EEG-neurofeedback and psychodynamic psychotherapy in a case of adolescent anhedonia with substance misuse: mood/theta relations

Int J Psychophysiol. 2014 Jul;93(1):84-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2013.03.011. Epub 2013 Mar 25.


There is substantial evidence confirming the efficacy of neurofeedback with applications in clinical, educational and optimal performance domains. However, a psychodynamically informed NF-approach needs exploration. A male (19 y), college student whose first year was being seriously compromised after severe, 18-month, polydrug misuse, was treated with 11 sessions including a 2-month follow-up of neurofeedback combined with short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy. Pre/post-treatment and follow-up assessment with the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) and the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale confirmed that levels of psychopathology dropped almost to zero. Correlational evidence disclosed that SMR/theta training was positively associated with reduction in psychopathological ratings, largely due to theta amplitude reduction; the strongest relation being with reduced BPRS activation. Alpha/theta training was not correlated with clinical improvement. The combined treatment was found to be highly effective with the student who learned to deal with feelings of anhedonia and alienation. There was no relapse during the follow-up phase. Further research is recommended.

Keywords: Addiction; Anhedonia; Depression; Neurofeedback; Psychodynamic psychotherapy; SMR; Short-term psychotherapy; Theta.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology*
  • Anhedonia / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurofeedback / methods*
  • Personality Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotherapy, Brief
  • Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic / methods*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult