Neurofeedback Therapy Side Effects: Is Neurofeedback Safe?

Neurofeedback is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of neurophysical disorders, including ADHD, autism, anxiety, stress, insomnia, PTSD, depression, and more. 

For more than 40 years, the Drake Institute has utilized neurofeedback therapy to help thousands of patients achieve symptom relief without the use of prescription medications

Compared to drug-based treatments that often rely on trial and error, Drake’s brain map-guided neurofeedback therapy protocols are much safer and carry far fewer risks of side effects and complications. [i] 

That said, many patients who come to the Drake Institute still ask, “does neurofeedback therapy have any side effects?” 

In this article, we’ll explain what neurofeedback is, how it works, and whether there are any neurofeedback therapy negative side effects.

If you or someone you know is seeking treatment for neurophysical disorders, fill out the contact form below or call us at 1-800-700-4233 today for more information. 

What Is Neurofeedback & How Does It Work?

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback and is sometimes referred to as EEG Biofeedback. 

Biofeedback treatment measures and records physiological functions like hand temperature, sweat gland activity of the fingers, muscle tension, and heart rate variability. Neurofeedback therapy, on the other hand, measures and records instantaneous activity in the brain. 

Once the patient’s brain activity has been measured and mapped, our medical director will design a neurofeedback procedure that’s tailor-made for the patient’s unique needs linked to brain map findings. 

Why is mapping the brain’s activity important? 

The brain consists of multiple interconnected networks, including connections within networks and between networks, and for it to work optimally, these networks must communicate with one another efficiently and completely. 

If communication between these networks breaks down, patients can suffer a whole host of symptoms, including an inability to process language effectively, pay attention, regulate their emotions, maintain proper sleep, and more. 

Neurofeedback therapy aims to help patients “shift” their brains into a healthier functioning pattern needed for concentration and focus.  

What Is Neurofeedback Therapy Used For?

Neurofeedback therapy is used to treat multiple conditions that stem from abnormal functioning in the brain, including:   

Is Neurofeedback Therapy Safe?

Neurofeedback is safe and effective for treating the above-mentioned disorders and their accompanying physiological and neurological symptoms. What’s more, it’s safe for both children and adults.

At the Drake Institute, every neurofeedback treatment protocol is tailor-made by our medical director to achieve the best results for each patient.

These protocols do not include external stimulation or medications. Instead, neurofeedback is simply a means of measuring and displaying a patient’s brainwave activity so the patient can make healthy desired changes.

Does Neurofeedback Therapy Have Any Side Effects?

As long as the neurofeedback therapy is conducted by a well-trained clinical professional, the treatment is safe. Essentially, neurofeedback negative side effects are very infrequent and typically transient.

Why Is Neurofeedback So Important?

Neurofeedback therapy is an invaluable tool for treating a myriad of disorders that have their roots in brainwave dysregulation. These conditions, including ADHD, autism, depression, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and more, occur when the patient’s brain activity is dysregulated.

To understand how this works, let’s look at each brainwave type that contributes to a person’s overall mental health: 

  • The fastest brainwaves are beta waves. The brain produces these waves during activities that require sustained focus, task completion, and executive functioning. An excess of beta waves can lead to anxiety and sleep disturbances.
  • The next highest frequency waves are alpha waves, which are essential for relaxation. They occur at the highest amplitude at the posterior part of the brain during closed-eye meditation.
  • Theta waves are lower frequency waves that show up when you are daydreaming or drifting off to sleep.
  • Delta waves are the lowest frequency brainwave and occur predominantly during infancy and during deep sleep. 

Dysregulated brainwave patterns, where certain waves occur at the “wrong” times, can cause problems with memory, follow-through, emotional regulation, executive functioning, and sleep. 

The goal of neurofeedback is to improve these brainwave patterns to a more functionally appropriate and efficient pattern to improve concentration, executive function, and other essential cognitive functions. 

If left alone, dysregulated brainwave activity can lead to a reduced quality of life and a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. 

How The Drake Institute Uses Neurofeedback

For the last forty years, the Drake Institute has been pioneering the successful use of neurofeedback therapy to help thousands of patients reduce symptoms, improve the quality of their lives, and reduce the need for medication and other interventions. 

We do this through a combination of brain mapping, neurofeedback, and in some cases, neuromodulation.

Brain Mapping

The first step in neurofeedback treatment is called qEEG brain mapping. 

The brain-mapping process begins with our staff placing 19 sensors around the patient’s scalp to measure their brainwave activity. 

The patient’s results are then compared to an FDA-registered reference database of asymptomatic, same-age individuals. This comparison allows us to identify networks or regions of the brain that are experiencing dysfunctional connectivity or that are under or over-activated that are linked to symptoms.   

After the brainwave data is collected, our medical director can then create a tailor-made treatment protocol to address the patient’s individual needs and brain dysregulation.  


With the patient’s brain functioning mapped out and the dysregulation identified, neurofeedback treatment can begin. 

Again, sensors are placed around the patient’s scalp to measure brainwave activity in real-time. This information is then shown to the patient in a form they can understand on a computer screen and also via auditory feedback. 

In one example, the patient’s brain waves are translated into a computer game where a car is driving down a highway. 

As the patient shifts their brainwaves to a healthier functioning pattern, the car stays in the correct lane and an auditory tone is triggered. The sound is repeated every half second to reinforce this pattern, and with practice, patients can learn how to achieve these desirable patterns without the help of real-time feedback. 

It is like learning to balance on a bicycle with training wheels, where eventually you don’t need training wheels to achieve proper balance. 


In some cases, neuromodulation may be required to help the patient achieve the desired results. 

Neuromodulation is a non-invasive treatment that uses NeuroField technology to gently stimulate the brain into a healthier, more functional pattern. Essentially, neuromodulation guides the brain to recreate preferred brainwave patterns, much the way a tennis instructor may guide his student’s arm through a proper swing. 

The brain adapts to this healthier pattern from the stimulation and starts creating it on its own.

Contact The Drake Institute Today!

For more information about how neurofeedback therapy can offer you symptom relief from adhd, autism, depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, or other disorders, call the Drake Institute at 1-800-700-4233 or fill out the free consultation form below.




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“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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