Neurofeedback and ADHD Coaching
Neurofeedback, sometimes called EEG biofeedback, is based on the understanding that the brain produces various types of brain waves in response to the electrical brain activity being emitted at the time. Brain waves vary depending on the current mental state of the person. For example, a person in a focused, attentive state will produce different brain waves than someone in a drowsy or daydreaming state.
Since research with ADHD individuals demonstrates low levels of arousal in the frontal lobe areas of the brain, neurofeedback treatment focuses on making the person aware of these brainwaves as they are being produced. Once the individual can identify the type of brainwave activity they are currently experiencing, they are taught techniques to consciously change it. Various software systems have also been designed to teach and exercise attention skills. These products are relatively new and preliminary research results are promising.
A company called Brain Train has developed two software products designed for evaluating ADHD symptoms and teaching the necessary attention skills. SmartDriver is a non-violent driving game designed to build cognitive skills and self-esteem in individuals, ages 5 through adult, who have difficulty processing information due to brain injuries, ADHD, visual processing disorders, or learning disabilities. SoundSmart was designed by a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist to improve listening skills, following directions, phonemic awareness (an understanding that spoken language is broken down into discrete sounds), working memory (the ability to retain information over a short period of time), mental processing speed, and impulse control.
Another company, SmartBrainGames, has collaborated with NASA to use EEG neurofeedback equipment that was originally developed for training astronauts. This system was revised to address the needs of children with ADHD, and helps children learn to monitor their attention and concentration levels. Two different game console systems operate using biofeedback techniques, the S.M.A.R.T. Home System and the S.M.A.R.T. Clinical System. The Home version can be used with most home television gaming systems. The Clinical version is designed for use by psychologists or other mental health professionals and can be adjusted to address the target ADHD symptoms expressed by different individuals. Research data examining the effectiveness of this technology look extremely promising. More information is available at: Playstation Neurofeedback Hybrid for ADHD Treatment or Smart Brain Games.
With this type of therapy, trained coaches work with individuals with ADHD to help them prioritize, organize, and develop life skills. Coaching is primarily used with older children and adults because of the level of cognitive development required to consciously focus on ADHD symptoms and strategies. However, an age appropriate and less cognitively demanding version has been used with younger children and shown some success.
ADD Coaching is aimed at helping clients be more realistic in setting goals for themselves by learning about their individual challenges and gifts. Since everyone has relative strengths and weaknesses, this approach can help people view their particular symptoms within a normalized context and thus reduce the ongoing sense of alienation that many individuals experience.
Distinct from individual therapy, coaching is a supportive, not therapeutic, approach that emphasizes spending more time during the day utilizing areas of strength, while minimizing the time spent struggling with areas of difficulty. Coaching is designed to teach concrete skills that address challenge areas such as focusing, note taking, or memorization. This approach can help provide individuals with a conscious awareness of their functioning on a daily basis and additional tools to manage their symptoms.
Life coaches have been around for some time. Actors, athletes and business people have long used coaches to help focus on specific aspects of their performance. Coaches work in a collaborative manner to help guide the person into improved performance. ADHD coaching is somewhat new. Although many ADHD coaches are very good, the training and experience of each can vary greatly. It is important to carefully inquire into the qualifications of anyone you might consider hiring.