Combining Psychotherapy / Counseling and Neurofeedback / NeurOptimal
- Options give us the opportunity to learn more about our inborn self-healing and self-regulating abilities and to experience hope
Counseling and Neurofeedback |Top
As a licensed mental health therapist (Mark Liu, M.A., LMFT), I work with clients for different issues that range in severity. One thing that greatly frustrates me is that medication is often their only option for quicker symptom relief. There are problems associated with this option:
- Medication itself is not a cure; the symptoms will most likely return when the medication is stopped. The resulting concern is long-term cost and dependency.
- There are short-term side effects (weight increase, dull feeling and decreasing sex desire, etc.) as well as other troubling unknown long-term side effects (e.g. ADD drug Cylert was believed to cause liver damage and other problems).
- It may be a dead end for clients who do not want to take medications for their unique reasons.
On one hand, I understand that medications may provide—relatively speaking—quicker relief if it works (sometimes it does not work at all). On the other hand, it can lead to the problems listed above. Counseling is essential for a profound in-depth recovery, but it does take time. Therefore, I have searched for other good alternatives to medications. I believe that having options (with long-lasting outcomes) provide us with a sense of hope and to learn more about our larger self (including fascinating in-born self-healing/self-regulating abilities in body and mind domains). The benefits of having more options recommended for clients can be illustrated in incorporating acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy:
- Couples counseling can be complicated by the fact that if one of the spouses has ADHD, which is often undiagnosed until they begin to see me. They come to me for the marital discord on the surface, not knowing that ADHD has played a big part in their relationship difficulties. While their relationship is in crisis, I have found that from time to time acupuncture is a safe and effective option. It can be used to reduce that spouse’s irritability, poor focus, impulsivity and sleep issues in a relatively quick manner, which contributes directly to the effectiveness of couple counseling.
- In my individual counseling practice, based on the understanding that body and mind connects, I have been using acupuncture as adjunctive therapy to treat client’s body-related issues and have seen good results that benefit the mind-dominated counseling intervention.
Incorporating NeurOptimal-Neurofeedback as another Adjunctive Modality in Our Team-Based and Outcome-Based Counseling Practice
Neurofeedback-NeurOptimal (NF-NO) is an alternative I discovered about 3+ years ago when I met with an experienced and well-established local psychologist who has been practicing Neurofeedback for more than 20 years. In the beginning, I asked the same question as I did about acupuncture, “If it is this good, why don’t people know about it?” I found that both acupuncture and neurofeedback have something in common—they both facilitate “self-healing”: utilizing an individual’s own inborn ability.
I developed more and more interest as I studied further including reading a book, “A Symphony in the Brain” by Jim Robbins. I became convinced and even started to refer my clients to this Psychologist for Neurofeedback trainings and saw good outcome. Starting recently, I decided to include Neurofeedback as another adjunctive modality into my counseling practice.
Why did I choose NF-NO among all the other neurofeedback devices on the market?
After an extensive feasibility study, I chose Zengar Institute’s NeurOptimal Trainer among all available neurofeedback approaches based on following reasons:
1. It self-corrects (self-optimizes) and is safe and effective:
NF-NO is completely non-invasive and is designed to work with the brain as a non-linear dynamical system. It does not “push” (forcefully tell) the brain to do any kind of protocol for intervention. Without a protocol, there is no side effect. NF-NO "simply" provides the brain information, like a mirror, about how inefficient and inappropriate it is in real time. The brain then uses this information to organize or to self-correct utilizing its own ability. In brief, the NeurOptimal training allows the brain to adapt naturally (brain is considered as a non-linear system) without being manipulated as compared with other traditional Neurofeedback modalities (brain is considered as a linear system). As a result, the brain functions more efficiently.
As a non-linear neurofeedback model, NF-NO training does not diagnose or treat (a linear medical model-based term) any specific disorder; it works by training (a non-linear system term) the brain as a whole, through brain “mirroring”, instead of treating a “disorder” in the brain. A certain “disorder” is not the target. Instead, the target is optimal condition of the brain (flexibility and resilience). It allows the brain to determine—by itself—what needs to be adjusted (including issues and intensity, frequency and duration of the issues).
Based on many clinical observations, often sleep improvement is the first change that surfaces. Other improvements that follow include:
- An easier time focusing
- Dealing with problems in a calmer manner
- Better management of difficult issues arising from ADHD, PTSD, Autism
- Feeling happier
- Feeling less irritable
Even though NF-NO “does not treat disorders, many issues are managed and improved as a result of the brain system becoming more plastic and resilient by interacting with a non-linear based NeurOptimal.” When a more optimal brain is reached (meaning the brain functions more efficiently), many symptoms within a “disorder” (a construct of symptoms) are improved.
From my research and personal experience, NF-NO is the only one, among all the Neurofeedback models, that does this.
2. NF-NO is cost effective:
- NF-NO does not require a diagnosis like other neurofeedback systems; the cost for the Brain Map (such as QEEG) is not present.
- Because there is no risk of side effects (as compared to other neurofeedback approaches), the chance that clients will want to stop the process due to discomfort is much lower.
- It is likely less expensive than medication(s) in long term for mental health issues.
The wisdom behind the larger-self:
The discovery of NF-NO and acupuncture provides another tool to bridge the body and mind (brain) which ultimately increases counseling effectiveness. I am excited to witness this fascinating inborn self-healing /self-regulating abilities that exists in our body and brain and, particularly, to witness God’s wisdom behind those abilities.
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