Neurofeedback for PTSD

PTSD Therapy in Santa Rosa

It might be helpful to share a little bit about the changes that can happen while undergoing neurofeedback training. In my practice, I work extensively with children, adolescents, and adults with histories of various kinds of trauma, ranging from single-incident events, such as motor vehicle accidents or assaults, to more chronic forms, such as childhood abuse or exposure to violence.

Neurofeedback works by helping the nervous system return to its more resilient, adaptive state by training brainwave frequencies. Following a traumatic event, the nervous system tends to get stuck in a state of hyper- or hypo-arousal, which can cause symptoms that interfere with day-to-day life. Hyper-arousal, which involves higher frequency brainwaves, can manifest in a number of symptoms, including anxiety, difficulties with sleeping, and feeling on edge. Hypo-arousal, which involves lower frequency activity, often results in feelings of depression and a lack of motivation or engagement with activities that were previously enjoyable. In simplistic terms, the neurofeedback process helps the brain to remember that it has a whole range of brainwave frequencies available to it beyond the stuck pattern, by challenging the brain to begin to produce those other frequencies during the training process.

Although results vary, an example might be helpful. I recently completed a series of neurofeedback sessions with a young adult male who had been sexually assaulted a few years ago1. Although he had made excellent progress in therapy with many symptoms of PTSD following the assault, he still struggled with periods of anger that was easily triggered and usually led to explosive behavior (i.e., yelling, name-calling, insults) toward his loved ones. His anger, a symptom of hyper-arousal, was taking a toll on his relationships and so he sought neurofeedback training to help.

Below are two charts that document his progress over just a few sessions. There you see that when he first came in for his assessment on May 21, he rated the most severe anger and explosiveness from the previous week as a 9 on a 10 point scale. Over the course of the following weeks of training, you can see the severity of his anger and explosiveness dropped dramatically, with just a new neurofeedback training session.

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Although each client's experience is different, dramatic relief from trauma-related symptoms is not uncommon with neurofeedback training. If you would like more information about neurofeedback and how it might be helpful to you or your loved ones, please contact me.

Sil Machado, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist in Santa Rosa specializing in therapy and neurofeedback for PTSD, anxiety, and LGBTQ+ issues using. He draws from time-tested and cutting-edge modalities to tailor the healing process to each client's unique needs and experiences.