Biofeedback is a specialized type of training that allows people to gain control over physiological reactions that are ordinarily unconscious or automatic. Malfunctions in these automatic responses contribute to a wide variety of medical problems. In study after study, biofeedback has shown the ability to help bring reactions back into line, providing relief for many of the people who try it.
Although it is not a cure, biofeedback has helped many people control a host of debilitating ailments ranging from chronic pain and nerve damage to depression and anxiety.
How Biofeedback Works
Biofeedback requires intense participation as the subject learns to control normally involuntary (autonomic) functions such as heart rate and breathing. The biofeedback clinician applies sensors to various points on the body that correspond to the problem being treated. The sensors are connected to monitoring equipment that provides instant feedback on the function trying to be controlled.
The clinician teaches mental or physical exercises that can help the subject affect the function that is causing a problem. Success can easily be gauged by noting any changes in the signals from the instrument. Gradually, the subject learns to associate successful thoughts and actions with the desired change of involuntary responses. Once the subject has thoroughly learned an effective pattern of actions, he/she will be able to assert control without the aid of the feedback device.
Biofeedback Instruments Include:
- Electromyograph (EMG): measures muscle tension.
- Hemistor: measures the amount of heat given off by the skin to determine blood flow or volume.
- Electroencephalograph (EEG): measures brain-wave activity when treating ADD and ADHD, head injuries, and depression.
- Plethysmograph: uses light to measure blood volume, pulse rate, or blood pressure. It is often used in the treatment of migraine headache, heart rate problems, anxiety, and panic disorder.
- Respiration Feedback: focuses on the rate, rhythm, and type of breathing to promote relaxation and to lessen symptoms of asthma, anxiety, and hyperventilation.
How to Choose a Biofeedback Clinician
Select a biofeedback clinician with training in psychology and physiology. The clinician should have a Doctoral Degree and have experience working collaboratively with physicians in medical settings.
Biofeedback clinicians are certified by the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America or are licensed psychologists that have taken numerous hours of coursework in psychophysiology and biofeedback applications.
Source: Dr. Frank Sparadeoback