Excercise your brain – meet Peak Performance Neurofeedback of Arkansas
July 15-21, 2019
By Becca Bona
The digital age puts the human brain in a constant world of noise – from never-ending news cycles, to ever-changing technology and developments – it’s hard for the brain to keep up. What if you could switch all that noise off? What if you could, as Kristi Sullivan Patton says, “Just be for 33 minutes?”
There’s more to “just being” than taking some quiet time in an undisturbed, calm location – there’s the relatively new to central Arkansas wellness practice known as neurofeedback.
Developed in Canada and also known as electroencephalogram biofeedback (EEG), Psychology Today defines neurofeedback as a type of wellness therapy that provides immediate feedback from a computer-based program. The goal of the program is to asses a client’s brainwave activity.
The magazine goes on to describe the process – “The program then uses sound or visual signals to reorganize or retrain these brain signals. By responding to this process, clients learn to regulate and improve their brain function and to alleviate symptoms of various neurological and mental health disorders.”
Patton had never heard of this type of therapy herself, until she was in the middle of a deep depression a little over three years ago. Fast forward to present day and she is successfully heading up her own venture to offer to others what she found – a way out with neurofeedback.
“The reason that I invested in this – and it was a big investment – is because I did it myself and I saw it work,” she said. “I believed in it.”
The journey to Peak Performance Neurofeedback of Arkansas
A native Arkansan, Patton has spent most of her life in the Natural State – often working in sales in one form or another. In 2016 she was in the midst of a few life changes that caused her to take a step back. “I was very, very depressed and very done,” she said. “I spent the rest of that year trying to figure out what to do with my life.”
Patton’s husband directed her to a high school friend of his who was offering a cutting edge form of therapy known as neurofeedback.
“I went and met with Missy Sorrells, at the time she was the only person in Arkansas that was doing this,” Patton said. “It basically turned everything around for me without having to take more medication.”
This was a true turning point for Patton – one that gave her an idea for her next step.
“It brought me out of my depression,” she said, “And it gave me back some energy and drive.” At that point Patton chatted with Sorrells about potentially joining the team, as Sorrells was having a hard time meeting her growing client demand.
Patton took the plunge and ventured out on her own in 2018, opening Peak Performance Neurofeedback of Arkansas.
“It’s been very slow-going,” she explained. “I haven’t done a huge amount of marketing, it’s been mostly organic type growth. But I am getting really positive feedback from the clients I am seeing – they’re seeing some really positive changes.”
Delving into Neurofeedback and how it works
Patton utilizes a program called NeurOptimal® to facilitate the neurofeedback process. The process itself isn’t invasive, doesn’t involve chemicals, and isn’t time-consuming.
Clients visiting Patton can expect an initial minimal consultation process, along with the task of setting their goals – what they might hope to get out of the practice. To chart changes over time, clients turn to journalistic-style notes. After multiple sessions, clients can look back over various entries and began to track actual changes.
“The shifts that take place can be very subtle, and as you start to get into your new normal, you forget how you felt at the beginning when you first came in,” Patton explained.
Neurofeedback is not a medical diagnosis, but rather a set of sessions meant to train the brain toward healthier reactions in everyday life. Psychology Today explains it as, “A method of managing or regulating the workings of the brain so it functions in a healthier manner. This is achieved by repeated training sessions using a computerized neurofeedback program that teaches your central nervous system to reorganize and regulate brainwave frequencies.”
The process has been known to help in the treatment of behavior disorders, attention deficit disorders, autism, ongoing developmental delays, acquired brain injuries, birth trauma, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other stress-related problems.
Prehistoric humans often dealt with situations that caused a fight, flight, or freeze response – be it a saber tooth tiger or some other deadly threat. These days, humans are put in this frame of mind by stressors that shouldn’t. For instance, getting stuck in a traffic jam, reading something negative on the internet, or even losing a phone.
“We’re constantly battling fight, flight, or freeze,” Patton said. “We’re in it all the time and it wears us out – it causes mental stress, emotional stress, it can even cause physical symptoms.”
The goal with neurofeedback is to train the brain to re-correct out of that base state to the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for executive function and cognitive reasoning skills.
Patton notes that while neurofeedback is not a cure for anything – it’s a healing process that can alleviate negative symptoms people experience while on traditional medicine as well as the disorders and maladies mentioned above.
Internationally, it is also a tool for professional athletes. “Neurofeedback can give you a competitive edge. Imagine yourself as a professional baseball player, standing at the plate with a 95 mph fastball coming at you with only a fraction of a second to judge it,” said Patton. “If you have ultimate mental clarity and focus, you can make that decision faster and be more accurate.”
CEOs and others under pressure (such as a students studying for the LSAT or even the ACT) can also benefit from fine-tuning their focus with neurofeedback.
While on the rise internationally and across the nation, neurofeedback continues to slowly grow in popularity and acceptance in central Arkansas.
Patton sees the process in direct correlation to living an over-all healthy lifestyle – with a holistic approach in mind. “I think it’s a perfect complement to talk therapy,” she said. “I want more people to know about it. […] I would love for teachers, coaches, and medical professionals to know about it and embrace it and to look at it as a possible first line of defense, maybe prior to medication when possible.”
For more information visit Peak Performance Neurofeedback of Arkansas on Facebook.
Sources: Psychology Today, NeurOptimal®
A type of therapy relatively new to central Arkansas known as neurofeedback is on the rise. The wellness practice aims to teach self-regulation of brain function. Discover more about the process, meet Kristi Sullivan Patton (pictured above), and found out why she’s recently opened Peak Performance Neurofeedback of Arkansas. (Photo by Becca Bona)