Santa Barbara Wellness Directory
Neurofeedback Santa Barbara - Dr. Dan Staso

Neurofeedback Santa Barbara - Dr. Dan Staso

Neurofeedback Santa Barbara, Dr. Dan Staso
Dan Staso, Ph.D.

Neurofeedback Santa Barbara, PSY7309

Office Address:
5266 Hollister, Suite 204, Goleta, CA 93111

or read my Neurofeedback Blog

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback and has been in use for over 30 years but is only now becoming widely known. A powerful technology rooted in the foundations of biofeedback, the primary goal of neurofeedback is to stabilize brain function. Rather than curing specific conditions, neurofeedback helps balance the brain so that the brain corrects itself. This process trains the central nervous system to self-regulate so that it functions better as a result. As an example, if your place a special skin thermometer on your finger, you can raise or lower its temperature at will just by focusing on the gauge.

Q: Could you explain more about brainwaves?

Your brain produces four distinct types of brain waves, which are labeled in Greek letters. People usually have a mixture of frequencies at any given time, but the dominant frequency varies depending on the state of consciousness and on individual differences. Beta is considered to be the fast waves, measuring 15 Hertz and above. Alpha is 8-12 Hertz. Theta is 4-7 Hertz. Delta is 0.5-3.5 Hertz. Normal focused waking state consists of primarily Beta waves in the brain. When you close your eyes and relax, Alpha tends to be produced. Theta normally is only produced briefly when you are starting to fall asleep. Delta is normally produced when you are asleep.

Q: How long does the training take?

Sessions are usually one to three times per week, but each person is different. Many notice some improvement within the first three sessions, however, its recommended to have at least 20 visits. The total number depends on the type of problem, the age of the person, and many other factors. Typically ADD requires about 20-45 sessions. Application for alcoholism takes 30 to 40 sessions.

Q: How can I expect to feel after a session?

You may feel a little tired, as if you worked hard, or sleepy and a little spacey during a session. This is natural, as you are doing the equivalent of aerobic training or weight-lifting with your brain. However, most of my clients notice an increase in energy levels and clarity of thought within a few minutes after they leave.

Alpha-Theta Training

Neurofeedback training can be used for two separate purposes. The first is to stabilize the physiology of the brain. This usually results in a person having less dramatic reactions to stressors and returning to a calm, focused place after the stress is resolved. The brain becomes more stable, resilient, and flexible. The second purpose is to resolve deep psychological issues in the unconscious mind. It’s called Alpha-theta training and is commonly recommended after 20 sessions of neurofeedback for physiological stability.

Alpha-theta training sometimes is referred to as altered states training due to its similarity to hypnosis. The client and I create a script for what they want to focus on. Often the script is about the type of person they want to become and they are asked to use visualization. With this type of training, the brain increases the motivation (approach) and decreases the fear (avoidance).

I see it as creating a conscious evolution for yourself. As examples, you may want to improve your creativity, be calm in all situations, get rid of that last bit of background negativity, be able to talk openly to your family, lose your anger, eliminate jealousy, start your own business, or be more outgoing.

I place the sensors on the back on the head and ask you to close your eyes. I spend the first 5-10 minutes going over the imagery you are to consciously focus on during the session. I then turn the feedback on and leave the room. The tones will guide you into the elusive alpha theta state. This state of consciousness is experienced as being in between the states of awake and sleep. It’s the twilight state. Normally you fall asleep if left on your own. The tones you hear coming from the computer holds you in that normally fleeting state of conscious.

It has all the benefits of hypnosis because you’re re-programming your subconscious mind, but with the added feature that hypnosis can’t get to. It clears out the traumatic experiences that have put on the brakes on your ability to progress. Everyone has outdated negative, life limiting beliefs. They reside in the unconscious where a person doesn’t know that they don’t know. The brain operates as if these beliefs are still true.

Alpha-theta training is commonly used for alcoholism and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In 1989 Eugene Peniston published his now famous study using alpha theta training to treat chronic alcoholics in an inpatient setting. He achieved an 80% rate of recovery. These were men from a VA hospital who were also Vietnam vets. They were reporting that not only did they stop drinking, but they stopped obsessing about the war. Also, many negative aspects of their personality cleared up. That led to another study of just working with PTSD. They found the same thing happened. The PTSD went away. The rough edges of personality mellowed. Several MMPI scores moved to within normal limits.

