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Tree roots

"Maybe you are searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots." 
- Rumi

Before you contact me:

Check my therapy guidelines.

REQUIREMENTS

I treat patients whose primary symptoms are related to mental health or the health of their brain, including problems with mood, emotion regulation, behaviour, and cognitive function. You can see the detailed list of conditions I treat here. 

THERAPY TARGET

The treatment is based on your therapy goal. If you need support in this process, we are happy to work this out together. After about 10 to 15 sessions, there will be an exchange about the therapy process and any course changes. 

COMMITMENT

Treating your underlying condition can take a lot of time and resources. I work primarily with patients willing to commit to long-term recovery and invest time in building skills and resources in addition to therapy sessions. 

Registration for neuro- or biofeedback therapy can be booked either by email or directly online. Please use the link below. 

To register for psychiatric-psychotherapeutic treatment, please see the next section. 

Registration for Psychotherapy with Stefan Schmidinger

If you have an interest in psychotherapy, kindly review the following information and complete the registration form. To submit an inquiry, please send the form via mail to Holistic Practice, Stefan Schmidinger, Vogelsangstrasse 7, 8006 Zurich, or through email to drschmidinger@hin.ch. Please be aware that registration does not guarantee a therapy placement.


Psychotherapy typically encompasses three phases: initial diagnosis and evaluation of the root causes of distress, exploration of the biographical context surrounding symptoms, and the development of competencies to address the identified issues.

Taking the step to seek help for your mental health is crucial. However, to derive the maximum benefit from psychotherapy, active participation and motivation are key. You are the expert on your own life, and sharing your experiences and emotions is integral to tailoring your treatment. While understanding your problem is a positive start, lasting change requires the incorporation of new strategies into your daily life. To achieve this effectively, consider dedicating an hour each day, in addition to weekly therapy sessions, to practicing new skills and reinforcing positive changes. By doing so, you can fortify your resilience and attain enduring results.

