The Benefits of Neurofeedback for the Traumatized Brain


Let me begin by saying I am a huge believer in the amazing benefits of neurofeedback for everyone. In fact, if you were around me daily, you would probably hear me griping about why neurofeedback is not done in every doctor and therapist office in the country, and the madness of insurance companies not wanting to pay for this very effective tool for so many ailments.

I was first introduced to neurofeedback this past Summer when I had gone to an “integrative” treatment center for trauma. As someone who was becoming more and more frustrated by the short-comings of talk-therapy alone, I was looking for something that would address the entire mind-body-spirit of my being.

I have experienced severe childhood abuse, which resulted in a lifetime of wrestling with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, and Anxiety.

Many of us would like to believe that once we escaped the childhood abuse, we are free to live a happy life. What most people don’t speak about is the lifelong affects severe childhood abuse has on a person’s brain and physical health, which contributes to the lifetime of struggling with various forms of mental illness as a result.

I have been in treatment for my severe trauma on-and-off for 28 years. I think during that period most people in the field of treating trauma would agree with me that they haven’t always known what they are doing with treating trauma.

Today, so much more research has been done to show more effective ways of treating trauma. For instance, EMDR has solid research behind it as a very effective tool to help many trauma survivors process their trauma faster, which means many people are not stuck with the aftereffects of trauma for their entire life. This is huge, but not always told or offered to trauma survivors. Though, to be fair, trauma survivors are more likely to stumble across EMDR than they are neurofeedback.

If you read a lot about trauma, or are in the field, you should be aware of the cutting-edge trauma experts like Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Levine, Dan Siegel, Pat Ogden, and Stephen Porges. There are a lot of other so-called experts out there, but most of them are what I would term “old school,” as they have not embraced the significant importance of addressing the mind-body-spirit when attempting to help people with trauma. They are sticking mainly to talk-therapy only as an approach, and this is a horrible disservice to those who have been traumatized.

I live on the East Coast, and found myself not making any progress with the swamp of trauma symptoms I was stuck in while I was doing extensive talk therapy only. I decided after doing a lot of research to head to California to get help with my trauma symptoms that were so severe I wasn’t able to function in my life. I was desperate as I had been in bed for 17 months, and generally not participating in my life,

After arriving in California, I quickly had an entirely new vocabulary for trauma treatments, and I was open to just about everything. I am tempted to go into all the different therapies here, but I want to stay focused on the neurofeedback. Neurofeedback therapy for trauma survivors was a given for every therapist and good trauma treatment center I looked at on the West Coast.

Ideally, when you begin neurofeedback, you want to get a QEEG or “brain map,” which is a snapshot of your brain and how it functions over a fairly short period of time (for me, it was 40 minutes under different scenarios). This brain map is so valuable because it can be compared to what a normal functioning brain looks like, and it can also be used to show that during the brain mapping period, your brain might look similar to someone who has anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, pain, depression, etc.

In my case, my brain map looked worse than even I expected, so it was a little overwhelming to sit with the results. I had done a brain map of my son who has some attention and sensory issues, so I had an idea what it was supposed to look like.  In layman’s terms. my brain showed a shit-storm of color in areas that should have shown up white, and my brain waves were extremely erratic and all over the place outside the normal range. For someone with complex-PTSD, this validates the daily symptoms we experience.

I learned a very important word called neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize and heal itself by forming new neural pathways. This concept is so, so important to think about when looking at healing trauma.

Once my rational brain came back online, I knew I could repair much, if not all, of what was wrong with my brain through neurofeedback.

Through only 15 sessions of neurofeedback, I came out of it with some extremely important results as a trauma survivor. I don’t know how else to put it, but my mind was stronger. I was no longer depressed. I had less anxiety and an easier time going to sleep. Most importantly to my overall healing from trauma, the 15 sessions put me in a place where I could regulate my emotions better, which means I could tolerate talking about the most difficult parts of my trauma, which is something I was not able to do prior to the neurofeedback.

The inability to tolerate difficult or overwhelming emotions is probably the single biggest reason why trauma survivors stay stuck in talk therapy and don’t make the progress they need to move on with their lives. Yet, my experience in the old-school trauma circles that dominate the trauma industry is that there is almost no mention or even knowledge about the benefits of neurofeedback for trauma survivors.

If I look today at all the mainstream trauma treatment centers in the U.S., there is no place that is currently utilizing neurofeedback despite the extensive research that supports its usage. The only places that seem to offer it are the places where your insurance will not pay, and you are expected to pay out-of-pocket $40-50k per month for treatment. That’s the only way to get intensive cutting age trauma treatment at this moment.

The good news is that you can find neurofeedback offered on its own in some outpatient settings. I live in a major city, and there are probably about 14 options listed on a Google search for people to pursue neurofeedback. Typically, if you have severe trauma, you can expect to do 30-40 sessions for the neurofeedback to stick for the rest of your life.