Every person has had some trauma during their lifetime. Therefore, just about anyone can benefit from alpha theta training. We all have limitations that hold us back. Have you noticed how you stop yourself from achieving what you say you want? Even if a person believes they know what stops them, the real reason is buried in the unconscious. Common resistance include fear of failing, being abandoned, guilt over surpassing your parents or siblings, wanting to be taken care of by others, not wanting to grow up, etc. It’s pure fear and it has to do with early family dynamics, belief systems, and trauma. Alpha-theta training helps the non-conscious mind to reprocess these early experiences even if it never becomes conscious. The brain, while idling in 6-9 cycles per second, resolves the issues.

Thomas Edison had his own version of this method. When he would get stuck on a problem after hours of focusing on it, he would go to his office for a “power nap”. He would recline in his chair with metal ball bearings in the palm of both hands. He got as close to sleep as he possibly could without actually falling asleep. If he did, the ball bearings would drop and make a loud noise, waking him up. He would drift into the twilight state until the solution to the problem arose spontaneously, then jump up and go back to work. It was low tech biofeedback at its finest.

Many of my clients start alpha theta training after they complete 20 sessions of neurofeedback for physiological stability. Many of these individuals have made significant changes in their life as a result. The results often go way beyond what psychotherapy offers and with greater depth. Most people need 20 to 25 alpha theta sessions to achieve the best results.


“It’s been amazing. I used to feel groggy in the daytime. I now feel alert. I have a lot less anger inside. I started having deep insights about myself that I never got to after years of therapy. Now my behavior is much less erratic, and my thoughts are much less obsessive. For the first time in my life, I can feel sad without being depressed.”
- Saleswoman (after 14 neurofeedback sessions)

“I’ve noticed improvements after each session. My muscles are more relaxed and I’m far more coordinated with my body movement. I now have better quality of sleep and my thinking is clearer. I used to upset my wife because I was too intense. All that is changing. I am learning how to be in the now and not react so strongly. Needless to say, I am very happy and pleased by my results. Secrets like this shouldn't be kept this well.”
- Executive (after 9 neurofeedback sessions)

“I feel mellow all the time now. I’m not panicking over things like I used to. I can stay in the moment and be focused. I am much more productive and energetic. My creativity and energy level is up. I feel clear-headed. A lot of people are asking what is different about me. They notice a change. I sleep well. Overall, I feel happier.”
- Photographer (after 17 neurofeedback sessions)

Specialty & Conditions Helped:

  • panic and anxiety disorder
  • chronic pain
  • depression
  • marital discord
  • primary relationship issues
  • post traumatic stress disorder / PTSD
  • manic depression
  • social phobia
  • gambling addiction
  • spouse abuse perpetrators
  • incest victims
  • work conflicts
  • Dyslexia
  • Pain Management
  • Alcoholism
  • anger management
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Sleep
  • Head Injury
  • adolescent adjustment problems
  • and drug abuse (alcohol, amphetamine, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine).

About Dr Dan Staso

I am a psychologist in private practice in Santa Barbara specializing in the use of technology as applied to psychology. I incorporate neurofeedback, audio visual entrainment, cranial electrical stimulation, skin temperature and GSR biofeedback units, and a breath training unit. I apply these technologies for depression, anxiety, pain management, PTSD, ADD, and addictive disorders. In addition, I periodically teach clinical applications of neurofeedback to professionals who wish to add this specialty to their practice. It is my goal in this blog to offer information for the public about how I apply this technology to my practice and I hope that the information is useful and helps to answer questions about this new and rapidly evolving field.

For a more in-depth view of this method and what I do, please visit my web neurofeedback website or read my neurofeedback blog.

I have been in private practice since 1982 and have extensive training and experience in EMDR and cognitive behavior therapy. I was formerly on the faculty at the California Graduate Institute in Los Angeles where I have taught Psychopharmacology, EMDR, and Fear of Intimacy. I offer take home units such as Alpha-Stim SCS and DAVID PAL audio visual entrainment devices, which complement neurofeedback and speed up results.


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