  • What is neurofeedback?
    With neurofeedback, we harness the brain's adaptability and neuroplasticity. Its ability to learn and change. Neurofeedback is a non-invasive and scientifically proven therapy that trains the brain to perform better. Neurofeedback increases neuronal flexibility, stability and strengthens the brain networks. As the brain learns better self-regulation, these changes are sustained and further developed throughout life, as the brain is adaptable. Neuroscientists at UCLA (University of California) developed this therapy over four decades ago. They proved that neurofeedback can help stabilise the brain waves of people with epilepsy, reducing seizures and, thus, patients' dependence on medication. Patients also noticed improvements in their mood, mental clarity and sleep. Today we know that the benefits of neurofeedback go beyond a single diagnosis. Symptoms disappear as the brain improves its efficiency, stability and flexibility. The ability to be calm, productive, happy, motivated and alert, and to sleep well, comes naturally. A healthy nervous system has good self-regulation. This means that it is flexible and balanced and reacts appropriately to the environment and its demands. For example, the brain calms down before bedtime to fall asleep quickly and become focused and alert when concentration is required. The brain generates appropriate responses using a complex network of electrical activities in a system of timed neurological events. When this system is not functioning correctly, different areas of the brain operate at inappropriate levels of activity or excitation. This results in a state of dysregulation in which several symptoms or a single symptom may develop (e.g. anxiety, depression, hypersensitivity to pain, attention deficit, insomnia, lack of motivation, irritability, etc.). The person is asleep when the entire brain is at a very shallow level of arousal with normal function. However, at the other end of the spectrum, with the brain in a very high-arousal state, a person experiences a flight-or-fight response and feels fear or anger. Dysregulated areas of the brain show arousal patterns that are often too high (e.g. anxiety, anger, fear) or too low (e.g. depression, lethargy, foggy thinking), or both. Neurofeedback is a powerful tool that helps the brain find its optimal regulation. The brain gradually learns and begins to maintain the right equilibrium of arousal and timing, strengthening communication pathways (neural connections). Neurofeedback, also called EEG biofeedback, is an innovative, non-invasive, research-based approach to help teach the brain to function in a more balanced and healthy way. The patient receives real-time feedback on brainwave activity measured by sensors on the scalp. When brain activity changes in the desired direction of the NFB protocol, the person gets positive "reward" feedback. Rewards/reinforcements can be as simple as changing the volume of a song or as complex as a movie getting lighter or darker.
  • What is self regulation?
    A healthy nervous system has good self-regulation. This means that it is flexible and balanced and reacts appropriately to the environment and its demands. For example, the brain calms down before bedtime to fall asleep quickly and become focused and alert when concentration is required. The brain generates appropriate responses using a complex network of electrical activities in a system of timed neurological events. When this system is not functioning properly, different areas of the brain operate at inappropriate levels of activity or excitation. This creates a state of dysregulation in which various symptoms or a single symptom may develop - such as anxiety, depression, hypersensitivity to pain, attention deficit, insomnia, lack of motivation, irritability, etc. The person is asleep when the entire brain is at a very low level of arousal with normal function. At the other end of the spectrum, when the brain is in a very high arousal state, a person experiences a flight-or-fight response and feels fear or anger. Dysregulated areas of the brain exhibit arousal patterns that are often too high (e.g., anxiety, anger, fear), too low (e.g., depression, lethargy, nebulous thinking), or both. Neurofeedback is a powerful tool that helps the brain find its optimal regulation. The brain learns and begins to maintain the proper balance of arousal and timing, strengthening communication pathways (neural connections).
  • How do I influence brain activity?
    Neurofeedback harnesses the brain's ability to change itself through a process known as neuroplasticity. It uses the same process we go through when learning a new skill. Neurofeedback makes it easier to become aware of brainwave patterns, reinforces positive change and creates a more balanced distribution of electrical energy. In psychology, this learning process is known as "operant conditioning". Under normal circumstances, we cannot influence our brainwave functions because we cannot see or feel the brainwaves. In neurofeedback, brainwaves are presented to the client on a screen a few thousandths of a second after they occur. This immediacy allows the client to influence and change the brainwaves during a session through operant conditioning to recondition and retrain the brain. Neurofeedback is an automatic process that works best when the client is relaxed. This allows the client to experience the learning as it happens rather than focusing on gaining knowledge through excessive thinking.
  • How does a neurofeedback session work?
    The patient sits in a comfortable chair, and electrode sensors are placed on the scalp to read the EEG signal. This signal is sent to a computer, which interprets the information and sends "feedback" to a screen the patient watches. Through visual and auditory feedback, the patient learns whether their brainwave patterns are reaching a more balanced and healthy state. If the brain falls out of the preferred pattern, the feedback slows down or stops until the brain is back to a more efficient pattern. Over time, the patient's brain learns to produce this pattern more easily and independently. The neurofeedback training session usually takes 15-30 minutes of the scheduled 60-minute session. The rest of the time is spent reviewing symptom improvement and using various other techniques, depending on the patient's needs and treatment goals. These techniques may include psychotherapy, mindfulness/meditation exercises, relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioural therapy, skill-building exercises and psychoeducation.
