by Nicole Arzt
Addiction is complicated. The human brain may be even more complicated.
And, yet, research continues to evolve in both of these fields, as the addiction epidemic continues to unfold. As specialists continue to fine-tune addiction treatment, they are turning more and more towards the benefits of neurobiology.
After all, we’re learning that what is happening in the brain may have more to do with addiction and recovery than we ever really thought.
Neurocoaching has been successfully used with individuals struggling with addiction, mental health disorders including depression and posttraumatic stress disorders, traumatic brain injury, and cognitive development. It has also been used with individuals who have been categorized as “treatment-resistant,” as in unresponsive to other modalities or suggestions.
What is Neurocoaching?
In a nutshell, it is an advanced computer program designed to decode the mysterious human brain. Essentially, this software registers the individual’s brainwaves and filters these waves into unique and specific ranges. From these findings, the program creates a report indicating which treatment and techniques will be assigned and used. Basically, the software determines what will be beneficial for the individual to work on (i.e: impulse control, relaxation, focus, and concentration, etc.) through examining the activity recording in this brain movement.
In each session, the trained facilitator actively records brain wave movement. He or she will share these findings with the client, in the belief that the work will be collaborative and transparent. As a result, both the individual and the facilitator have access to instantaneous feedback.
With this collaboration and these findings, the individual receives active encouragement towards choosing more desirable (over undesirable) actions and behaviors. In addiction treatment, this tends to sharpen impulse control and prosocial behaviors, which are associated with increased success for sobriety.
Programs Used in Neurocoaching
Neurocoaching prides itself on its versatility and flexibility, offering an assortment of materials customizable to the individual’s needs.
Ever watched a movie with a psychologist? Played a trivia game? Tried your luck at a video game? In neurocoaching, all of these are fair game. In fact, they may play a significant role in your overall treatment.
Typical programs can include movies and videogames, which focus on concentration, relaxation, skill-based training, and appropriate decision-making (depending on the individual’s protocols).
These levels are measured through continuous active brain monitoring (i.e: the game will stop if it registers that you aren’t focused. This unwanted consequence increases the individual’s motivation to engage in the wanted behavior (focus and concentration). Through continuous sessions focusing on these skills, the individual increases his or her desired behaviors.
In conclusion, neurocoaching provides a valuable tool in treatment planning for individuals struggling with addiction. It allows for both structure and flexibility and creates an opportunity for the client to monitor his or her own progress in an environment that is both safe and supportive.
For more information on the benefits of neurocoaching, check out our resident clinical psychologist, who has been successfully providing this valuable service to many of our clients and alumni throughout their journeys.