the healthy patterns needed for cognitive functioning and emotional self-regulation.
During training, sensors are placed on the scalp with conductive paste. Clients are then invited to relax and watch one of our many computer animation screens as their brainwaves are monitored. As the brain moves toward a healthier state the individual is rewarded by having the computer animation move and the music play. Through the use of operant conditioning, the brain is gradually trained to function more effectively.
How long does training take?
Because this is a learning process, it takes a number of sessions of practice for it to become second nature. The normal training takes 30-40 sessions lasting about 30 minutes each. Many people begin to notice improvement after only a few sessions. If they stop the training before it is complete, the improvement typically doesn’t last.
How long does improvement last?
Improvement is usually long-lasting and durable. Children typically do not require more sessions later in order to keep the gains they have made. Adults can maintain the gains they have made by having a few “booster” sessions once or twice a year, if necessary.
Results to date
Since the pilot program was launched, many of our clients with traumatic brain injury, PTSD and/or other mental health issues have experienced considerable improvement in their symptoms. Clients receiving neurofeedback training are assessed before and after their training program using a range of validated written assessments.
On average, clients doing neurofeedback training have experienced:
– 26% reduction in disability scores on the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule
– 57% reduction in scores on the DSM-5 Severity Measure for Depression
– 47% reduction in scores on the DSM-5 Severity Measure for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
– 58% reduction in scores on the DSM-5 Severity of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms
– 43% reductions in scores on the DSM-V Cross Cutting Symptom Measure (this assesses various psychiatric symptoms)