Until the 20th century, much of the scientific community believed the idea that once fully developed, the human brain was incapable of being changed. However, as scientific methodologies evolved, new research began to indicate that the human brain is able to be changed throughout the course of individuals’ lives as a result of their environment and experiences. This exciting discovery is called neuroplasticity.
Too often, individuals suffering from eating disorders and other forms of mental illness make the false assumption that there’s something wrong with them—that their brain is somehow defective or permanently damaged. Thanks to the advancements made in neuropsychology, even people who have suffered for decades have a reason for hope.
Individuals dealing with an eating disorder tend to be anxious, obsessive, compulsive, perfectionistic, and highly self-critical. This tendency to be a perfectionist is often driven by the combination of anxiety and being conscientious to a fault. One of the many resources Avalon Hills provides is brain mapping. Brain mapping obtained from clients has shown a frequently occurring pattern of irregular brain activity within the frontal lobes of those who are suffering from eating disorders which contributes to feelings of being stuck or out of control. Such a pattern can result in a person feeling something is wrong, which drives anxiety up and causes an increase in self-defeating patterns aimed at reducing anxiety. This vicious cycle can be difficult to control without a proper understanding of the brain and appropriate help.
Upon arriving at Avalon Hills, every patient undergoes an electroencephalograph (EEG) that measures brain-wave activity. After consulting with a neurologist to interpret each individual’s results, the EEG data is then interpreted into a map of the patient’s brain-wave activity and compared against a normative database to determine any potential irregularities.
After building their personalized brain map, each Avalon Hills patient then receives a completely customized neurofeedback program. Neurofeedback is completely non-invasive and involves tailoring brain exercises to help people learn to regulate their emotions and gain control over their attention and focus in ways that can lead to improved functioning, a more positive emotional state, and enhanced peace of mind.
It has been proven that displaying this pattern in the brain and better understanding the way it functions, empowers the individual and assists in overcoming self-defeating patterns such as eating disorders.
Avalon Hills leads the residential eating disorders field in working with neurofeedback as part of an integrated approach to the treatment of eating disorders. Patients regularly participate in neurofeedback, in an effort to train their brains to function in a way that helps them find recovery from their eating disorder. As they become more proficient at training their brains, they are able to move in the direction of recovery. It is one more way in which we strive to help patients narrow the gap between how they’re living their lives and how they want to be living their lives.