Together NeuroFeedback Therapy and EMDR Improve PTSD

An Introduction to Neurofeedback and EMDR Therapy

Neurofeedback and EMDR are two forms of therapy that work well together for improving mental health. Neurofeedback can often be used as safe alternative to medication for dealing with mental health issues, while EMDR is a form a psychotherapy most recognized for treating trauma and PTSD.  

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Defined by EMDR International Association, (EMDRIA) as “an evidence-based, clinician led, psychotherapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)…[and] other psychiatric disorders, mental health problems, and somatic symptoms. EMDR International Association has more than 13,000 members trained to provide EMDR therapy. 

The combination of these two therapies may enhance the results you see from either one alone. According to Pamela Downey, MS, LMHC, “Neurofeedback and EMDR are an exciting combination of therapies for treating PTSD. They work differently with EMDR offering a powerful top-down neurobiologically driven psychotherapy; Neurofeedback works with the brain in a bottom-up capacity helping the persons brain unstick itself from patterns that are creating symptoms. When utilized together, both therapies can be more effective.”

Neurofeedback is a safe alternative to medication for dealing with anxiety, insomnia, and PTSD.

Neurofeedback is a non-invasive technique that can improve brain function and mood. It is safe, effective, and relatively inexpensive when one considers the costs of ongoing therapies, impact of relationships, work, and overall quality of life.  Neurofeedback has been shown to be an effective treatment for anxiety, insomnia, and PTSD with no risky side effects. “The use of neurofeedback is not new; however, many people are still unfamiliar with it and have a lot of questions or are unsure if it is a legitimate treatment method. My response is that neurofeedback is simply teaching your brain how to function better by showing it a mirror of itself and providing the brain with information about what it is doing and how it can improve. That’s it! Nothing goes into your brain. It’s as safe as learning to ride a bike or play the piano. In terms of effectiveness, it is important to have an experience professional and advanced software. Neurofeedback is a broad term, but when these criteria are met, it is demonstrated to be as effective as medication in many cases, with research demonstrating about 80% of research participants showing significant improvements. We see numbers closer to 90% at Emerald Coast NeuroFeedback”. 

 Emerald Coast NeuroFeedback is a proud partner of Homecoming for Veterans, a national outreach program that provides free neurofeedback training for veterans for the rehabilitation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and issues resulting from traumatic brain injury, blast injury, and concussions.

A combination of neurofeedback and EMDR may provide enhanced results for people with PTSD.

While neurofeedback can help people with PTSD, it’s important to note that, in some cases, neurofeedback may be supported by other therapies.  

The combination of neurofeedback and EMDR therapy has been found to be more effective than either one alone in treating PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, emotional detachment, or hyperarousal (e.g., being easily startled).

A combination of neurofeedback and EMDR may provide enhanced results for people with PTSD. For example:

  • Neurofeedback helps the brain with self-regulation while EMDR is an information processing psychotherapy that can help target responses to trauma. This means fewer EMDR sessions may be needed to see results than if you used EMDR alone or another therapy alone. Pamela Downey MS, a certified EMDR therapist, EMDR trainer and consultant explains, “One of the first things we want to consider in the early stages of EMDR is the clients self-regulatory capacity. We must work in what we call ‘the window of tolerance’ for the therapy to be effective. What this means is we do not want our clients to be highly distressed in the process of therapy. This will inhibit reprocessing and create more discomfort. While there are ways that we address this with EMDR, Neurofeedback is the most efficient aid to that process I have ever seen in my 13 years in the field”. 

In some cases, EEG biofeedback alone may help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Using electrodes placed on a person’s head the therapist and software can read the brainwave patterns, (called electroencephalogram or EEG) and based on these patters, specialized software provides feedback to train the brain to get out of ‘stuck states’ by using auditory, (tones or music), and sometimes visual feedback. Utilizing their EEG, a trained professional can help their brain waves normalize to healthier patterns.

EEG biofeedback can also help people who struggle with PTSD deal with insomnia, nightmares, and other sleep issues.

