Over the last 50 years, neurofeedback has helped people worldwide achieve optimal performance in an increasingly challenging environment. There are hundreds of research studies supporting its efficacy and a rising number of people whose well-being has improved thanks to this type of brain training.
Little by little, neuron by neuron, neurofeedback is changing people’s lives! So it's no wonder that becoming a neurofeedback expert has become such a prevalent role.
We talked with Dr. Diana Kaplan, therapist Zara Dureno, and Dr. Sarah Murphy in order to learn more about their neurofeedback journey. Their valuable knowledge, actionable advice, and real-life patient stories will be shared in this three-part article series in which you’ll discover:
2) How to get the most out of the neurofeedback training process
In the first article, our neurofeedback experts explained how they got into the field and talked about their formal education. In this second article, they share what they learned during their initiation into the field of neurofeedback so they can help others know what to expect when venturing out on this journey.
1. Try It Yourself
When asked to share the most important piece of advice they have for someone who’s thinking about becoming a neurofeedback practitioner, the first thing that came to our experts’ minds is that future practitioners should give brain training a shot themselves first.
“After you get some basic training, spend a lot of time with a device yourself and see how it feels for your brain. I started training myself because I wanted to see what it felt like and noticed that my thoughts were clearer. I was able to organize them. I didn’t forget things as often as I used to. Also, I was more aware of the moment when my brain went into a foggy or stressed state,” says Zara Dureno, one of the neurofeedback practitioners that we interviewed.
But, choosing the best protocol for yourself might be tricky. According to Dr. Diana Kaplan, a certified ADHD coach and a neurofeedback practitioner, you can’t go wrong with relaxation training.
“You could practice relaxation. Everybody can do better based on that alone. Neurofeedback is about the calmness inside of us. At least, that's what I saw and experienced. But, try to be patient because neurofeedback is also a process that takes, in my experience, at least 40 sessions to yield results,” explains Dr. Diana Kaplan.
2. Find a Mentor
Think of the most valuable insights you’ve gained about work and life. Chances are, those gems came to you through some form of mentoring. People with the experience, knowledge, skills, or perspective you seek have shared their wisdom with you and maybe even helped you put it to good use.
Mentoring is indispensable to learning. It’s how we identify and fill critical gaps we’d struggle to address on our own. A good mentor is part diagnostician, assessing what’s going on with you now, and part guide, connecting you with the advice, ideas, people, and resources you need to grow and move forward.
But, as critical as they are, good mentors almost never come your way unbidden. Waiting for them to reach out to you rarely pans out, and that's why it’s you who should make the first move. However, it’s important to choose a mentor that specializes in the type of neurofeedback training you want to do.
“When you first start, you should find someone who has experience in amplitude training, especially if you’re trying to learn from a clinician. I don’t think that someone who’s doing a sigma or low-frequency program would be beneficial for you because it’s going to be very confusing going from that to Myndlift. Ideally, you should find someone who has experience in both amplitude training and Myndlift specifically.” explains Dr. Sarah Murphy.
3. Embrace New Information
No matter whether you're entering the neurofeedback field as a therapist, coach, teacher, psychologist, doctor, or nurse, you'll probably have to learn a lot of new information. And struggling with new concepts is a natural dip in the learning process, but know that it’s only temporary!
"I started training with Dr. Nathan Brown, and then I did the Myndlift training online. Doing all the courses there, plus the BCIA-certified course, was really beneficial. There was a lot of new information, especially about electricity, but learning about how reflective electricity in the brain is of our state was very interesting. I’ve seen many different people cluster with the same symptoms and tend to have the same thing going on in their brains. Some of them said that they sometimes think that they might be making the symptoms up. Now, they have this objective data that shows that some parts of their brain don’t have the optimal amount of electricity, and it correlates with a lot of other people who are experiencing the same symptoms. That was fascinating to see,” explains Zara Dureno.
4. Pick Up the Best Books
Picking the right literature can make a big difference in your learning process. When choosing books to learn from, aim for the ones that teach you the history of neurofeedback and its different approaches, but also help you decide on the best system for your practice.
“There’s that one book called Doing Neurofeedback by Richard Soutar and Robert Longo, which was a requirement of the course I attended, and I think it’s a really helpful book to have,” says Zara Dureno.
Doing Neurofeedback covers topics like brain anatomy and physiology, models of disorders, basic electronics necessary to understand the recording process, learning/behavior theory, creating training protocols, and evaluating clinical progress.
Apart from reading Doing Neurofeedback, check out this article to discover more books that can help you use neurofeedback effectively.
5. Roll With the Punches
In the world of neuroscience, learning never stops. Even when you start training other people, you'll probably encounter a challenge or two and feel the need to deepen your knowledge and do more research.
That's mainly because everyone's brain is wired differently. Like with fingerprints, no two people have the same brain anatomy. This uniqueness stems from a combination of genetic factors and individual life experiences, but it’s also what can make being a neurofeedback rookie challenging.
“Roll with the punches. You’re not going to know all the answers but don’t just say that you don’t know something. Say something along the lines of, ‘I’ll dig up some research on that and try to understand it the best I can.’ Let your clients know that you don’t have all the answers, because neurofeedback doesn’t have all the answers, but that you’ll do your best work with their brain specifically because every brain is different,” explains Dr. Sarah Murphy.
6. Be Excited About Your New Role
Even though the journey of becoming a neurofeedback practitioner can be demanding, it can also be extremely rewarding. As a neurofeedback expert, you’ll have the ability to help people change their lives for the better.
“My first client is now a senior in college, but she had a foggy mind when we first started training and was very disorganized. She has also suffered lifelong ADHD symptoms without ever knowing she had ADHD. Before Myndlift, I was helping her with other systems, mainly cognitive neurofeedback, and after a while, we thought that we had reached a point where she couldn't get better. That's when I offered her Myndlift, and she loves it! The reason why she loves it is that suddenly she's able to sit down and do homework. The hyperactivity is gone. She doesn't have to stand up every ten minutes; she sits and works. She called me once and told me, ‘I am very scared,’ I asked what happened, and she said, ‘I'm becoming scarcely organized.’ To this day, she keeps practicing.” says Dr. Diana Kaplan.
Apart from being found beneficial in reducing symptoms of various brain disorders, including ADHD and anxiety, neurofeedback training can also help alleviate symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus.
“Neurofeedback has been successful for many different things. We had big success with chronic pain; specifically with one of my clients who had lupus. She found that the inflammation in her body went down very significantly after four months of training and she was able to come off a lot of her medication. She was also able to do yoga and run again and she didn’t have that same level of pain, which was really great and amazing to see,” says Zara Dureno.
How to Explain Neurofeedback to Your Clients?
In the final article out of this three-part series, we’re going to share insights from experts on how to explain neurofeedback to your clients and how to make sure they get the most out of their training process.
Are you considering adding neurofeedback to your clinic? You can complete a remote, BCIA accredited qualification course. Learn more about how to get a neurofeedback qualification.