First, Do No Harm: Adverse Effects and the Need for Practice Standards in Neurofeedback


  • D. Corydon Hammond
  • Lynda Kirk



Adverse and iatrogenic effects associated with psychotherapy have been
substantiated in research for more than 40 years. Controlled research also exists in the field of neurofeedback (electroencephalographic biofeedback) that documents that negative effects can occur from inappropriate training. This article presents accumulating evidence, taken directly from acknowledgments by neurofeedback practitioners of the existence of both transient side effects and of more serious adverse reactions that have occurred. Unlicensed and unqualified practitioners pose a risk to the public and to the integrity and future of the profession. It is vitally important that both professionals and professional societies emphasize standards of practice and that the public be protected from individuals seeking to use neurofeedback to work with medical, psychiatric, and psychological conditions for which they are not qualified and licensed to work. Some in the field propose pursuing biofeedback or psychophysiology licensure as a means to establish standards of practice and address ethical concerns. This is a reasonable option to consider, although it may take many years to implement in various states. In the meantime it is vitally important that individuals offering neurofeedback services for clinical diagnostic conditions be licensed to lawfully provide services for such conditions.