21 Oct 2018

Neurofeedback: Good News and Bad News from Psychology Today

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Letter to the Editor:

“The good news is that Jim Robbins’ recent story on EEG neurofeedback motivated readers to trawl the internet to learn more.  We were surprised when several found us at…..to ask about the …and book we are producing on Dr. Eugene Peniston and Alfonso Bermea, and about their success in treating alcoholism, drug addiction and PTSD.

The bad news is that Robbins’ use of the phrase “alpha-theta protocol” in the story is misleading and a disservice to your readers.  The story contains dangerous factual errors and causes confusion on several important points.

Robbins’ claim that do-it-yourself tinkering with an “alpha theta neurofeedback machine” qualifies him to report about this therapy is irresponsible and dangerous.  His self-administered afternoon of knob twirling bears absolutely no resemblance to the careful multi-phase three week, 30 session, intensive training sequence offered by legitimate Peniston-Kulkosky therapists.

Plunking a quarter into a juke box is not the same thing as becoming a violinist in the London Philharmonic.  This training is about self-mastery profound enough to cause lasting changes.

The first breakthrough Peniston-Kulkosky study was published in 1989.  Experimental subjects, after an intensive three weeks of training, showed significant decrease of stress-related hormones in the bloodstream compared to control subjects, and scored significant increases on psychological tests for creativity, warmth, and self-control, with significant decreases in depression, anxiety, and aggression.

Three years after training, 80% of the experimental subjects were still drug and alcohol free.  I interviewed those same men ten years later, and they remain drug and alcohol free.

It is troubling that Robbins’ story showed little concern for accurately reporting even basic facts:  The clinical studies were conducted at Ft. Lyon, Colorado, not in Texas, and from 1986 to 1989, not 1982.  Alfonso Bermea is a talented clinician who used these techniques with violent youth in Texas, and now works in Detroit, MI, not Shawnee.

Robbins’ stunt should stand as a warning to your readers.  Anybody can plug in a machine, but that is a far stretch from reflecting competence as a qualified clinician using this technique.  Because the success rate is so high with the Peniston-Kulkosky procedure, many who have not been trained by Peniston have been tempted to make up their own variations of alpha-theta without bothering to go through the 15 years of research and publication which gives the Peniston protocal the respect it deserves.

The Peniston-Kulkosky protocol is the only published, peer-reviewed EEG alpha-theta neurofeedback protocl for substance abuse and PTSD which has been proven effective with carefully controlled multi-year longitudinal studies.

Dr. Charles Stroebel, Yale trained M.D., Ph.D., and past president for the Association for Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, has called for a large scale national replication study of the Peniston-Kulkosky Protocol as a top priority for our national drug policy.     Patric Hedlund, Dendrite Forest, Inc.”

Neurofeedback research and protocols have continued to improve over the last twenty years.  Dr. Vicki is board certified in neurofeedback and utilizes the protocols that are most beneficial for you based on qeeg findings.