I’m going to tell you my own story, because it’s not just about how and why I became a NeurOptimal® trainer. It’s really about anxiety and the difference NeurOptimal® can make for those who experience it.
It’s now around a decade and a half since NeurOptimal® entered my life and changed it dramatically. At that time I had been a psychotherapist for 17 years. My work was primarily helping people with anxiety, depression, trauma. That’s typical of what is encountered by a private practice therapist who doesn’t specialize.
It makes sense if you think that I might have looked into neurofeedback to add another tool to my work. In reality, that didn’t cross my mind until I was several sessions into my own training. My discovery of neurofeedback didn’t happen because I was looking for something new to use with clients. It happened because my life long problems with sleep had worsened with age, to the point where my friends had started looking at me and asking, “Are you all right?”
In my search for decent sleep I had tried many approaches and many medications. They either didn’t work or the side effects were worse than the symptoms. I tried alternative approaches, too. Nothing helped. A friend suggested neurofeedback. I had never heard of it, but I was willing to try.
With the help of the Internet, I found a NeurOptimal® trainer near my office. Very quickly my sleep improved. I had been waking up consistently around 3AM and then laying in my bed worrying for an hour or two. That unpleasantness stopped completely. As you can imagine, I was happy with the results. I felt better and looked better. When sleep improves, so do many other things.
Then something happened that was for a therapist even more interesting. One of the most common anxiety dreams
people have has to do with school. If you ask a roomful of people, “Which of you has had a dream where you’re back in school and you’re not prepared? You forgot there was a test. Or you left your books home. Or you can’t find the classroom,” about 70% of the people in the room will raise their hand.
I had those dreams, too, once or twice a year for all my adult life. I thought of them as a permanent fixture. Then after several NeurOptimal® training sessions something remarkable happened. I had this dream:
I was at home getting ready for school when I remembered that there was a major exam that day, and I’d forgotten to prepare for it. I started to get anxious, but then in the dream I stopped and instead said to myself, “Don’t worry. You know the material. You’ll ace it.” End of dream.
That was many years ago, and I’ve never had that dream again. I knew something special was going on. A decades old recurring anxiety dream had gone away without my doing anything consciously to create that change. Faces and names of clients who might benefit appeared in my mind. I knew I wanted to bring NeurOptimal® into my office.
I ordered a system and practiced on myself and my husband. Then I offered it to one of my clients. She sent a friend, who sent two people she knew. Now, it’s the bulk of my work, because it works so well.
NeurOptimal® is not a medical treatment. It’s training that typically produces results in the ways that are right for each person, whether that is depression, or problems with focus or sleep, or a desire to excel at a sport. Since we’re giving the brain information that allows it to better regulate itself, changes can manifest in a huge variety of ways. That said, anxiety remains a special interest for me.
Anxiety is miserable. If you’re identifying with this article, you know very well how true that is. It’s very rewarding to watch it reduce for clients. There’s not much that the central nervous system is involved with that I haven’t seen improve with NeurOptimal®, but lessened anxiety can be strikingly life changing.
So that’s how I became a NeurOptimal® trainer. If you have questions about that or about whether NeurOptimal® might be helpful with things you’d like to see change, please leave questions here on the blog, or you can email me.
Catherine A. Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback