Does Neurofeedback Therapy Help With OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a neurological disorder that can have a devastating effect on a person’s day-to-day life. This condition is marked by obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions that are disruptive to daily activities. People with OCD may also experience severe anxiety with their symptoms.

Neurofeedback for OCD is a safe and effective treatment aimed at reducing the intensity and frequency of a patient’s OCD-related symptoms. While there is no cure for OCD, neurofeedback therapy can help patients achieve improved control of their thought and behavioral patterns so they can have a higher quality of life.

For over 40 years, the Drake Institute has been using advanced treatment technologies like neurofeedback to help thousands of patients achieve lasting results.

During neurofeedback therapy, you’ll learn self-regulation that enables you to achieve healthier brain functioning and a reduction of symptoms.

This article will discuss how to retrain your brain from OCD with neurofeedback therapy and everything else you need to know about neurofeedback for OCD.

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Long thought to be a psychological disorder, recent studies have discovered that OCD is linked to dysfunctional brain activity

As its name implies, this condition is marked by obsessions (unwanted ideas or thoughts) that leads some individuals to act on compulsions. Dwelling on unwanted thoughts or committing repetitive behaviors is something most adults have experienced.

However, for people with OCD, it can be nearly impossible to stop those thoughts or refrain from acting compulsively at times.

Symptoms Of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Symptoms of OCD come in two categories: obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions are unwanted, persistent, often disturbing thoughts, images, or urges. Common obsession symptoms may include things like:

  • Fear of touching people or things people have touched
  • Images of yourself committing a violent act
  • Constant doubts that you left the stove or a curling iron on or that you forgot to lock the door
  • The urge to avoid triggering situations 

Compulsions are repeated acts or rituals used to combat obsessions, reduce anxiety or prevent something bad from happening. Common signs and symptoms of compulsions may include things like:

  • Repeated hand-washing, despite damage to the skin
  • Turning on and off light switches or stove to ensure they are off
  • Repeatedly checking that doors are locked
  • Counting actions or objects 

What Are The Causes Of OCD?

As with other brain-based disorders, OCD is not fully understood. There are several theories that seek to explain what causes the brain dysfunction linked to OCD.

Genetics may play a role, but scientists have not yet been able to identify the precise genes responsible. Behaviors and thought patterns typical of OCD can also be learned if you grow up around family members exhibiting them.

Certain risk factors could influence your likelihood of developing OCD:

  • A stressful life event can trigger changes in the brain as it tries to adapt to stressors and trauma, causing intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors.
  • A family history of OCD may indicate a higher risk of developing the disorder.
  • OCD may also accompany other mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
  • OCD may also be seen more frequently in individuals suffering from Tourette’s Disorder.[i] 

What Is Neurofeedback & How Does It Work?

Neurofeedback therapy is an effective treatment for various brain-related conditions, like Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, anxiety, depression, OCD, and more.[ii]

Neurofeedback works by teaching patients how to regulate their brainwave activity, and our staff will guide patients through training/treatment designed to shift their abnormal brain activity towards more typical, healthier patterns.

Because this treatment is self-generated, patients may experience a long-term reduction of symptoms.

Is Neurofeedback Therapy Safe?

Neurofeedback therapy is a safe and effective treatment for a number of conditions, including OCD. Neurofeedback does not rely on any invasive procedures or medications to achieve results. Additionally, there is no external stimulation applied to the brain.

Neurofeedback therapy only measures and displays brainwave activity, much like a thermometer measures and displays temperature without altering it.

How Can Neurofeedback Therapy Help With OCD?

Neurofeedback therapy is a self-generated process that helps patients achieve more normal brainwave patterns in order to reduce symptoms. You will experience more control over your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions as you learn improved self-regulation through neurofeedback.

As you learn to regulate more optimal brain functioning through a neurofeedback treatment protocol, you’ll experience less stress and anxiety as your symptoms reduce. Neurofeedback can provide results without the risk of side effects from medication.

Over time, your brain can improve its neural connections and pathways, resulting in a reduction of obsessions and compulsions of the disorder.

So does neurofeedback help with OCD? As long as it is administered by a qualified professional with appropriate experience it can help reduce OCD symptoms.

How The Drake Institute Uses Neurofeedback Therapy To Treat OCD

For the last 40 years, the Drake Institute has used neurofeedback therapy to treat various debilitating disorders, like ADHD, anxiety disorder, PTSD, stress, Autism, and more.

Though OCD can be challenging to manage and treat, the Drake Institute has helped patients reduce their associated symptoms, all without invasive procedures or medications. Instead, our focus is on helping patients gain the skills needed to guide their own brain activity towards healthier brain wave patterns, so they can have a reduction of symptoms for a better quality of life.

Our treatment includes brain mapping, neurofeedback therapy, and neuromodulation.

Brain Mapping

Before neurofeedback can begin, the brain must be mapped out. Brain mapping allows our Medical Director to locate any areas of dysregulation that could be contributing to their condition.

First, 19 sensors are placed around the scalp. These sensors measure the brainwave activity happening in specific regions of the brain. Recordings of the activity are then run through an FDA-registered normative reference database of same-age, asymptomatic individuals. Then, our Medical Director can identify any areas of the brain that show abnormal brainwave activity that can be linked to symptoms.


Once the brain has been mapped out through a qEEG, and areas of abnormal brain functioning identified, a neurofeedback treatment protocol is designed specifically for that patient’s needs.

Again, sensors are placed on the scalp to translate brainwave activity into a visual and auditory format on a computer screen that the patient can easily understand and work with.

The screen becomes a critical part of the neurophysiological feedback loop to enable the patient to improve brain functioning through operant conditioning.


In some instances, a patient may need extra help achieving the desired brainwave patterns. Neuromodulation is a technique we use to do this. As with the rest of our treatments, it is non-invasive and non-drug.

For neuromodulation, we use advanced neurostimulation technology to stimulate the patient’s brainwaves to a more desired pattern.

In short, the process of neuromodulation is similar to receiving coaching from a tennis instructor: when teaching a student how to swing, the instructor may physically move the student’s arm and wrist through the proper motion over and over. This motion is wired into their nervous system and muscles through repetition, allowing the student to eventually do it on their own.

Similarly, neuromodulation shows patients more proper brain functioning whereby the brain can adapt and start doing it on its own.

Contact The Drake Institute Today!

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a challenging condition to manage and live with. If you’d like to learn how to retrain your brain from OCD, reduce symptoms, and improve your quality of life, get in touch with the Drake Institute today by calling 800-700-4233 or filling out the free consultation form.





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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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