Frequently Asked Questions
Neurofeedback refers to a number of different systems used to assist clients to make changes in their brain functioning. Neurofeedback is a specialized form of biofeedback. Instead of focusing on temperature of the hand, breathing rate, or blood pressure, as some forms of biofeedback do, sophisticated instruments and computer software programs are utilized to give real-time feedback of brain functioning to the brain so it can make changes. These changes occur outside the conscious awareness of the client. A device picks up electrical or heat signals from the brain, magnifies them, and feeds them back to the brain in a way which encourages the brain of the client to rewire itself. Some systems require the client to be very active with their minds as they go through the training. In other systems the client is more passive. Some neurofeedback programs utilize EEGs; others rely on thermal measurements.[back] What is HEG and how does it work?
In this process, the client watches a movie while hooked up to a small device on the forehead which picks up infrared signals from the front of the brain (the pre-frontal cortex). The device does not send any signals into the brain. The client is encouraged to get emotionally immersed in the movie, which creates a certain kind of brain state that quiets down the prefrontal cortex. The device picks up this change and the movie stops and a bar graph appears. The client is instructed to relax and focus on the bar graph until it rises to a certain line whereupon the movie starts again. This period of relaxed focus results in increased activity in the prefrontal cortex. These two brain states: emotional activation and prefrontal focus are incompatible brain states. They cannot both exist at the same time. So as a result of becoming more effective in alternating between these two brain states, brain flexibility increases and the ability of the prefrontal cortex to inhibit intense emotional responses (limbic activation) improves.
HEG is an abbreviation for Hemoencephalography. There are currently two types of HEG. Nir HEG (near infrared) uses an optical probe, developed by the originator of HEG Hershel Toomim to study the change in color of the brain due to brain oxygen absorption. Pir HEG (passive infrared) developed by Jeffrey A. Carmen, Ph.D. uses a sophisticated passive infrared thermometer to feed brain temperature changes back to the trainee. I use the pir HEG process.[back] Why do you call it brain-training?
It is called brain-training to emphasize the fact that what is being trained and altered is not the mind, but the brain itself.[back] Who trained you to use this modality?
Jeffrey A. Carmen, Ph.D who is the psychologist (see link) who developed the technique and the technology of pir HEG.[back] What are your credentials?
I have a Masters in Social Work and am licensed as an independent social worker in the state of Iowa, license # 00710 and a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Hawaii. I have been doing psychotherapy for 35 years and have recently been trained in HEG by Jeffrey Carmen who developed this type of HEG treatment.[back] How often do I need to do it?
Generally once a week for twenty sessions or so, but the length of treatment varies a lot.[back] Are the changes permanent?
Sometimes the effect will wear off after some months and clients will need a refresher of two or three sessions.[back] What is the cost?
$35 per session. It is not at this point reimbursable by insurance. I accept cash, check, credit card or debit card.[back] Can I do HEG while taking medication?
Yes. If you are taking medication, it is important to keep your provider informed as to your decision to utilize HEG, and any effects you may be experiencing. Sometimes, as the neurofeedback begins to have a positive effect, you may be able, in consultation with your provider, to decrease or in some cases eliminate the need for some psychiatric or pain medications. Since some medication side effects are dose related, you may even begin to experience side effects that you did not have previously, indicating the need to decrease the dosage of the medication.[back] Will it change me into someone else?
No. However as your brain readjusts, it is possible that you will begin to perceive the world and yourself differently.[back] Is it the same as therapy or counseling?
No. The focus of this modality is to assist the brain to become more flexible, more integrated, and more effective in dealing with day to day stressors. Counseling and/or therapy can do this as well, but the focus is generally more on the mind and emotions rather than the brain functions directly. Some clients find that they benefit from both HEG and therapy. If you are currently seeing a therapist, it is important to keep that therapist informed as to your involvement and experiences of the neurofeedback.[back] Does it work for everyone?
First of all, there is no guarantee that it will be effective. It works for many people but not everyone. However we should be able to ascertain after six sessions or so as to whether it is likely to be effective.[back] Which conditions will it work for?
When it does work, it has a generalizable effect, that is, it results in a more more flexible, more focused, and more integrated brain. Consequently these changes will positively effect many different disorders. However, migraine headaches, ADHD, and anxiety seem to be the conditions where the best effects occur.[back] Will it cure migraine headaches?
Those who benefit from this treatment may report that their migraines were significantly reduced or eliminated altogether. However it is more likely that the migraines remain at the same frequency and trigger from the same events, but that the pain from the migraines is reduced significantly, sometimes to zero. Consequently the client no longer notices or is negatively affected by the migraines. Sometimes the effect will wear off after some months and clients will need a refresher of two or three sessions. Jeffrey Carmen did a study of 100 patients with migraines and reported significant benefits to 90%. See link.[back] How long is each session?
Generally 40-60 minutes.[back] How do I make an appointment and where will we meet?
We will meet in my private office in the basement of my home in Sioux City Iowa. To make an appointment, call 712-490-0421. Please leave a message as I may not answer immediately due to getting many robocalls.