What is Biofeedback Therapy?

Biofeedback is a technique that teaches you how to control body functions to balance your nervous system resulting in improved health.  With biofeedback, you are connected to electrical sensors that help you receive information (feedback) about your body (bio) which you are normally unaware of.  

This feedback helps you focus on making subtle changes in your body functions.  With training, you can bring these functions under voluntary control. Training techniques may include controlled breathing, meditation, muscle relaxation, hand warming, and more. 

Determining the methods that are right for you depends on your health problems and goals.  The therapist will develop an individualized treatment plan that may include all or any one of the following modalities: 

  • Breathing. (PNG) A belt is placed around your abdomen to monitor your breathing. 
  • Heart rate. An earlobe sensor measures your heart rate and heart rate variability. 
  • Muscle. (EMG) Sensor stickers are placed on your skin over your skeletal muscles to measure muscle activity.
  • Sweat glands. (EDR) Sensor stickers are placed on your skin to measure the activity of your endocrine system. 
  • Temperature. A sensor is attached to a finger to measure your hand’s skin temperature which is an indication of the blood flow in your hand. 

Practicing at home is very important for success of your biofeedback training. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.  You may be assigned specific exercises to practice at home such as controlled breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, prayer/ meditation, mindfulness, etc.


Goals of biofeedback training:

  • Learn about the stress (fight or flight) response and how it affects your nervous system and health
  • View your body’s signals with biofeedback equipment
  • See (with monitors) how your body reacts to stress and relaxation
  • Train your body while monitored how to change the stress response with coaching from the clinician
  • Train your body how to change the stress response at home on your own
  • Learn how to change your body responses in everyday life (including home, school, work, etc.)

What can biofeedback help improve?  

  • Anxiety
  • ADD / ADHD
  • Addictions
  • Arthritis
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Chronic Pain
  • Chronic Back Pain
  • Disorders of the digestive system
  • Fibromyalgia Syndrome
  • Headaches
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Performance improvement (ex: sales, speaking, sports, performing arts…) 
  • PTSD
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • And more…

Why Biofeedback? 

  • According to Dr. Herbert Benson and Mirriam Z. Klipper, authors of The Relaxation Response, “60% to 80% of doctors’ office visits are poorly treated by drugs and surgery.  Self-care, along with drugs and surgery can bring a true integrated approach.” 
  • It is a safe, non-invasive, and painless therapy for children and adults. 
  • Research has shown that people are often able to decrease or eliminate medication.
  • Most Americans report feeling stressed. The majority of health issues are stress related or impacted by stress. 
  • It might be a treatment alternative for people who do not want to take medication, or their medications have not worked well.
  • It is a safe treatment during pregnancy.
  • It helps people take charge of their own health. 
  • Biofeedback may not be appropriate for everyone, so please discuss it with your doctor before you start.

Biofeedback may be contraindicated for certain psychological disorders. If you are under the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist, you should pursue biofeedback therapy only if a referral from your provider. 

Biofeedback may be covered by your insurance. If your insurance provides coverage, a doctor’s order for biofeedback along with the diagnosis for what is being treated is required. 

Many reputable organizations have recognized the need for self-care and are now providing biofeedback therapy for their own patients: Children’s Mercy Hospitals, Mayo Clinics, Cleveland Clinics, etc. 


What can you expect with biofeedback therapy?

  • You will be in a comfortable and safe counseling office environment.
  • You may sit up, recline, or place your feet up depending on your comfort.
  • The surroundings include a client, a clinician, equipment, and a computer display screen.
  • The more you practice at home, the better your results will be.
  • On average you can expect 4 to 10 sessions.
  • After the initial session, each session will last 45 minutes. 
  • Once learned, these are lifetime skills.

Q&A

  • Q: Is biofeedback covered by insurance? 
  • A: Some insurance companies provide coverage.

 

  • Q: Does biofeedback coordinate with any religious beliefs? 
  • A: Yes! In fact, you will learn to balance your body in the way God created it to function. The choice to include prayer and faith will increase your chances for success. 

 

  • Q: Does meditation coordinate with all religions? 
  • A: Yes! Meditation is deep thought and concentration on a specific subject. Focus can be on nature, your breathing, the Bible, God, or any topic of your choice. 

My personal training and experience:  

18 years of experience in the medical field as an RN (registered nurse) working with multiple health conditions. Currently, I am a certified life coach and received the Professional Biofeedback Certificate in a program approved by BCIA.

Ask me about my personal experience and success with biofeedback—the reason I do this.

 

Sara Howard BSN, RN, Biofeedback Clinician