Neurofeedback Therapy Treatment in Teens

Neurofeedback and Biofeedback Therapy

Neurofeedback Therapy In Teens

November 24, 2015

ERTP and Video Games

That’s where Elk River and video games come in. Elk River is state licensed and nationally accredited in treating teens with myriad of behavior, mental illness and substance abuse issues or those with a dual diagnosis requiring medication management. Elk river also treats teens that some residential programs turn away because the child is considered medically fragile.

Therapist Jane Baker is Elk River’s Family Services Coordinator and uses neurofeedback therapy through video games. Baker is certified in neurofeedback therapy and specializes in treating children and adolescents struggling with abandonment, trauma and abuse issues. “By reading the electrical impulses from the brain through sensors, the therapist can target a brain wave that the brain needs to make more of to be in balance,” Baker said. In other words, when a person learns the characteristics of his own brain waves, he can learn to change them.

Using a painless, non-invasive procedure, sensors are placed on the scalp and to each ear of the participant. Participates sit in front of a computer screen and play a video game – but not with a computer mouse – with their brain waves. The sensors pick up brain waves and provide feedback to move the objects on the computer screen. “Each time that frequency is created, a beep will occur and each beep will cause a video game to move forward,” Baker said. “Essentially, kids learn to play video games without their hands. This prospect is usually met with enthusiasm on the part of the participant.”

Patients of Elk River do not have access to video games or electronics of any type except for computers during school hours. So playing a video game is a treat – even without physical controllers.

“With neurofeedback, we can target ADHD symptoms, anxiety, or PTSD anxiety. The result is that the brain is able to change states with less effort and therefore is more in balance,” Baker explained. After the sessions, participates generally feel calmer and more in control. With each subsequent treatment, the benefits are typically more pronounced and last longer.

Therapeutic uses for the neurofeedback include addiction, anxiety, attachment disorder, autism, ADHD/ADD, chronic pain, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, depression, eating disorders, Epilepsy and others. There are many theories on why neurofeedback works, and Baker weighs in on hers. “I believe that the brain likes to be in balance and it likes to feel good,” Baker said. “So once it gets used to being in balance even for 30 minutes, it will fight to stay there.

“Much like we can achieve muscle memory by doing the same things over and over, the brain achieves muscle memory through adjusting in 30 minutes sessions multiple times per week and then is able to achieve this ability even when the stimulus of the beep is not present.”

Neurofeedback is a very specific form of another type of therapy called biofeedback.


Another type of therapy used at Elk River is biiofeedback which is a technique that teaches residents to use their thoughts to control their body. Using biofeedback therapy, residents gain more control over involuntary body functions like heart rate, skin temperature and blood pressure. For example, if an adolescent suffers from extreme anxiety, biofeedback therapy allows them to observe changes in their physical symptoms during periods of anxiety, i.e. increased heart rate, clammy hands, skin temperature, shallow breathing. Using this awareness and learning relaxation skills, individuals learn to reduce and manage stress responses.

During a biofeedback session, electrical sensors are connected to the body to measure heart and breathing rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, or muscle activity. During a therapy session, the therapist uses the information (feedback) about the body (bio) to help the patient identify changes in their body during episodes of stress or anxiety. Relaxation techniques are then introduced to turn down the brainwaves that activate in times of stress.

“It makes an impression on teenagers when they can literally see the difference that a therapeutic technique can make on their body,” Baker said.

For more information about Elk River Treatment Program, call 866-906-TEEN (8336).