Our Therapies Series: Part 2 - Neurofeedback



At 180 Sanctuary @ Puripai Villas, we pride ourselves on combining well-understood, traditional treatments (such as talking therapies and mindfulness meditation) with world-leading, cutting-edge technologies and revolutionary conceptual approaches to recovery and wellness. This series takes a deeper look into the various treatments we offer.

Neurofeedback sessions fall comfortably into the “cutting-edge” category. Ongoing advances in neuroscience, alongside technological developments in the fields of physics and electronics, have made possible the development of a truly remarkable set of tools to help diagnose and treat mental health issues.

“Neurofeedback is a kind of biofeedback, which teaches self-control of brain functions to subjects by measuring brain waves and providing a feedback signal”(2). In other words, neurofeedback provides the possibility to understand the way that the brain is functioning, and to then guide it to function in a more positive way through reinforcement training.

The benefits of neurofeedback apply to a huge range of mental health issues, with particularly impressive results being achieved for those with anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD and ADHD, and it is recognised as being beneficial for a wide range of other issues ranging from insomnia to epilepsy. In fact, it is the most effective treatment available for several conditions that, typically, are very hard to treat. 

Studies have shown efficacy ranging from 75%-80% for the problematic mental health and neurodivergent brain types mentioned in the previous paragraph. Remarkably, thanks to the amazing ability of the brain to change its wiring (brain plasticity), neurofeedback sessions can produce permanent and absolute relief from symptoms. Of course, the effectiveness and permanence of the results, and the number of sessions required to achieve them, will depend on the type and severity of the condition. However, even the most severe conditions can be quickly and significantly improved and then, later, maintained with “top-up” sessions. 

Alongside other treatments provided at the 180 Sanctuary, the ability to offer neurofeedback sessions are a game-changer in the speed and effectiveness of your recovery to your best self.

In a neurofeedback session, the client will wear a headset and wristband that monitors their mental and physical state. This can be used to help your therapist better understand and diagnose issues, but perhaps its greatest value is as a therapeutic aid by clearly demonstrating the impact and effectiveness of different interventions, such as mindful breathing or EMDR. 

Advanced software is used to interpret brain activity. Other activity including “heart rate, relative blood flow, skin conductance, respiration [and] temperature”(3) are also monitored and interpreted to provide a detailed overview of the body’s mental and physical state. 

Your therapist can then use this information to help train your body and mind to create more positive states. For example, you might be in a state of heightened anxiety due to memories or current events. In a neurofeedback session, this will be represented onscreen by the software and your therapist will be able to provide the appropriate interventions to help calm and reassure you. During such a process, both you and your therapist will be able to clearly see the effectiveness of those interventions, and a better understanding of what specifically helps you will begin to develop.

The device can also be used to monitor mental states to ensure that a traumatised individual is not over-stimulated in a session. In addition to the expertise of our trauma-informed therapists, the neurofeedback tools can help the therapist ensure that their client is kept within safe boundaries during therapy.

Therapy can be challenging for those with a traumatic past, but we know that it is worth engaging with elements of this trauma in order to make breakthroughs and achieve post-traumatic growth. However, it is important to treat clients with great care in order to ensure there is no risk of becoming retraumatised, or having triggers escalate.

The neurofeedback sessions are an incredibly valuable addition to our toolkit to help us provide the most effective therapy, in an environment of optimal safety. They allow you and your therapist to understand clearly what your state of mind is in the moment, how it changes in reaction to various stimuli or exercises, and to monitor your progress over time. 

When combined with the range of tools at your therapist’s disposal, and in addition to all of the many other therapeutic activities we offer, you can feel great confidence in fulfilling your recovery goals with us.

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