Last spring, For All Seasons introduced neurofeedback therapy to its clients as a new service. The program was introduced to For All Seasons by Bob Patterson, who started the Able Brain Center in Chestertown. Patterson, who has over 20 years of experience using neurofeedback with trauma patients, retired and brought the program to For All Seasons in January 2017. He has been mentoring staff at For All Seasons since then to transition the new program to the agency.
Neurofeedback therapy evaluates the ratio of a client’s brain wave frequencies to determine what stressors he or she may be experiencing that lead to certain behaviors, according to Carly Vincent, LGSW, Program Coordinator, Mobile Crisis Stabilization Services at For All Seasons.
“An imbalance or miscommunication between brainwaves in different parts of the brain can present as anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, and/or a variety of other symptoms,” says Vincent. “While it is typical to have both high and low brainwave frequencies interacting at once, finding a balance among these frequencies is the key to emotional regulation. Neurofeedback helps to facilitate this homeostatic relationship.”
After an initial assessment, therapists work with clients to identify four to five behaviors they want to address in the therapy. In the office, clients are then connected to an EEG machine where sensors are placed on targeted areas of the skull responsible for different behavioral functions. The therapist then observes the client’s brain waves on the computer screen as the client plays certain computer games. The client gets a beep to reward certain behaviors in the game.
The goal is to help the client achieve better emotional regulation while playing the game. “The games target different areas of the brain that help with specific behaviors. Through this therapy, clients can reduce compulsive behaviors and/or improve regulation of other extreme behaviors,” Vincent said.
According to Carol Strootman, LGSW, Therapist, For All Seasons, “Trauma patients benefit from this type of therapy as it retrains the brain, making new pathways so that parts of the brain can communicate with each other. The client realizes that new pathways are being formed when they start to feel changes in their ability to self-regulate their emotions.”
Neurofeedback therapy typically consists of 20 sessions which are scheduled twice a week. Each session is approximately 30 minutes long. Therapists at For All Seasons use neurofeedback in conjunction with psychotherapy. While the neurofeedback therapy is used across the life span, For All Seasons uses the therapy most with children and adolescents who may have ADHD or developmental trauma, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Both Vincent and Strootman completed an extensive training focusing on the implementation of neurofeedback in the clinical setting, which included a hands-on practicum. Their training has provided a solid foundation for the ongoing mentoring they are receiving from Bob Patterson as they work toward independent certification.
“Neurofeedback is recognized as one of the best practices for ADHD by the American Academy of Pediatrics,” Strootman says. “I have recommended it to someone with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and she has been able to regulate her emotions better since using neurofeedback. Another person with inattentive ADHD and anxiety says she has been better able to focus in school since participating in this therapy. Her mother even reported that she began singing again like when she was younger.
Clients are paying for the neurofeedback therapy through grant funding and through self-pay options. For further information, contact For All Season at 410-822-1018. For the 24-Hour Crisis Hotline, call 800-310-7273.
For more than 30 years, For All Seasons has been strengthening and enhancing the lives of children, adolescents, adults, seniors, couples and families on Maryland’s Mid-Shore by providing a full continuum of bilingual (English-Spanish) outpatient behavioral health services, regardless of ability to pay. Their mission is to provide the highest level of comprehensive and integrated therapy, advocacy, and psychiatric care in a safe environment where those who have entrusted then with their care are empowered and nurtured on their journey to wellness.