Must-Read Neurofeedback Advice

Essential info for first-time neurofeedbackers.

Katherine Ellison
Photograph: Sean Locke

The danger with this up-and-coming but largely unregulated treatment is that you can easily waste a lot of time and money—or even suffer side effects that, while mostly mild and temporary, are unnerving. (In one documented case, a patient was so dazed when she left a neurofeedback session that she drove her car into a nearby light pole.)

To avoid problems and have successful treatments, you obviously need a good therapist. Most important: She or he should be a licensed health or mental health professional. (That may also help you with insurance coverage.)

Check if your therapist has been certified by the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA), which requires classroom training, mentoring and a nationally recognized examination. Only about500 of the estimated 7,500 neurofeedback practitioners in the United States have taken the time to fulfill this requirement, according to the BCIA’s certification director, ­Judith Crawford. Two websites that can help you find a ­qualified therapist are eegspectrum.com and eeginfo.com. A big temptation, considering the high cost of this therapy, is to buy or rent equipment to use at home. As neurofeedback grows more popular, manufacturers are starting to mass-market gizmos on the Internet, making extravagant claims. But keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve any of these devices for uses other than relaxation training.

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