Can I do neurofeedback training at home?

Questions about home training arise often. It can be more convenient and less costly to do training at home. For a long time, equipment available for home use gave less than satisfactory results, and there was considerable concern about teaching people to train their brains at home. That mindset has started to shift with better and more user-friendly technology.

Many licensed health professionals still won’t support clients doing neurofeedback at home. Most feel more confident about producing consistent benefits to clients at their office. They can make adjustments to the training more easily and monitor it more carefully. Having users do this at home is much harder. They’ve heard of some of the challenges and failures of sending units home with clients. It’s much harder to support users at home.

Some clinicians do support home training. For certain situations, it can be very helpful. Who might do well and who might not isn’t always obvious. Most experienced clinicians agree that success for the client is harder to predict if they are training at home. There are exceptions to this, and a growing number of people are successful with home training supplemented with clinician supervision.

Doing neurofeedback training at home should be done with careful supervision and support. Clinicians need to be very experienced before offering home support.

Guidelines for Home Training:

  1. Learning brain training should be done at the clinician’s office first.
    The chances and degree of success  from training in a clinician’s office is generally more assured. On the other hand, if you are very distant, or there are other reasons that home use makes sense, then it’s worth considering. If you’re relatively close to a neurofeedback provider or can spend time with a provider to learn how to best meet your or your family’s needs, you can learn how to run neurofeedback sessions in concentrated bursts and do a bulk of the training at home. Home units are worth considering, and they aren’t right for every situation. Discuss this carefully with a qualified clinician.

  2. Consider talking to other home users who have worked with your clinician.
    If you find a clinician who supports home training, you may want to ask for references of 2 or 3 individuals they’ve trained at home. In particular, you’d like to talk with clients who have already done 6-12 months of home training. Find out their successes and their challenges. While every situation is different, it will give you some idea about the process and the level of support you can expect from the clinician. Some clinicians will not want to give out names because of confidentiality. However, it is possible for a clinician to have a client sign a waiver that would allow him or her to talk with you, though it does take effort.

  3. The clinician should do a series of training sessions in the office first.
    Most experienced clinicians want to know how the individua lresponds to neurofeedback training and what seems to work before they send clients home to train. That could take at least 10-20 sessions of training. It’s much easier to support someone at home when you have experience training them. It often takes careful observation and fine-tuning of training parameters to produce the optimum training effect, even within a professional office.

  4. Training.
    If a clinician provides support to home users, careful training should be provided to ensure that the individual can be effective at training. Not everyone is ideal to run a neurofeedback session. The quality of the hook-up and the ability to assess when the connection could be a problem must be included in the training. We recommend an impedance measurement (numeric measure of the quality of electrode hook-up) be used to ensure a quality hook-up.

  5. Office visits.
    You should talk regularly with your clinician to discuss progress and questions. Any adjustments to the training approach can only be made based on feedback. Periodically, most clinicians ask that their clients visit face-to-face as some things just don’t come across well on the phone or via email. We’ve seen a few clinicians discuss using remote cameras on the Internet in place of visits. In some cases, the clinician can run the session remotely while the client is at home after they’ve hooked themselves to the sensors.

  6. Family dynamics.
    Not all situations are a good fit for training. For example, if parents are training a child and have high expectations of performance, even if those expectations are never stated, neurofeedback training could be counterproductive. The person running the session is part of the equation and, in a sense, part of the feedback loop.

  7. Getting feedback on progress.
    Adjustments in training can, at times, be made based on careful feedback from the client or patient. In a family, or in close relationships, one can be “too close” to be able to carefully note subtle changes. It’s much easier to be assessed by an independent third-party trained to look specifically for effects and progress from the neurofeedback training.