Neurocounseling is an approach to therapy that uses neurofeedback —among other methods, to regulate and organize the brain communication and functioning and a myriad of therapy methods to work with thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Therefore, Neurocounseling also involves reprograming the mind to modify the narrative, the perception, and the behavior that were part of the initial symptomatology.
Neurocounseling is a new modality to deal with affect regulation and optimization of brain functions. It makes heavy use of neuroscience, computers, and cutting-edge electronic devices to stimulate and improve nervous system functioning, like Neurofeedback, brain-wave entrainment, CES, etc.
Neurofeedback (NFB) is a computer-aided method in which clients learn to better self-regulate their own brain activity by observing and modifying the effects of the brain waves in real time. By training the brain to produce the wave and the connection that it should.
The craft of altering your mind/brain system is a complex task, as it includes the technical component, the emotional and psychological piece, as well as the art of interpreting data, observing your subjective response and guiding you to land in a safe, comfortable and productive place.
Learning self-regulation could allow you to alter or inhibit the behaviors that could place you at risk, or create emotional dysfunction.
NFB is a technique that optimizes the brain functioning by changing the focus of attention from your behavior, to the way your brain and nervous system works.
It uses neuroplasticity brain properties, which allows your brain to unlearn negative habits and to replace them for functional, pleasant and effective new ones. This, in fact, gives you the control back that so many of the emotional reactions that have been taken away from you, including
lack of concentration,
lack of motivation,
and a long list of undesirable experiences and reactions.
NFB provides the brain with a mirror of its own function, which eventually "shapes" its activity towards a more desirable, more regulated performance.
That optimization of the functions of the brain is obtained by the feedback sent to you from a computerized game which rewards improvements on the neuropaths used, igniting the learning process. The brain learns to play the game, not the person's cognition, which makes results long-lasting by creating and reinforcing efficient and better functioning neuropaths.
In terms of reprograming your brain functionality, the meaning of “effective” could be very different depending on
the skill of the clinician,
the capability of the equipment,
the sophistication of the software, and
the clarity in choosing and setting goals.
There are many different approaches and schools of thought in the world of Neurofeedback:
Infra-low frequency (ISF),
LoRETA Z-Score NFT to name only a few.
All of them reported being useful for their respective users.
Inside each of these approaches, there may be an infinite number of protocols and targeted areas, frequencies and variables, defined by channels, derivations, filters, targets, methodologies and other dimensions like feedback presentation (visual, auditory, tactile), reward percentage, delay, etc.
This huge variety in the world of Neurofeedback-based Brain Training creates a huge challenge in terms of research, and also in terms of reliability on the treatment.
Many clients go looking for NFT without really knowing what to ask for, and will accept whatever the clinician offers as such. There are even manufacturers of equipment that claim to have a one-size-fits-all application, that because of the simplicity of use, is chosen by clinicians that apply it with clients without any training or understanding of what each brain needs.
The competition for market share is becoming extreme, and many companies and professionals are claiming that all the neurofeedback methods are effective because of the natural capacity of the brain to learn and because of neuroplasticity. There are some machines that are using the name NF when in fact they don't offer the reprogramming of the dysregulated brain networks, but only "feeding" some of the waves that may be functioning regularly.
Our approach is to invest in the best and to offer only the most reliable.
We know that every individual is unique in many ways and that successful treatment depends not only on our equipment and skills but also on our capacity to observe and meet every client’s particular needs.
For that, we design very different protocols combining traditional training with more statistically based models that target several areas of the brain, different functionality, and specific brain networks.
As in the case of the equipment, the competition for market share is also extreme in terms of trying to demonstrate what type of training is more effective. Research becomes expensive due to the number of different approaches and ways to affect brain activity. Even when all the methods target regulation, each methodology claims to obtain better/faster/more permanent results depending on what is reprogramed.
Here is a brief description of the different methods:
Amplitude training (SMR, Alpha/Theta, etc): amplitude training is the most traditional way to address the dysregulation on brain activity. It takes care of the excess or lack of energy fired by the neurons at specific frequencies. It's the simplest way to train, normally done with only 2 sensors connected, and calculating the threshold only by the reporting of the client. It takes much longer to achieve results.
Coherence training: Limited communications pathways from the front left to the left rear of the brain can impair short-term memory. Hyper-communication along pathways in the front of the brain can result in difficulty in handling incoming information, leading to an inability to organize and execute tasks and assignments. Coherence training improves communications pathways between regions of the brain.
Z-scores training (2 channel & 4 channels): uses a normative database to identify and target a specific individual's area of dysregulation allowing for faster and more effective treatment.
Z-scores sLoreta training (low-resolution electromagnetic tomographic analysis): signals detected at the scalp relate to actual local brain activity. Loreta links EEG activity detected at the surface of the scalp with the area of the brain's cortex that gave rise to that activity. LORETA uses mathematical models to convert data read by the EEG into thousands of spatial regions referred to as voxels which make up the 3D volume of the brain. It then uses a normative database to compare in real-time the activity of the client to give feedback to the brain of optimal performance. This modality is the fastest solution when the client's brain has enough capacity to adjust many factors at once.
Infraslow fluctuation (ISF) training: Infra-slow Fluctuation (ISF) electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback is a recent development in neurofeedback training. This form of training is focused on the lowest energy the brain produces (< 0.1 Hz). The intervention is performed with a Direct Current (DC) coupled neurofeedback amplifier. It is distinct from Slow Cortical Potential (SCP) training and Infra-Low Frequency (ILF) training. It shares a similar optimization process with ILF that focuses on emergent state shifts within sessions. These state shifts require frequency adjustments that optimize client response to the training in real-time. It has effects and improvements in physiology and homeostasis.
Slow cortical potential (SCP) training: SCPs are very slow shifts in the EEG near to 0 Hz, typically generated in an event-related design for several seconds. A negative shift reduces the excitability of the underlying cortical area while a positive shift is understood as inhibition of excitation and/or consummation of energy. Currently, it is limited to only certain disorders (ADHD and epilepsy).
Infra-low Frequency (ILF) training: does not rely on ‘operant conditioning.’ Rather, this approach works by showing the brain a reflection of its own activity, like a mirror, and let the brain do what it wants or needs to, relying on the principle that the brain has the capacity to ‘fix’ itself (self-healing as every other cell in the body)