The Effectiveness of Using Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2020 Jul;21(3):541-550. doi: 10.1177/1524838018781103. Epub 2018 Jun 11.


Neurofeedback is an innovative treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is readily accessible to mental health therapists. As a widespread mental health concern with potentially devastating long-term consequences on psychosocial functioning, PTSD can also adversely impact biophysiological processes, particularly those related to the brain. Neurofeedback has shown promise in alleviating overall PTSD symptoms, including these underlying neurobiological consequences. Successful results have been found among clients with PTSD who have not been responsive to prior treatment modalities. While a strong base of clinical anecdotes and case studies supports its success in treating PTSD, intervention studies on neurofeedback have been critiqued for lack of rigor and poor methodological design. A current systematic review of the literature on the effectiveness of neurofeedback in treating PTSD was conducted. Unlike prior reviews which emphasized neurobiological changes, this study was written for the mental health therapist and focused solely on behavioral outcomes. Ten studies met the criteria for inclusion in this review. Neurofeedback demonstrated salubrious results in at least one outcome measure for the majority of participants across all studies. Interpretations, however, are limited by wide discrepancies in sample sizes, study designs, outcome measures, and the extent of reported results. Future research in this area would benefit from prioritizing randomized controlled trials with larger sample sizes and longitudinal follow-up results.

Keywords: EEG biofeedback; dissociation; emotional regulation; neurobiology; neurofeedback; post-traumatic stress disorder; trauma.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurofeedback / methods*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome