Neurofeedback For PTSD and Trauma
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurs in approximately 10% of those who have been subjected to traumatic events which are outside the range of everyday life experience. Part of this 10% is made up of children who have an attachment trauma (disorder), which takes place during the first 18 months of life. Another part is people who have experienced abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), accidents, witnessing something horrific, receiving shocking news,exposure to combat, or unrelenting grief. PTSD can also be a result of ongoing child neglect or stress. Painful memories, intrusive thoughts, and flashbacks are recurring symptom of PTSD.
Whether it’s the pioneering work of Dr. Eugene Peniston at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Fort Lyons, Colorado, and Dr. Carol Manchester in Cincinnati, Ohio, there is new hope for those who have been held captive to traumatic events from the past. The brain can literally be trained out of the destructive brainwave loops that keep the PTSD active. Using the Brainpaint System for Neurofeedback , we have permanently eliminated the symptoms of PTSD from our clients who have suffered, many for most of their lives.
Trauma, whether from a repetitive type or from a one-time dramatic event (stemming from childhood), causes our central nervous system (CNS) to be on alert. The brain has changed to accommodate that traumatic experience, whether the event/events took place today or years ago. It’s as if a robber has come into a house causing panic to the residents of the home. The family (in the house) experience an emergency response to the event. Yet for the person with PTSD or lasting symptoms from trauma, they experience that robber, in their brain every day. This metaphorical robber never leaves the CNS. The stress is part of a continual loop that raises anxiety levels, stress hormones, and hyper vigilance. The CNS cannot escape the event, even though the event presents no current threat or danger. Even if a person can acknowledge the event only happened in the past, they will still be unable to convince the brain and the CNS that the trauma is not occurring in the present moment. This trauma, without intervention, will remain trapped in the brain, assaulting its host without mercy and causing damage to the brain. It’s as confounding as it is painful for those who suffer.
The symptoms of trauma can vary from states of extreme hyper vigilance with anxiety, disturbing nightmares, exaggerated startle responses, and social withdrawal. Dissociation is one of the most common defense mechanisms that occurs with trauma. And due to this, they often can only talk about the trauma in a dissociative state. Otherwise, left brain language for the right brain phenomenon is not available. Other issues often associated with trauma are insomnia, lack of focus and concentration, phobias, depression, alcoholism, addictions, mood lability, and unstable relational and behavioral patterns.
Neurofeedback addresses the source of the trouble-problematic brainwave activity that is stuck in a disarrayed pattern due to trauma. This technique does not rely on drugs or other substances to mask or modify the symptoms. It doesn’t require the client to “relive” trauma, which traumatizes the client, in order to move past it. Neurofeedback addresses each brain individually and effectively. Reference Bessel Van der Klok’s research on Trauma Treatment and Neurofeedback.
After a comprehensive assessment, the practitioner and the Brainpaint system design a set of protocols to benefit the client suffering from a host of issues. The computer then offers feedback to encourage the client to generating more desirable brain rhythms. This “neuro-feed-back” guides the client to a more calm state. In fact, using alpha theta protocol, the slow wave, Clients are in a deep state of relaxation in which they are able to integrate trapped trauma and difficult material from the right brain into the left brain. Clients, as they take back their lives, begin to feel a tremendous sense of empowerment.
Some studies suggest that the PTSD symptoms are resolved by 80% by the 18th session of Neurofeedback. See the accompanying Youtube video on Neurofeedback and Trauma, EEG Info.
Addiction & Trauma
All addicts and alcoholics come from attachment trauma as well as those with personality disorders. This becomes the foundation to any traumatic life experience that occurs afterward including family of origin problems, child abuse, and violence. Therefore, the Alpha Theta protocol can change lifelong patterns of painful, unhealthy adaptations including the relational patterns, behavioral patterns, and defensive mechanisms that accompany addiction.
By Janice Witt, M.A., Addiction and Trauma Specialist Certified Neurofeedback Practitioner Treatment Consultant
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