Biofeedback is a mind-body technique where clients learn how to transform their physiology to enhance physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It involves using visual and auditory feedback to teach individuals to recognize signs and symptoms of anxiety or stress, such as muscle tension, increased heart rate, or increased body temperature.
Like physical therapy, biofeedback techniques require the client’s active engagement with consistent practice between training sessions. When the client puts in the work, clinical biofeedback can help manage mental health symptoms and improve overall health and wellness.
The National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine acknowledges biofeedback as one of the mind-body therapies, and many therapists and clients consider biofeedback as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
Techniques of Biofeedback
Biofeedback is a type of training rather than a treatment. With practice, biofeedback can help individuals cultivate new skills that can help them cope with various health conditions.
A typical biofeedback session lasts between 30 and 60 minutes, with a course of treatment lasting four to six sessions. The extent of therapy and sessions required is contingent on many considerations, including:
- How the client responds to the training
- The condition being treated
- The goals for treatment
Uses for Biofeedback
Biofeedback aims to change the body by learning how to control the physical and psychological effects of stress. This could involve relaxing specific muscles, slowing the heart rate, or reducing feelings of pain.
Therapists can incorporate biofeedback techniques into the client’s treatment plan for various conditions. It is often used to manage stress and anxiety as a primary illness or due to a co-occurring disorder.
There is specific evidence to support the use of biofeedback for particular conditions, including the following:
- Bowel incontinence
- Urinary control
- Chronic pain, such as chronic lower back pain, and chronic pelvic pain
- Chronic insomnia
- Migraine headaches
- Chronic fatigue
- Motion sickness
- Raynaud phenomenon
Types of Biofeedback
There are many types of biofeedback training. Some of the most popular forms include neurofeedback or electroencephalograph (EEG), electromyography (EMG), and heart rate variability (HRV).
Neurofeedback, also known as EEG biofeedback, trains individuals in the self-control areas of the brain by calculating waves and providing a feedback signal. Neurofeedback usually provides audio and or video feedback. Positive or negative feedback is created for wanted or unwanted brain activities.
EMG biofeedback is used for various conditions such as tension headache, chronic pain, cervical dystonia, and jaw dysfunction. The device detects variations in muscle tension by monitoring electrical activity that results in muscle contractions.
Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback
HRV biofeedback helps the client obtain awareness of their involuntary HRV, learn to breathe slowly and sense positive emotions to manage their HRV, and eventually decrease stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms.
The chosen biofeedback approach will depend on what the client wishes to accomplish with biofeedback therapy.
Benefits of Biofeedback
Like other treatment approaches, biofeedback has advantages and disadvantages. It may not be suitable for everyone, so it is essential to consider the benefits and risks before determining if it is the best choice for your situation.
Some of the benefits of biofeedback include:
- Better control over emotions: Biofeedback teaches individuals how to control their reactions in stressful situations, helping them feel more in control and better equipped to manage the stress they may encounter in their daily life or the anxiety that results from other mental health conditions.
- Non-invasive procedure: Biofeedback may be requested when other treatment approaches are ineffective or when individuals cannot take certain medications, as biofeedback is non-invasive.
Some Things to Consider
Biofeedback is generally safe and can be used on clients of any age; however, it might not be appropriate or effective for everyone. Below are a few guidelines to determine if biofeedback is a suitable choice for you.
- The client must be able to actively participate, so it may not be an appropriate procedure if the client cannot understand and follow directions.
- It is not suitable in cases where the client has complete paralysis.
- Biofeedback may not be the only treatment for severe hypertension, so it is best to explore other alternatives first.
- It should be used with caution in acute psychiatric clients.
- Biofeedback devices might not work correctly on clients with certain medical conditions, such as heart rhythm issues or skin conditions.
If biofeedback sounds right for you or someone you love, ask your primary care provider for a referral and verify the therapist’s experience. It is also beneficial to contact your health insurance provider to confirm if they will cover any costs of biofeedback treatment.
Biofeedback is a mind-body technique where individuals discover how to modify their physiology to enhance physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. If you are ready to take control of your body, we are here to help. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in San Diego, CA, offers unique treatment plans tailored to meet the individual needs of our clients. We specialize in psychiatric care for multiple levels of mental health disorders. Here, we will support you from crisis to independence by providing a healing, nurturing environment with a devoted team of professionals ready to help you regain control of your life. We offer treatment plans to meet every physical and emotional need for long-term recovery. Let Crownview Co-Occurring Institute help you achieve success through our evidence-based treatment services.
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