  • How many sessions does it take?
    Neurofeedback training varies significantly from person to person. It depends on factors such as age, the type and severity of the disorder(s) being treated, and the client's compliance. The standard for neurofeedback is around 20-50 sessions, but the number of sessions can vary greatly. The treatment cycle can be divided into 4 phases: Learning, Automatisation, Stabilisation and Performance Enhancement. Each of these phases usually lasts 5 to 10 sessions. Training sessions at weekly intervals are recommended as the first three training phases are crucial for neuroplasticity and learning. When multiple diagnoses are present or complex conditions are being treated, it can be challenging to determine the number of treatment sessions required. Usually, the first improvements occur within the first ten sessions. After each treatment phase, brainwave assessments and other neurofunctional examinations can be performed to determine progress and to develop new goals and treatment protocols. Source: i-NFBF - Home (bioneurofeedbackinstitute.com)
  • What results can I expect?
    Each person's brain and the brainwaves it produces are unique. Therefore, the results will vary from person to person. The aim is for the brain to work in an optimal and energy-efficient state, i.e. self-regulation improves. The patient then feels, for example - more present and concentrated - calmer and more patient - less reactive or irritable - better able to cope with emerging problems - less symptomatic
  • How long do the effects last?
    The results of neurofeedback are cumulative. After the first few trainings, the improvements you notice may fade after a day or two. After further training sessions, the changes will last longer. Once the training is finished and your brain has integrated the improved self-regulation, the benefits should be stable. Setbacks can occur after difficult, stressful situations, such as a severe illness, accident, surgery or significant hormonal changes. In this case, it may be helpful to return for refresher sessions.
  • What side effects or risks can be expected?
    Neurofeedback is a non-invasive, passive learning process that must be performed by a qualified professional familiar with the condition being treated. In over 50 years of using neurofeedback training, no long-term adverse effects have been noted. Occasionally, a person may notice a short-term increase in symptoms as the brain gets used to a new pattern. These symptoms usually disappear or can be easily minimised by adjusting the treatment protocol. Many patients choose neurofeedback because it has no adverse, toxic or psychogenic effects compared to medication. Mild side effects can sometimes occur after a neurofeedback session. Patients may feel tired, unfocused or occasionally anxious. Headaches and sleep disturbances may also occur.
  • Can I use neurofeedback if I'm taking medication?
    Yes, neurofeedback works even if you are taking medication. However, some medications, such as benzodiazepines or substance use, can interfere with therapy.
  • What should I avoid or pay attention to before the training sessions?
    - Caffeine: 8 hours before - Nicotine: 3 hours before - Alcohol: 12 hours before - Marijuana: 72 hours before - Over-the-counter medicines, other substances with dependence potential, herbal teas and/or other herbal preparations: 72 hours before Please wash your hair and scalp on the morning of the session, and do not use styling gels, hair sprays, hair treatments, conditioners, oils or other preparations that may interfere with the connection of the sensors to the scalp. The hair must be completely dry before the appointment. Please brush and/or comb your hair to remove tangles, clips, pins, hair extensions, hairpieces, wigs, and any other headgear. Please remove any jewellery.
  • Can I do neurofeedback if I'm in psychotherapy at the same time?
    Definitely yes! Neurofeedback can be an effective complement to psychotherapy, but it is not a substitute. As the brain functions better through neurofeedback training, emotional and behavioural problems can be solved more efficiently with psychotherapy.
  • What are brainwaves?
    Brain waves represent cortical activity and occur at different frequencies or speeds. They are described by various characteristics. In most neurofeedback training, the therapist monitors the frequencies, amplitudes and length of the brain waves. A frequency is the number of times that a wave repeats within a second, also known as cycles per second or hertz (Hz). Some brain waves are fast, others slow. These brain waves are described in terms of EEG or frequency bands. The classic names for these bands are delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma. Each frequency band is associated with different mental states and cognitive activities. DELTA Delta waves are very slow and occur between 1-4 Hz with high amplitude. We experience these brain waves in a deep, restful sleep. These brainwave patterns also occur when certain brain areas are "out of sync" and can be associated with learning disorders. THETA Theta waves occur between 4-8 Hz and are also slow and large. They represent a relaxed, daydreaming state associated with mental inefficiency. ALPHA Alpha waves occur between 8-12 Hz and are faster and smaller than theta waves. They are linked to a state of relaxation and readiness to react and "shift gears" when needed. The person feels comfortable and calm in this state. BETA Beta waves are fast, small waves between 12 Hz and 30 Hz. It is the state the brain is in when we listen and think while analytically solving problems, judging, deciding and processing information about our world. But the rhythm can also occur during stress, trauma and anxiety. GAMMA Gamma waves occur above 36 Hz and are small high-speed waves. These waves are associated with highly focused attention and help the brain process multiple pieces of information from different brain areas.
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