Teens with anxiety disorders often struggle to determine the root cause of their anxiety when they experience symptoms consistently. In some cases, they may have a hard time differentiating between generalized anxiety and when their anxiety is escalating. As their body has been trained to remain on alert, anxiety treatments like neurofeedback can help teens retrain their brains to calm down when feeling overwhelmed.
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a computer-aided technique that impacts brainwave activity, resulting in significant changes across memory, cognition, and focus. This science-backed method is designed to train the most important organ in our body – the brain.
In a way, neurofeedback is like a video game or a form of exercise for the brain. By wearing a specially-designed helmet which tracks brain activity and a display for live feedback, teens can control different images using their brain. Teens can train their focus just as if they were training a muscle. The secret is getting the brain to produce the ‘right’ kind of waves.
How Does Neurofeedback Work?
Biofeedback instruments quantify how a child’s body reacts to certain stimuli. Like a form of exercise for the brain, students are hooked up to sensors that are tracking the behavior of the brain’s neural pathways while observing images on a screen, such as a movie or a video game. When the neural pathways are not functioning properly, the screen will get smaller and quieter.
For example, the screen will get louder and brighter as the neural pathways are functioning well. video games used in neurofeedback won’t let a child progress unless they changes a behavior at the moment. As you repeat those trainings, the brain learns how to keep itself in that calmer place. You’ll still react to strong events, but you teach your brain to be calmer. Essentially, the brain is identifying positive and negative associations and working to repair pathways in order to have the most healthy experience. This teaches the brain how to regulate itself properly and helps students recognize when they are feeling anxious or distracted.
How Does Neurofeedback Help Reduce Anxiety?
Often, when people experience trauma, anxiety, or depression, the neural pathways in the brain have gotten confused along the way and are not functioning properly. Participating in neurofeedback sessions allows teens to see instant feedback about how their brain responds to different situations in real-time, which gives them more insight into what triggers their anxiety. When they recognize that the screen is becoming less clear, they may step back and reflect on what they are feeling in the moment or what may have changed about their experience. Watching the screen become more focused again gives them the feedback that whatever they did in between was effective in helping them feel more regulated.
Neurofeedback is a noninvasive way to reprogram the brain and make lasting changes. It is particularly effective for teens who struggle with identifying anxious thoughts and being aware of how it affects their everyday life.
Neurofeedback in Residential Treatment
Every student receives 3-4 sessions per month of neurofeedback as part of our therapeutic programming. Each session will be accompanied by 3 brain mappings (data processed into a visual representation of brain wave patterns).
Jaime Palmer, MSW, LCSW, Executive Clinical Director at Solstice West, believes neurofeedback will provide an additional level of care for students. The goal of neurofeedback is not to entirely replace traditional forms of therapy, but instead allow the neural pathways in a student’s brain to integrate with other forms of therapy more effectively. “We’ve seen that students who receive neurofeedback typically have a shorter length of stay and many are able to decrease their use of medication,” said Black. “It’s an innovative and effective way to decrease issues like anxiety and depression.”
Solstice RTC Can Help
Solstice West RTC is a residential treatment program for young girls and assigned female at birth ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy to allow girls and assigned female at birth to explore themselves in a variety of ways. Through groups on various topics, girls and assigned female at birth learn to become more aware of their emotions and to express them appropriately to others. Solstice Residential Treatment Center is dedicated to teaching teens how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions.
For more information about our how Solstice helps teen girls and assigned female at birth manage anxiety, call 866-278-3345. We can help your family today.