Dear Gunilla, thank you for taking your time today to talk about Neurofeedback. Let`s get start right away: What fascinates you about Neurofeedback?
I think what is so fascinating about Neurofeedback is that we can do so much with so little. We can interact with the brain in a way we couldn’t imagine a few years ago. And it is of course a very interesting therapy option. I am learning every day and even after so many years working with Neurofeedback it is sometimes simply overwhelming what you can achieve with Neurofeedback. So, working with Neurofeedback, especially with ILF Neurofeedback is interesting, challenging and it is inspiring to see the effects. There are no things you cannot repair. There is no stagnation. Neurofeedback is sometimes therapeutically challenging - but in the most positive sense.
How did you get involved in Neurofeedback?
About 10 years ago I was working as a teacher in physical education in Spanish and I met all these kids in school that had problems. So my best friend from childhood, Dr. Bodil Solberg who is the one in Norway working with Neurofeedback, introduced me into it. I was very sceptic at the beginning but I saw the effects and the potential to help children with problems in learning for example. So, I took a closer look and was attending the first Neurofeedback course in Norway in 2009. And after the course there was no doubt. It was clear that Neurofeedback is something I MUST do (laughs). My career as a teacher was left behind. I started to work with Neurofeedback and since then I just couldn’t stop.
You run the Nordic Center of Neurofeedback based in Malmö. What exactly do you do there?
The center essentially does two things: we offer therapy for patients on a private basis and it is a training center where we give courses for professionals who want to learn Neurofeedback.
In my private practice I work with people of all ages. A lot of young people and children but also adults and with different indications. This is my everyday work and I see that during the years there are more and more people who get to know about Neurofeedback and ask for it. We have a high demand. And it's really just incredibly satisfying to see how you can help people with Neurofeedback.
But I also love to teach Neurofeedback and thus contribute that more and more people can benefit from it. Both for therapists by giving them an effective tool and of course by giving more and more people access to it.
So, in 2012 I helped EEG Info Europe to arrange the first international course in Malmö, so then since 2012, every year we now have courses in Malmö. In the first 5 to 6 years, they were international, so we had a lot of attendants coming from all over the world to Malmö for the Neurofeedback courses. And when I got the opportunity to become an official partner of BEE Medic and working as EEG Info Europe lecturer in 2017, since then I’m doing courses in Stockholm and Malmö in Swedish language.
And from this, a very important connection to the Red Cross here in the region has emerged.
Can you tell us more about this connection and the Red Cross working with Neurofeedback? How did the cooperation come about?
With word of mouth. My neighbour, a psychologist, was the chief of the Red Cross in Malmö and she heard about Neurofeedback from me. She said that this is something they must try, because of the many traumatized people they are working with. And in 2014/15 she sent one doctor and one therapist to our Neurofeedback course and started right away to offer Neurofeedback to those who really need help. Of course, this quickly made the circuit. The Red Cross Center in Stockholm heard about it and they sent a couple of people to the next course, which also got very interested in Neurofeedback. And in 2016, they made a pilot study about Neurofeedback and symptoms of PTSD in traumatized refugees with the title “Can Neurofeedback reduce PTSD symptoms in severely traumatized refugees” which was with 5 Persons from 5 countries. It was a small study but it shows the effects and also two books in Swedish refer to this study. Unfortunately, the Red Cross in Malmö is not doing any Neurofeedback anymore, because these persons who attended the course are not working there anymore.
And especially in Sweden and Norway, Neurofeedback is still in its infancy and it needs personal commitment and people to push it forward into the healthcare system. But I am very confident, because there are now many and more institutions working with it. And I am proud that I am a part of this.
There are many other institutions where you have trained health professionals, right?
Yes, of course. Among others we have taught people from the official hospital in Gothenburg and they are doing Neurofeedback now. This year they are starting a study together with a clinic in another town, which will be about PTSD and Neurofeedback. The pandemic has of course delayed everything a bit, but hopefully I can teach in the next course in February 5 other people for this project.
Also, a therapist and chief of the City Mission in Linköping attended the last course in September 2020 and is now offering Neurofeedback at the center. Their clients are women with substance abuse and severe comorbidity. And they want to spread Neurofeedback to other city missions in other towns.
In Stockholm, there is a clinic called WONSA, which means world of no sexual abuse. Last year, we educated a bunch of people who are working there. This is really interesting, because there is a very big need of clinics and people to treat persons with this special trauma and they are very interested of continuing our cooperation and going on with Neurofeedback.