When I returned to my home city on the East Coast, I found an excellent neurofeedback provider, and I am really looking forward to updating you on the continued results I experience to lessen my symptoms and to help my brain function the way it is intended.


My hope is that you take away from this that neurofeedback works for many, many problems people struggle with. Besides the symptoms of trauma, it has been shown to help people with ADHD, Autism, Insomnia, headaches, Anxiety, Depression, and overall improved brain performance, which is why you will hear of Olympic athletes who use neurofeedback to enhance their performance.

Neurofeedback is not new and whacky, There is lots of science to support it. Don’t expect your doctor or therapist to recommend it, because that is not likely to happen. But, if you are feeling stuck or want to get better quicker, it is a no-brainer to take advantage of neurofeedback to help heal your brain.

And if you think your brain is just fine as a trauma survivor, let me mention when I took the brain QEEG, I was feeling relaxed and nothing was bothering me too much. But, what showed up on the QEEG was a huge amount of anxiety that I am so used to experiencing everyday that it did not seem like a big deal and was unnoticed by me. This unnoticed anxiety I am used to living with has already caused me some serious health consequences.


The bottom line, if you have the means to do so, look into neurofeedback and give it a try. It is easy to do, and the results can be life-changing. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit from a stronger functioning brain, even if you think you have no issues. If you have a severe trauma background, do it. It will save you years of talk therapy time and money, and will give you a better quality of life.



9 thoughts on “The Benefits of Neurofeedback for the Traumatized Brain

  1. Thank you. This hadn’t yet come into my consciousness. I wonder if you’ve had any experience with Somatic Therapy, Focusing, Hakomi, or the like? I’m at the very beginning of my “healing” journey and have never met anyone like myself to ask these questions of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I spent the Summer in California for treatment, which enabled me to have access to treatments that don’t exist in my state. Somatic experiencing was a big part of that treatment, and depending on the provider doing it, it was very helpful to me because I realized there that I am not present in my body nearly as much as I thought. They helped me get a much better connection to my body which is so important to healing for someone who dissociates a lot.
      Neurofeedback was a huge help to me. I didn’t understand the benefit of it until I had done about 10 sessions and started realizing my brain was functioning better. It would help me ease the PTSD symptoms and my overall anxiety on a daily basis, but it wasn’t until about 10 sessions went by that I could tell a cumulative affect.
      I struggle with EMDR, but they also offered brainspotting which was born out of EMDR and much better for DID people.
      I did a therapy called TRE, but not long enough to know if it was of any benefit for me, though I know some people swear by it.
      I have found Massage and acupuncture to be really helpful, too.
      I think the best route to healing is a mind-body approach.


      1. I agree with you about the mind-body approach – I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this. I feel as though I’ve wasted my entire life in basic talk therapy. I’m very intrigued by Neurofeedback and will look into the closest places to explore that treatment. I tried to start EMDR this winter but a very knowledgable therapist told me that I wasn’t ready, and that it would be better to start with PET (Prolonged Exposure Therapy) first. She said that especially in dissociative clients, EMDR can be pretty ineffective unless you’ve done a lot of ground work first. Have you had any experience with PET? I’ve just started seeing a Focusing therapist, and instantly felt more safe, believed, and validated than I ever have before. How much of that was the Focusing modality, and how much of it was simply the individual, I can’t yet say.
        Sorry for rambling. Thank you so, so much for your bravery.


      2. I haven’t done anything with PET. I will tell you that Brainspotting is supposed to be the best alternative to EMDR for people who dissociate. I haven’t done enough to know how effective it is. Somatic experiencing therapy is really helpful for me, but not a lot of practitioners here who do that. In California they are everywhere.


  2. Haven’t heard of Brainspotting, but I’ll check it out. Thanks for the tip – you are full of interesting advice. Maybe I’ll try a Somatic Experiencing therapist too. There’s a couple near me. Did you look specifically for a Somatic therapist who also specialized in DID?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been doing Neurofeedback (7 sessions over a weekend every month) for 20 months. I am able to see how I think better- lots of depersonalization still. I think I am so hypo-aroused and dissociative that I look calm when I am really blank. Do you know how NFB works with dissociative states? I see how it’s meant to calm the fire alarm system- I have tons of low level anxiety, but mostly suppress it and whenever I become aware of it, I automatically get rid of all feeling. I’m just not sure he’s tracking the parts of my brain involved in dissociation- he mostly tracks the sensory- motor strip left to right, and occasionally tracks frontal lobes to cerebellum. I stare at the screen- is there a signal that I should consciously be paying attention to? He just says don’t think, don’t try, just soft gaze.


    1. That is a lot of neurofeedback to do on a weekend!
      I know neurofeedback has helped me with some things for sure, but when my provider got into doing some deep work that I thought was good at first, it ended up destabilizing me because it brought down dissociative barriers before I was ready. Still, I do believe it is useful for everyone.


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