EEG biofeedback can help with many common causes of sleep disorders. There are several causes and contributing factors to difficulties with both falling asleep and staying asleep which are different problems. Additionally, nightmares and night terrors are well addressed with certain types of neurofeedback. 

EEG biofeedback is a non-invasive therapy that measures brain wave activity and helps the brain self- correct irregular patterns. Through EEG biofeedback, you can train your brain to reduce the frequency of nightmares and get back on track with getting a good night’s sleep.

Neurofeedback and EMDR are a good combination because they are complimentary approaches.

Neurofeedback is the use of brainwave training to help people with symptoms, and goals, including mental health concerns and PTSD. Neurofeedback is a bottom-up approach that works by placing sensors on the scalp to measure your brain’s response to certain stimuli. Cutting edge technology then uses this information to provide feedback to your brain, through a combination of visual and/or audio feedback, allowing it to retrain itself. The cumulative process of neurofeedback training sessions results in actual learning and rewiring of your brain. 

The results of Neurofeedback can include improved sleep, increased self-confidence, decreased amounts of negative thoughts and an improvement to the way you respond to stress. The brain is brought into greater balance and overall wellbeing making it more possible to have improvements in relationships and ability to focus on the present moment. 

EMDR can be thought of as a top-down approach that utilizes psychotherapy techniques at the level of the mind vs the level of the brain. The focus is on specific responses one has had because of traumatic or otherwise impactful experiences. Once there have been changes in the mind or one’s psychology, the impact of this change can also create changes in the brain. 

While both approaches show evidence and efficacy for the treatment of PTSD and stressor related disorders, the two together provide a considerable advantage and synergy in making treatment both efficient and lasting. 

Neurofeedback research also shows significant reduction in symptoms of panic disorder and other forms of anxiety, depression that may co-occur with PTSD in some people.   

This means fewer EMDR sessions may be needed to see results than if you used EMDR therapy or another therapy alone.

Together, these two therapies may provide a more effective treatment than either one alone.

EMDR therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is evidenced based in treating trauma, PTSD, and anxiety disorders. EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1980s. It involves accessing information that isn’t properly stored in the brain while simultaneously activating the brains adaptive response system, (via bilateral stimulus or distraction of some kind). This helps you process distressing material without feeling overwhelmed. Neurofeedback helps the brain regulate itself, so it can be like a warmup or stretch before an exercise (EMDR). It is also very common that symptoms of PTSD or distressing material process without any disturbance during neurofeedback sessions. 

Both therapies can be helpful for people struggling with anxiety, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), phobias such as fear of driving or needles, panic attacks and general feelings of stress.

Neurofeedback helps the brain self-regulate and retrain itself to feel and function better, while EMDR is a psychological therapy that can help the brain to change how it is storing information related to specific events.

Neurofeedback, or biofeedback therapy, uses sensors to measure brain activity and then teaches the brain to self-correct the electrical activity, or re-regulate the brain. This can help treat anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders and more.

EMDR is an evidence-based treatment that works on changing responses to trauma by tapping into the body’s natural resources for healing, (AIP or adaptive information processing), in this case in response to traumatic events or memories. It has been shown to be very effective in treating PTSD symptoms when used with other therapies as well as alone.

Neurofeedback Therapy and EMDR Therapy work well together for PTSD and other mental health issues

Neurofeedback therapy is a safe alternative to medication for dealing with mental health issues, including anxiety and PTSD. It can also help people who struggle with insomnia, nightmares, and other sleep issues by working with the brain to regulate itself.

In combination with EMDR therapy, neurofeedback may provide enhanced results for people struggling with PTSD.

Neurofeedback and EMDR Therapy in summary

Neurofeedback therapy and EMDR have both been shown to be effective at treating PTSD, insomnia, and other mental health conditions. When combined, these therapies can provide even better results for people with PTSD and other disorders. With the help of a reputable neurofeedback practitioner and a licensed mental health counselor experienced in EMDR therapy, you can alleviate symptoms and improve your mental health in fewer sessions.