Medical director of The Trauma Center in Boston, professor of psychiatry at Boston University, and director of the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Complex Trauma Network, Van der Kolk is recognized in the field for being a pioneer of once unconventional mind-body interventions, such as Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) trauma psychotherapy, neurofeedback, and yoga. Over the last 30 years, he has established a reputation as an iconoclastic critic of traditional approaches to trauma—especially Prolonged Exposure therapy, which he’s characterized as “among the worst possible treatments” for trauma, merely desensitizing people to their suffering, instead of healing them.
As a somatic therapy as well as a psychotherapist with my roots in trauma resolution that goes back 33 years, I fully concur with Dr. van der Kolk. Asking certain individuals who have been traumatized to re-live the experience, is akin to driving the memory deeper and having them experience it all over again. In my years of working with hundreds of people, I finally sought an approach that was non-aggressive/non-invasive, could feedback to the brain in its own language how it was spending energy, without ever directing it, and could assist the brain to do what it does well which is to re-normalize itself (physics term), or said another way, heal itself. Neuroplasticity is the science that has demonstrated that our brains are capable to learning and improving their survival capabilities from direct experience and improving their effectiveness or resilience in life.
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is a key figure in the trauma field and he uses neurofeedback in his center to treat people with traumatic stress and PTSD. He says, “I’ve witnessed breakthrough results in the treatment of trauma, abuse and neglect with neurofeedback.” This has been my experience as well in using NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback in my clinical practice these past 9 years. I have seen adopted children from both rise and China who has severe PTSD symptoms and although I am trained and certified in EMDR (one of the protocols Dr. van der Kolk uses), these children were so dis-regulated that it was impossible to ask them to even sit to process past events. I have also seen significant healing in regard to traumatic brain injuries and concussions, changes that are unseen in the medical world today.
NeurOptimal® has proven to be a significant tool in helping their brains resolve traumatic reactions that previously were impossible to ask. Because Dr. Val Brown, the developer of the NeurOptimal neurofeedback approach has actually owned, operated, taught and been certified on virtually every approach to neurofeedback in the field today, and his technological and mathematical prowess has allowed him to bring neurofeedback in the current physics reality which is non-linear, dynamical physics. You can read more on this on the website here.
Furthermore, NeurOptimal Neurofedback Personal System allows families to affordably train themselves and their children at a fraction of the cost of seeing a practitioner in their office. For under $19 a session, individuals and families are purchasing, or renting, systems and doing the training in the convenience of their own home to great benefit. We are educating people that we do not have to find work-arounds and coping strategies for traumatic stress reactions, we can help the brain to heal itself naturally and based on its own inherent design, and in a complete non-invasive, non-protocol approach.