is a type of biofeedback and has been in use for over 30 years
but is only now becoming widely known. A powerful technology rooted
in the foundations of biofeedback, the primary goal of neurofeedback
is to stabilize brain function. Rather than curing specific conditions,
neurofeedback helps balance the brain so that the brain corrects
itself. This process trains the central nervous system to self-regulate
so that it functions better as a result. As an example, if your
place a special skin thermometer on your finger, you can raise
or lower its temperature at will just by focusing on the gauge.
Could you explain more about brainwaves?
brain produces four distinct types of brain waves, which are labeled
in Greek letters. People usually have a mixture of frequencies
at any given time, but the dominant frequency varies depending
on the state of consciousness and on individual differences. Beta
is considered to be the fast waves, measuring 15 Hertz and above.
Alpha is 8-12 Hertz. Theta is 4-7 Hertz. Delta is 0.5-3.5 Hertz.
Normal focused waking state consists of primarily Beta waves in
the brain. When you close your eyes and relax, Alpha tends to
be produced. Theta normally is only produced briefly when you
are starting to fall asleep. Delta is normally produced when you
How long does the training take?
are usually one to three times per week, but each person is different.
Many notice some improvement within the first three sessions,
however, its recommended to have at least 20 visits. The total
number depends on the type of problem, the age of the person,
and many other factors. Typically ADD requires about 20-45 sessions.
Application for alcoholism takes 30 to 40 sessions.
How can I expect to feel after a session?
may feel a little tired, as if you worked hard, or sleepy and
a little spacey during a session. This is natural, as you are
doing the equivalent of aerobic training or weight-lifting with
your brain. However, most of my clients notice an increase in
energy levels and clarity of thought within a few minutes after
training can be used for two separate purposes. The first is to
stabilize the physiology of the brain. This usually results in
a person having less dramatic reactions to stressors and returning
to a calm, focused place after the stress is resolved. The brain
becomes more stable, resilient, and flexible. The second purpose
is to resolve deep psychological issues in the unconscious mind.
It’s called Alpha-theta training and is commonly recommended
after 20 sessions of neurofeedback for physiological stability.
training sometimes is referred to as altered states training due
to its similarity to hypnosis. The client and I create a script
for what they want to focus on. Often the script is about the
type of person they want to become and they are asked to use visualization.
With this type of training, the brain increases the motivation
(approach) and decreases the fear (avoidance).
see it as creating a conscious evolution for yourself. As examples,
you may want to improve your creativity, be calm in all situations,
get rid of that last bit of background negativity, be able to
talk openly to your family, lose your anger, eliminate jealousy,
start your own business, or be more outgoing.
place the sensors on the back on the head and ask you to close
your eyes. I spend the first 5-10 minutes going over the imagery
you are to consciously focus on during the session. I then turn
the feedback on and leave the room. The tones will guide you into
the elusive alpha theta state. This state of consciousness is
experienced as being in between the states of awake and sleep.
It’s the twilight state. Normally you fall asleep if left
on your own. The tones you hear coming from the computer holds
you in that normally fleeting state of conscious.
has all the benefits of hypnosis because you’re re-programming
your subconscious mind, but with the added feature that hypnosis
can’t get to. It clears out the traumatic experiences that
have put on the brakes on your ability to progress. Everyone has
outdated negative, life limiting beliefs. They reside in the unconscious
where a person doesn’t know that they don’t know.
The brain operates as if these beliefs are still true.
training is commonly used for alcoholism and post traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD). In 1989 Eugene Peniston published his now famous
study using alpha theta training to treat chronic alcoholics in
an inpatient setting. He achieved an 80% rate of recovery. These
were men from a VA hospital who were also Vietnam vets. They were
reporting that not only did they stop drinking, but they stopped
obsessing about the war. Also, many negative aspects of their
personality cleared up. That led to another study of just working
with PTSD. They found the same thing happened. The PTSD went away.
The rough edges of personality mellowed. Several MMPI scores moved
to within normal limits.
person has had some trauma during their lifetime. Therefore, just
about anyone can benefit from alpha theta training. We all have
limitations that hold us back. Have you noticed how you stop yourself
from achieving what you say you want? Even if a person believes
they know what stops them, the real reason is buried in the unconscious.
Common resistance include fear of failing, being abandoned, guilt
over surpassing your parents or siblings, wanting to be taken
care of by others, not wanting to grow up, etc. It’s pure
fear and it has to do with early family dynamics, belief systems,
and trauma. Alpha-theta training helps the non-conscious mind
to reprocess these early experiences even if it never becomes
conscious. The brain, while idling in 6-9 cycles per second, resolves
Edison had his own version of this method. When he would get stuck
on a problem after hours of focusing on it, he would go to his
office for a “power nap”. He would recline in his
chair with metal ball bearings in the palm of both hands. He got
as close to sleep as he possibly could without actually falling
asleep. If he did, the ball bearings would drop and make a loud
noise, waking him up. He would drift into the twilight state until
the solution to the problem arose spontaneously, then jump up
and go back to work. It was low tech biofeedback at its finest.
of my clients start alpha theta training after they complete 20
sessions of neurofeedback for physiological stability. Many of
these individuals have made significant changes in their life
as a result. The results often go way beyond what psychotherapy
offers and with greater depth. Most people need 20 to 25 alpha
theta sessions to achieve the best results.
been amazing. I used to feel groggy in the daytime. I now feel
alert. I have a lot less anger inside. I started having deep
insights about myself that I never got to after years of therapy.
Now my behavior is much less erratic, and my thoughts are much
less obsessive. For the first time in my life, I can feel sad
without being depressed.”
- Saleswoman (after 14 neurofeedback sessions)
“I’ve noticed improvements after each session. My
muscles are more relaxed and I’m far more coordinated
with my body movement. I now have better quality of sleep and
my thinking is clearer. I used to upset my wife because I was
too intense. All that is changing. I am learning how to be in
the now and not react so strongly. Needless to say, I am very
happy and pleased by my results. Secrets like this shouldn't
be kept this well.”
- Executive (after 9 neurofeedback sessions)
feel mellow all the time now. I’m not panicking over things
like I used to. I can stay in the moment and be focused. I am
much more productive and energetic. My creativity and energy
level is up. I feel clear-headed. A lot of people are asking
what is different about me. They notice a change. I sleep well.
Overall, I feel happier.”
- Photographer (after 17 neurofeedback sessions)
& Conditions Helped:
and anxiety disorder
traumatic stress disorder / PTSD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
drug abuse (alcohol, amphetamine, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine).
Dr Dan Staso
am a psychologist in private practice in Santa Barbara specializing
in the use of technology as applied to psychology. I incorporate
neurofeedback, audio visual entrainment, cranial electrical stimulation,
skin temperature and GSR biofeedback units, and a breath training
unit. I apply these technologies for depression, anxiety, pain
management, PTSD, ADD, and addictive disorders. In addition, I
periodically teach clinical applications of neurofeedback to professionals
who wish to add this specialty to their practice. It is my goal
in this blog to offer information for the public about how I apply
this technology to my practice and I hope that the information
is useful and helps to answer questions about this new and rapidly
have been in private practice since 1982 and have extensive
training and experience in EMDR and cognitive behavior therapy.
I was formerly on the faculty at the California Graduate Institute
in Los Angeles where I have taught Psychopharmacology, EMDR, and
Fear of Intimacy. I offer take home units such as Alpha-Stim SCS
and DAVID PAL audio visual entrainment devices, which complement
neurofeedback and speed up results.