Biofeedback is a therapeutic technique in which patients are made aware of physiological changes in their bodies as a response to stress, anxiety, physical strain and other emotional stimuli. This is accomplished by monitoring key bodily functions including breathing, muscle tension, heart-rate, blood pressure, peripheral skin temperature and EEG brainwaves.
A doctor attaches electrodes with sensors to the patients’ body which send signals to a monitor that can be viewed by the patient. This allows the patient to see how the body is reacting to various stimuli and ultimately learn to control these reactions that in the past were involuntary.
Example of a patient doing biofeedback training.
How does biofeedback therapy work?
Biofeedback allows patients to make positive changes by seeing what’s going on inside their bodies. Understanding physiological reactions and their impact makes it possible to learn how to respond in healthier ways. These learned responses eventually become automatic through practice involving repetitive exercises and positive reinforcement.
For example, biofeedback combats stress by teaching relaxation techniques. It is possible to consciously manipulate breathing, heart rate and other usually involuntary functions to override your body’s response to stressful situations.
How can biofeedback be incorporated into everyday life?
After several sessions, the patients learn to respond to their own internal signals rather than relying on the external signals from the machine. Outside of the office, biofeedback patients report becoming sufficiently aware of negative triggers, allowing them to automatically respond in healthier ways. Studies have shown that patients can maintain the skills learned doing biofeedback over many years and even a lifetime. Occasionally, a few sessions with a therapist can be helpful to brush up on skills.
How many sessions with my therapist before I can expect to see results?
This will vary from patient to patient depending on level of commitment to the therapy and severity of condition but usually benefits can be seen within 10 sessions or less. In general patients doing biofeedback should meet with their therapist once a week for 45 minutes per session for approximately 10-16 weeks. Patients are expected to do a small amount of homework and should practice what is learned at the office for best results.
What are the next steps?
Patients must first complete an initial consultation with Dr. Robert Reiner (Adults) or Dr. Heather Davidson (Children, Teens). After the initial consultation, you will be set up with one of our expert staff members based on your goals, availability and treatment type. Treatment may require you to complete an MMPI-2 personality test, qEEG brain scan or other psychological testing to fully understand your history and diagnosis. Same and next day appointments are typically available Monday through Thursday.