Neurofeedback attempts to undo changes to the brain caused by trauma. It works by helping the brain re-learn how to produce brainwave patterns that help it to function effectively.
The initial aim of the program is to help reduce the symptoms of refugee trauma such as anxiety, hyper vigilance and sleep difficulties. We then work with refugees to address issues around their experience of torture and trauma.
How Does it Work?
A specially designed computer game is used to help participants produce brainwaves in the ‘normal’ range. Participants are attached to the computer by a non-invasive electrode placed on their head. They are then helped to enter a state of deep relaxation.
Supported by a trained counsellor, participants learn how to ‘operate’ the computer game by producing brainwaves at particular frequencies. Brainwaves at frequencies outside the ‘normal’ range produce no positive result in the game.
After regular sessions practicing with the computer, participants eventually learn how to produce these brainwaves unassisted.
In the next stage, participants begin to address their conscious and unconscious memories of torture and trauma in a safe and controlled way. In becoming aware of these memories, and in learning to produce a different response in the brain to those memories, they start to regain control of their lives.
How successful is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback has been successful in treating people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder. Our own results show that the program is making a positive difference in the lives of refugee children and adults.
While sample sizes are still small, we have recorded improvement in more than 85% of participants.
These positive results have been confirmed by feedback we’ve received from parents, teachers, counsellors and others.
Catalyst, ABC TV’s science program, featured Neurofeedback at STARTTS in 2012. You can watch the video and read the transcript here.