There are many techniques out in the world that are called neurofeedback. Interestingly, some are not even neurofeedback in the strict sense of the word. So it can be confusing. Plus some are cheap and some you can do yourself at home. So why choose ILF Neurofeedback?
Well, I thought I would let the developers of this technique speak to this very point. They have been with this for decades. They have taken a very unsophisticated yet effective technology and developed it into a highly sophisticated and immensely more powerful tool for regulating brain function. It has been a long and hard struggle for them along the way, but they so believed in the benefits that they stayed the course and persevered.
This first piece is from Kurt Othmer, son of Siegfried and Susan. Siegfried has been responsible for the scientific and engineering aspects of their approach, while Susan has been the driving force of developing clinical protocols. Kurt focuses on the business end of the EEG institute. He is very passionate about what his family has created and neurofeedback is in his bones. He recently posted a comment on a chatboard, and with his permission, here is what he has to say about ILF Neurofeedback:
“How do you answer a client who asks if there are cheaper ways to get neurofeedback that might be just as effective? And what are all these other systems and methods out there? Similar questions appeared here on the chat board recently. I thought I’d share an answer I wrote privately this morning on the topic…
“I say keep it positive. As far as I’m aware, the method we use today is the strongest available neurofeedback method. If we knew of something stronger, we’d use that. What makes us different is that we are first and foremost parents and clinicians. We aren’t driven by an engineering agenda, so our goal isn’t to push a specific technology while ignoring, explaining away, or just bamboozling everyone to hide any negatives in that technology.
“Instead, our focus on strong clinical outcomes has given us the freedom to use whatever we want technically in order to get the best clinical results we can find. In that vein, we’ve worked with (and I’ve sold each, and you can still see our clinical philosophy and innovations inside of) basically every serious FDA regulated neurofeedback device sold in the field. And, we continue to change, test and adapt our work constantly.
“Our guiding principle through the use of every new technology and method that’s come along has been the strength of the clinical results. And, with this focus on clinical strength, the work we offer today requires a licensed healthcare professional with up-to-date training. That’s ever more crucial with each passing year.
“A tool like the Muse headband, in contrast ($176 on Amazon), is not designed to be “strongest” but more designed to be available to everyone. With that goal in mind I think they’ve done a very good job. So, I generally tell people that if the Muse changes your life, at a price tag under $300, you should totally do that! If you need a professional and something more serious, then this work we do today is the best tool we know of. The Muse really just promotes itself for basic meditation at this point, and that’s really not what most of the clients who walk through our doors are looking for.
“Yes, there are a lot of methods and devices between those two poles, but most of that I would classify as simply old versions of what we do currently. That even includes putting a brain map marketing wrapper around our older work. (Most of those brain-map techniques do a big fancy map but then just use one site and one frequency like CZ-SMR).
“Then, there is a whole crop recently that is actually “stim” technology like pulsed electricity or pulsed magnets but are using the term “neurofeedback” for some reason. Those are entirely different and shouldn’t be considered part of this conversation.
“That includes things like Iasis, HPN, Lens, Neurofield, PEMF, rTMS, tDCS, etc. We often refer people in our clinic to the Alpha-Stim which is also pulsed electrical micro-current. It works great along with ILF Neurofeedback but is by no means a replacement.
“All these tools have value, but then, so do meds. None of that should be considered to be an exact replacement for bona fide neurofeedback, and really shouldn’t share the same name and description.
“And then there are simply some scams or even some good technologies in the hands of real scammers, so, keep moving on if you work with a therapist and you’re not seeing the results you want or expect.
“So, keep it positive. It’s also our goal to help clients achieve the best results they can at this point in the evolution of the field, even if that’s somewhere else or through a combination of things.
“We aren’t trying to make it expensive either, but to provide this quality of work in the hands of attentive licensed healthcare professionals is often not the budget option. We’ve looked for ways to make this more affordable and scalable. But, there really isn’t a cheaper solution for most of the people who walk through the doors of our clinic.
“If a client wants to try some yoga classes, meditation classes, or a Muse headband before they try this more serious work, I’m all for it! But our work is available when they are ready to try something a lot stronger than those.”
A day later, Siegfried followed up on Kurt’s thoughts. With his permission, here are his thoughts:
“It’s a good thing that many choices are available when it comes to neurofeedback, and it’s also good to respect the wishes of the clients if they have only modest objectives for their training. But we should not be defensive about what we offer.
“The reasons clients have only modest objectives for the training are likely two-fold: first, modest objectives are all that they have heard about–or are prepared to believe–or feel entitled to expect; secondly, they actually have no idea what good [brain] regulation is.
“We see this among the clinicians who come [to us] for training and are surprised by their strong response to the training. They had over-estimated their own self-regulatory status.
“I know, for example, that I don’t hear in music what a true musician hears. And I know that a professional wine taster experiences wine differently than I. There is no point in pining for their sensory sensibilities and powers of discrimination.
“But good self-regulation is within my grasp, and that would be an aspiration for many more if only they knew what they are missing. So clinicians should not shrink from proselytizing on behalf of good [brain] self-regulation as a priority in people’s lives.
“And one more thing. It is not only a matter of reaching objectives that satisfy the self. Relationships also matter. So often we hear that siblings, parents, wives, and husbands are more aware of the positive changes than the trainee him/herself, and more grateful. So it would not be out of place to inquire about how the potential client feels about the quality of his or her relationships to significant others. Who among us wouldn’t wish for some improvement along those lines. . . . “