And perhaps a brief summary at this point. Neurofeedback can be really effective therapy module in the treatment of trauma. And via this contacts and commitments Neurofeedback is made accessible to people who really need help and have long suffering behind them. And it is just great that we have Neurofeedback as a tool, which can help them.
What are your personal experiences in treating trauma with Neurofeedback?
Of course, I have an understanding of trauma, but let's be clear: I am not a trauma specialist. I have deep insights because I taught professionals from institutions mentioned above in Neurofeedback. Not especially Neurofeedback for Trauma, but we have seen that this is an indication where our approach can be very useful in the context of an entire therapy process. Trauma has a broad spectrum and it is always important that the clients are in medical care.
When I have clients with trauma, I tell my clients that they also need to have a trauma therapist besides. But to give you a short example: last year a young man was coming for a complex trauma. He was also refugeeing many years ago. He had problems taking the train or a flight, or other situations that involve crowds of people. He made 20 Neurofeedback sessions in spring 2019. After the summer, he came back and told me, that he went on vacation for the first time for many, many years and went with his family to Turkey by plane. For the first time, he was able to take a train without feeling any anxiety. When he was on the plane half away to Turkey, the pilot said that something was wrong with the aircraft, so the plane needed to return all the way back to Copenhagen and even then, he still didn’t feel any anxiety. Many people on the plane got very nervous and he was calming them down. So back in Copenhagen, he flew to Turkey on the next day and was very happy about it. Maybe sometimes Neurofeedback can really relieve from trauma. He is still coming to me now and then and he is feeling very good.
How important is Neurofeedback in Sweden and Norway? I mean, you are very committed to networking, working with institutions who establish Neurofeedback services for people who really need help to cope with trauma, sexual abuse, etc. How well established is it in health care system?
It is not established at all in the health care system. But there are so many upcoming clinics and professionals who start to know about Neurofeedback and hopefully sooner or later we will have it more established. Moreover, there are so many sections in the healthcare, where they don’t have many tools to treat, and they need tools. Also, the treatments for abuse and other kind of abuse like drugs and alcohol, are getting more and more interested in Neurofeedback and that is something, I hope we can further extend our cooperation and commitments in 2021. It is extremely interesting and important, because the idea is, that all kind of abuses have more or less trauma at the base. So if you don’t treat the trauma, you don’t succeed with the abuse treatment. So this is a point of view, which I find very interesting.
What do you think? What role will Neurofeedback play in future?
Hopefully a big role. My intention has been from the very beginning, that this has to be introduced to healthcare systems, maybe it will take time, but it must be in a very professional way. My company is small and my marketing not very big or very loud, because it’s more important that it’s done very professional. It takes more time, but this is the right way to go to a higher level in the healthcare system.
You work with patients on a daily basis and you are also involved internationally as a lecturer for Neurofeedback and you support people who are new in the business. What drives you personally?
I simply can’t stop (laughs). Because every day I find a new challenge. It is extremely interesting and I think the teaching part is the one I am focusing more and more now. I hope that I will find more people in Malmö that could learn Neurofeedback, so that I could lead the patients more over to professionals to do it, then I could focus more on the cooperation with BEE Medic to do more courses and teaching and to go around the world to institutions.
Like the first course in Romania in 2019, right?
Yes. This was actually something very extraordinary. I speak Romanian because I made my studies to become a sports teacher in Romania. So then, when some of the Romanian people were introduced to Neurofeedback and wanted to start courses in Romania, I was asked if I could help to teach there. So me and Bastian Palm went there and it was actually something very nice and extraordinary. We were in the Carpathian mountains and held the course in a very nice place there and this was very, very fun and I was happy that I could do that.
So you can tell it's really an affair of the heart for you to qualify people in Neurofeedback.
Yes, absolutely. I would also like to focus on doing courses online, maybe with self-learning content and so hopefully our cooperation can help me focus more in these things (laughs again).
Dear Gunilla, thank you very much for the interview!
The interview was conducted with Svenja Reiniger, Head of Communications & Marketing at BEE Medic GmbH Germany via video conference.
If you want to learn more about the Nordic Center of Neurofeedback please visit their Website.
For more basic information about Gunilla and next courses please have a look at Gunillas profile here at the lecturer profiles.