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  • Dr. Tom Woodman

How to Help Those Who Fail To Launch

Statistics concerning “highly dependent adult children” living with their parents has been increasing for the last 20 years. This situation has been coined a “failure to launch” (FTL) and typically involves males between 25-34 years of age. For many in this situation, it is a difficult one as this dependence often persists despite having tried coaching, training, and therapies of various kinds. Neurofeedback therapy (NFB) is a very promising intervention that many have yet to discover.


There are typically a collection of symptoms that are associated with FTL. Common to this condition is a lack of direction and organization. Additionally, worries, fears and depressive tendencies usually are present, and sleep, energy and motivation are frequently compromised. As this condition continues, it is not uncommon for these people to question themselves and their potential. Simply put, they just can’t figure out how to move forward in life, and lack the confidence to do so.

What is interesting is that when looking at these issues, they are very similar in their presentation to another common condition called “Burnout”. The signs of burnout are summarized in the picture below, and as you can see, many of these signs are frequently observed in FLT situations.


In burnout, there are emotional and physiological stressors related to the person’s employment that actually results in physical changes to the brain itself. These changes involve the limbic system, amygdala, cingulate cortex, anterior frontal cortex and in the emotional processing centers in the brain. These physical changes alter how the brain operates from a neurological perspective, specifically with what is called the “resting connectivity status” of the brain (which can be viewed in layman’s terms as how someone is “wired’). One way of assessing this it to look at the person’s qEEG analysis (also referred to as a “Brain Map”), which provides information about their dominant brainwave patterns.


Like FTL, burnout – according to the literature – is a difficult condition to recover from, with traditional interventions not being as effective as they are in other conditions. This difficulty is believed to be related to the physical and neurological changes that have resulted from this condition. This is where NFB has shown great promise. Neurofeedback therapy is form of exercise that isolates the neurological networks that produce different brainwave patterns, and it has been shown to result in positive neurological changes within the brain itself. These changes have been shown to shift the resting connectivity status within the brain and allow the person to produce more desired patterns of brainwave activity. The combination of these changes often results in very positive changes in the patient. NFB is like improving the hardware of your personal computer so the software can run more efficiently.


When someone suffers from FLT (and burnout as well), it is hard to motivate them to help themselves or use the tools that have previously been taught by therapists. This again is where NFB shows great promise. When doing NFB training, sensors are applied to the head and the therapy is delivered while the person is watching their favorite television show. The combination of being passive and enjoyable typically results in much greater compliance when compared to those other therapies. Neurofeedback training has been shown to strengthen neurological networks within the brain and gradually shift the resting connectivity status towards a more ideal one.


We have been offering NFB since 2010, and we routinely observe people overcome their struggles and fears as worries diminish; we see greater organization and less procrastination as executive functions improve; mood and energy increase as sleep becomes more restorative. And for those who have been through therapy or coaching, they begin to be able to access the tools and techniques that they were previously taught with greater ease and success. In short, we see the shift away from their dependence and watch them strive towards their goals of independence.


If you wanted to learn more, and how we can help you, please call (203)316-8212 and we can explain the steps in getting started up.


About us:

Dr. Tom Woodman and Dr. Laura Pardue are both Doctors of Chiropractic, and their office Brain & Body of Norwalk is devoted to optimizing brain and body function. They are both Board Certified in Neurofeedback and Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coaches. Dr. Woodman is post-graduate faculty for number of educational institutions and teaches continuing education seminars on functional brain development, neuroplasticity and neurofeedback. Dr. Pardue has devoted much of her professional training towards a variety of mind-body interventions, including EFT, TBM and NET. We provide one-on-one, Doctor-attended qEEG-based neurofeedback either in-office or through our at-home rental program. Our mission is to help people help themselves, and we provide a number of services that support our patients to that end.


How neurofeedback works: the sensors attached to the person’s head are monitoring real-time brainwave activity, and the person gets visually rewarded when their brain produces more desired brainwave patterns (the TV is brighter and easier to see when the brain produces the right patterns). Soon, the brain realizes that it is influencing which experience the person receives, and tries to keep the movie brighter. This increases the “firing frequency” of these networks, making them stronger and more efficient. As this process is repeated over time, there is a gradual shift in the default pattern of activity and symptoms begin to lessen.


References:

  • Kratzke IM, Campbell A, Yefimov MN, Mosaly PR, Adapa K, Meltzer-Brody S, Farrell TM, Mazur LM. Pilot Study Using Neurofeedback as a Tool to Reduce Surgical Resident Burnout. J Am Coll Surg. 2021 Jan;232(1):74-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2020.08.762. Epub 2020 Oct 3. PMID: 33022395.

  • Williams RA. Neurofeedback System for Potential Orderly Care of Surgical Residents with Depression and Burnout. J Am Coll Surg. 2021 Jan;232(1):80. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2020.09.017. PMID: 33308769.

  • Patil AU, Lin C, Lee SH, Huang HW, Wu SC, Madathil D, Huang CM. Review of EEG-based neurofeedback as a therapeutic intervention to treat depression. Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2023 Mar;329:111591. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2023.111591. Epub 2023 Jan 13. PMID: 36682174; PMCID: PMC9837232.

  • Hou Y, Zhang S, Li N, Huang Z, Wang L, Wang Y. Neurofeedback training improves anxiety trait and depressive symptom in GAD. Brain Behav. 2021;11:e02024

  • Scheinost D, Stoica T, Wasylink S, Gruner P, Saksa J, Pittenger C, Hampson M. Resting state functional connectivity predicts neurofeedback response. Front Behav Neurosci. 2014 Sep 24;8:338. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00338. PMID: 25309375; PMCID: PMC4173810.

  • Chatterjee, Rangan Happy Mind, Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Well-Being 6/14/2022




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