Preface: If you are about to read this discussion about how to enter the field of neurofeedback (NFB) it is assumed that you know enough about NFB that you are considering becoming a practitioner.
If you are just at a place where you have heard about NFB and are interested about learning more about it, I suggest you consider doing the following:
- Do an internet search to read what people are saying about the field, to see research articles, etc.
- Speak with any NFB practitioners you know.
- Contact practitioners you do not know but are ware of locally or through the internet and contact them to see if they would be willing to speak with you about NFB. I think you will find that most people in the field are friendly and eager to help others enter the field.
Your first steps in Neurofeedback
Entering the field of NFB can seem like a daunting task. Consequently, it is helpful to eventually find a mentor and/or a group of community providers who can help to guide you through the process. More about that later. The initial step is typically to take an introductory course that will review the history of the field, underlying theories, an introduction to the training process, etc. It is recommended that the course be accredited by the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA). Courses accredited by BCIA are approved to meet the 36 hours of didactic training in accordance with their education blueprint. If you are going to take a course, you may as well take a BCIA accredited course. This will give you a thorough introduction to the field and you will then have the 36 hours needed for certification if you decide to proceed towards becoming certified.
The initial step is typically to take an introductory course that will review the history of the field, underlying theories, an introduction to the training process.
Choosing Which BCIA Accredited Course to Take
Currently there are more than a dozen United States based BCIA accredited Didactic Programs. There are several things to consider as you try to choose which one you will take.
- If you know the type of equipment you plan to use it would make sense to take a course that includes an introduction to using the equipment you either already own or are relatively certain you will purchase.
- If you do not know what equipment you will be using considering the following points can be helpful:
1. You can review some or all of the list of BCIA Accredited Programs on their website and see which one(s) resonate with you.
2. Don’t hesitate to contact the individual(s) offering a course to get more information and a personal “feel” for how the course is apt to be. Also, visit the instructors’ general website pages to gain more information about them and their approach.
3. Ask friends and colleagues who are in the field for their opinions.
4. Don’t hesitate to contact the head of BCIA, Judy Crawford. Explain to her your background and plans and she might be helpful in narrowing your choices of a course.
-An opinion to consider- The neurofeedback field is similar in ways to the field of psychotherapy. There are several approaches to NFB just as there are several schools of psychotherapy. The key is to find an approach that fits your personality, world view, philosophy of science, etc. While there are many diverse approaches they are based on a clinical foundation. My opinion is that the better you acquire the foundational knowledge and skills, the better you will be able to eventually choose which additional approaches t add to your NFB repertoire in the future. If you agree with this opinion then you should seek a course that clearly focuses on basic higher frequency, one and two channel NFB training that has been around the longest, has the most research supporting it, etc. In other words, hold off on learning much initially about such recent approaches as Z-score training, SLoreta training, full cap training, etc. Otherwise stated, be confident in how you walk before you try to run.
- As mentioned in the “Initial Step” above, it can be helpful to become a part of a group or a Community of providers. If you will not be practicing as part of a group of NFB providers,
You should evaluate which of the courses you are considering also emphasizes becoming a part of a NFB community that they support after your initial training is completed.
-An opinion to consider- Once completed, the BCIA certification process should give a provider basic, entry level skills needed to begin to offer NFB training to select, non-complicated clients/patients. It can easily take an additional 6-12 months to reach a level of competence and confidence where one is ready to train a more diverse clientele. Being a part of a group or community where it is easy t ask questions, get guidance, get support, etc. greatly facilitates the learning process.
After completion of the BCIA accredited Didactic Program What Do I Do?
After the training course you will want to:
- Train your own brain
- Train family, friends and colleagues
- Find a mentor (and a clinical training group)
- Continue your education
To continue with the BCIA certification process you will want to pursue meeting the remaining certification requirements. These are available on the BCIA website (BCIA Requirements) and are outlined below.
- Mentoring- practical skills and training to include:
- Ten sessions of self-regulation (i.e. you train yourself and send the printouts to your mentor and discuss).
- One hundred patient/client sessions where you are running a complete session.
- Ten case presentations following a client from intake through discharge. These cases might be clients you have not yet reviewed with your mentor or cases presented to you by your mentor or through a webinar or class presentation.
- A university equivalent course in neuroanatomy taken with in the past fifteen years.
How much initial cost should I expect to pay to enter the Neurofeedback field?
The pricing that follows is meant to give an idea of an average estimate of the initial costs:
- BCIA accredited course $1,100 (range $750-$1400)
- Equipment and Software $5,000 (range $3000 to $7000)
- Neuroanatomy course $250
- 20 hours of mentoring $3,000 (range $100 to $200/hr)
- 5 Webinar case reviews $250 (to meet 5 of 10 cases required)
Remember, this is a rough estimate to give you an idea of the initial cost.
-an opinion to consider- When buying equipment you should try to compare “apples to apples” as much as possible. There are inexpensive systems out there, but they will be “basic systems”. As you spend more money you are often paying for equipment that is better engineered (making it more user friendly, more effective and less prone to problems). You also begin to get additional flexibility to do additional types of protocols (e.g. coherence, 2 or 4 channel, etc.) when you become ready to add techniques to your NFB training repertoire. This is where it can be helpful to have one or more people in the field to help to guide you to what makes sense for you.
What Sadar Psychological and Sports Center Offers.
In the prior paragraphs I have tried to offer general information and advice to help someone interested in entering the filed of NFB. What follows is an explanation of what our office offers should you elect to enter the field using our services.