What happens in Neurotherapy?
A focus on your difficulties
Neurotherapy focuses on the difficulties and challenges you may be experiencing, following the onset of a neurological problem or since a brain injury. Neurotherapy focuses on the impairments to your thinking, emotions, cognitive skills or your behaviours, which may limit your everyday activities, work tasks or social interactions. Neurotherapy focuses treatment on one or more of the following interventions.
1. Assessing cognitive difficulties
Some times it is difficult for people to put into words what their difficulties are. By assessing your cognitive functioning, this can help pin point where your problems are located. Cognitive skills include memory, attention, concentration, reasoning, planning and problem solving abilities. In a cognitive assessment a variety of tasks are used to assess your cognitive skills, some assessment activities involve spoken tasks, and others involve pencil and paper based tasks.
2. Identifying symptom triggers
Neurotherapy also focuses on identifying and understanding the behavioural, cognitive, emotional or social triggers, which may disrupt the nervous system causing a range of difficult, challenging or unpleasant symptoms.
3. Re-establishing previous behaviours
Neurotherapy is also concerned with helping you re-establish previous behaviours, skills and activities, which may have become difficult to undertake since the onset of your neurological problems, or since a brain injury. Neurotherapy helps you re-establish behaviours, skills and activities, by breaking these down into simple components, and then building up complex behaviours, skills or activities through a gradual process of step by step practice schedules.
4. Learning to know how to do things
Since the onset of a neurological problems or brain injury, some people report problems knowing how to do things. Everyday cognitive skills such as remembering, concentrating or attending to things, reasoning, planning or problem solving may become impaired. Neurotherapy is concerned with improving the management of your cognitive impairments. Neurotherapy helps you design a strategy, which will then assist you with managing an impairment. Through targeted practice and tailored prompts, neurotherapy then aims to help you to make the strategy second nature, so that you are able to re-gain the skill of ‘knowing how to do things’.
- In neurotherapy you are actively involved in the therapy, and are expected to complete self-help tasks between sessions
- Sessions are weekly lasting 50 minutes. Although sessions are mainly conducted in my therapy room or online, some sessions can also be conducted in other settings
- Sometimes conducting therapy in a setting which will trigger your neurological difficulties can be helpful, because I can then help you learn to manage such reactions in real life situations
The benefits of neurotherapy
Neuroplasticity is the brains capacity to change and alter its structure and function. Evidence from research studies into cognitive rehabilitation, point to the role of re-establishing previous behaviours through practice routines, and learning how to manage cognitive impairments in allowing neuroplasticity to be nurtured.
Manage physical symptoms
By understanding the behavioural, emotional, cognitive or social triggers which disrupt the nervous system, neurotherapy can then begin to help you explore how best to manage the physical symptoms associated with these disruptions.
Evaluate strengths and abilities
Often a brain injury or a neurological condition can lead to mild, or severe challenges to every day routines, tasks and activities. Neurotherapy can help you begin to re-assess these challenges, by helping you focus on develop your remaining strengths and abilities.
Learn to cope and make adjustments
Neurotherapy can also help you develop the awareness needed to make the adjustments to your life concerning the challenges you are facing. By addressing your beliefs about coping, neurotherapy can help you learn to cope better with the changes you are facing.
Improve skills in 'Knowing how to do things'
Skills concerned with ‘Knowing how to do things’ are connected to a wider set of abilities called executive skills. Executive skills consist of the following skills: setting achievable goals, planning the steps needed, beginning work on your goals, monitoring your progress and adjusting your plans if needed. Neurotherapy can help you identify the executive skills you are having difficulties with. Neurotherapy can then help you to explore various techniques, so that you can then begin to re-establish these skills in your every day life.
Improve attention and concentration
Attention is an important cognitive skill which allows us to learning and remember things. Often when people have problems with their attention skills, they can find it difficult to concentrate on activities such as reading a book, studying or having multiple conversations. Neurotherapy can help you identify the types of attention you having difficulties with, then help you to explore techniques so that you can begin to re-establish your ability to concentrate on things in your every day life.
Improve memory skills
Often people can have problems with one or more of the following different types of memory. 1) Immediate memory (information taken in by your senses), 2) Short term memory (information from the last minute, hour or days), 3) Long-term memory (things that happened in the past), 4) Prospective memory (remembering things for the future), 5) Verbal memory (remembering events using words), 6. Visual memory (remembering images or pictures), 7) Motor memory (remembering physical skills such as riding a bike), 8) Procedural memory (remembering sequences of things, such how to drive a car). Neurotherapy can help you identify the different types of memory you having difficulties with. Neurotherapy can then help you to explore techniques, so that you can begin to re-establish your ability to remember things in your every day life.
Manage emotional and behavioural changes
Neurotherapy also focuses on the emotional and behavioural changes you may be experiencing, concerning a neurological problem or since a brain injury. Some of the emotional changes people report can often include anger, a lack of motivation or fatigue, depression, anxiety and a sense of bereavement due to the losses brought about by changes and challenges to your everyday life. Sometimes people also find themselves behaving inappropriately, or differently in socially settings or with friends, family or at work. Neurotherapy can help you identify the emotional or behaviour changes which you are struggling with, and then help you learn to manage these emotional or behavioural changes.
Which models of neurotherapy do you use?
My approach to neurotherapy is grounded in both cognitive rehabilitation therapy (CRT), and also cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). I draw on thinking from Sohlberg & Mateer’s integrative neuropsychological approach to cognitive rehabilitation. I also draw on cognitive-behavioural models and techniques developed by Arron Beck. I also use second and third wave CBT models including meta-cognitive (MCT) approaches developed by Adrian Wells, compassion focused therapy (CFT) developed by Paul Gilbert, and principles developed from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
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