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About BrainChild Psychology and Neurotherapy

BrainChild Psychology and Neurotherapy prides itself on being at the forefront of cutting-edge, evidence-based psychological practice for children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioural disorders. BrainChild Psychology and Neurotherapy offers breakthrough non-invasive, drug-free treatment to help children and young people to develop self-regulation and changes in neurological arousal, often lacking in traditional psychotherapeutic techniques.

Dr Rachael Macdonald offers the following sevices:

  • Assessment
  • Brain Mapping
  • Neurotherapy
  • Interventions for Psychological and Behavioural difficulties

Psychological Assessment

Dr Rachael specialises in diagnostic assessment of infants, children and young people with cognitive/intellectual, learning/academic, neurodevelopmental, and neurobehavioural difficulties, with an additional focus on brain functioning. Dr Rachael conducts comprehensive specialised assessments, using the latest diagnostic assessments and technologies, to discover the underlying causes behind a child’s presenting problems. This enables specific individualised and targeted interventions to be developed and recommended for each child. All assessments and interventions are informed by Dr Rachael’s training and research in applied neuroscience, and she uses the latest advances in neurotechnology to enhance neuroplasticity, performance, self-regulation and functional outcomes.

BrainChild Psychology and Neurotherapy offers comprehensive assessment in the following areas:

  • Cognitive/Intellectual ability (Impairment and Giftedness)
  • Psychoeducational/Academic achievement
  • Learning Difficulties
  • Neuropsychological functioning
  • Memory and Learning
  • Visual and Auditory Attention
  • Executive Functioning
  • School readiness
  • Infant development
  • Behavioural functioning
  • Adaptive behaviour
  • Sensory functioning
  • Auditory processing

Brain Mapping

The use of state-of-the-art brain mapping technology is what sets BrainChild Psychology and Neurotherapy apart from other psychology services in the Ballarat region. Brain Mapping is a procedure that measures the electrical activity (EEG) in the brain using sensors attached to the scalp in order to investigate areas of neurological dysregulation and functional asymmetry. Several brain sites are measured to identify the presence of any brain function anomalies, which can help parents, carers and professionals to understand the underlying cause associated with the child’s symptoms and behaviours. In other words, this means that the child’s brainwaves are measured to find any imbalances in the brain, which helps to pinpoint the cause of the child’s issues.

Brain Dysregulation can occur for many reasons, including compromised antenatal and developmental conditions, concussion and traumatic brain injury, trauma and congenital/birth disorders. Brain Mapping is not a labelling procedure. It is particularly useful for identifying neurological over-arousal and under-arousal, along with brain instability. Brain Mapping also ties directly to identifying the exact brain locations and brain wave ranges that require treatment to restore normalised functioning. In cases of ADHD, Brain Mapping can also be useful in identifying the forms of attentional and behavioural difficulties that respond well to stimulants (such as Ritalin) and those that do not respond well or are made worse by such medications.

Neurotherapy Intervention

What is Neurotherapy?

Neurotherapy, or Neurofeedback Therapy as it is also known, is a form of behavioural operant conditioning using EEG brainwaves, that helps the child learn to self-regulate their own brain activity. Neurotherapy uses computerised brain-training games linked to the child’s own brainwaves, to train increases in helpful brainwaves whilst simultaneously decreasing unhelpful brainwaves. Neurotherapy is usually a very engaging form of treatment which children enjoy. When the brain is properly regulated improvements in many areas may be seen, including sleep, mood, focus, attention and concentration, learning, memory, behavioural control, sensitivity, fatigue, trauma symptoms and general efficiency. Generally, the beneficial effects of treatment are maintained long after the child has finished treatment, with some studies demonstrating continued benefits 10 years after treatment.

Neurotherapy is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to treatment. It is an objective, data-driven procedure based on an individualised comprehensive assessment and brain map. It uses specific brain-based treatment protocols, designed to suit each child’s needs. Neurotherapy treatment is designed to treat specific symptoms of brain dysregulation, not diagnostic labels. For example, in the case of a child diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, the Neurotherapy treatment protocol would be to correct the neurological under-arousal that gives rise to the child’s attentional and behavioural difficulties, rather than just attempt to manage the behaviour difficulties after they have already occurred, or mask the problem by using medications. Often medications can have a diffuse effect on brain function, causing unpleasant side-effects for some individuals.

Neurotherapy is a useful adjunct to traditional psychological therapy, and can complement the medical management of children with psychological, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Neurotherapy can also be used as a “peak performance” treatment for individuals who are already functioning well but would like an extra boost to their learning and concentration, or artistic and sporting performance.

Benefits of Neurotherapy

According to Professor Frank H. Duffy, paediatric neurologist at Harvard Medical School, Neurofeedback Therapy should play a major therapeutic role in the treatment of many difficult problems. He states: “In my opinion, if any medication had demonstrated such a wide spectrum of efficacy it would be universally accepted and widely used”. Reference

The American Paediatric Association (November, 2012) approved Biofeedback and Neurofeedback, and rated them as a Level 1 or “best support” treatment in terms of effectiveness for treating children with ADHD.

Neurotherapy is particularly beneficial for children and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A meta-study by Arns et al (2009) indicated strong effectiveness in reducing inattention and impulsivity symptoms, and medium effect sizes for hyperactivity symptoms. Reference

Neurotherapy is beneficial for treating Neurological Dysregulation related to:

  • Arousal
  • Sleep/wake cycles
  • Cognitive processing
  • Sensory processing
  • Inhibition of motor responses
  • Moods and emotions
  • Memory

Psychological Intervention

BrainChild Psychology and Neurotherapy offers intervention for Cognitive, Learning, Psychological and Behavioural difficulties across the developmental lifespan. Dr Rachael is skilled in a variety of psychotherapeutic techniques, including:

Cognitive/Learning Difficulties:

  • Executive Functioning skills treatment for ADD/ADHD
  • Problem-solving skills training

Parenting Issues/Behavioural Difficulties:

  • Accredited Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) provider for both Enhanced Triple P and Triple P for children with Developmental Disorders
  • Other parenting and behavioural management strategies, based on current neuroscience and whole-brain learning theory.

Social/Emotional Difficulties:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Mindfulness-based interventions
  • Social Skills training
  • Play Therapy
  • Emotional Release Counselling

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