Similar to the ancient practice of yoga, biofeedback is a therapeutic technique that teaches you how to control physical responses such as breathing, muscle tension, hand temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. These responses are associated with the autonomic branch of the peripheral nervous system and are normally involuntary. The control achieved through biofeedback results from learning how to focus on and modify the signals coming from your body during moments of stress and/or pain. For instance, during a panic attack, individuals often experience a sudden increase in heart rate, respiration, muscle tension, and temperature. The worry associated with panic disorder (e.g., “I’m going to lose control; I’m going to faint“) is the direct result of misinterpreting these signals and connecting normal states of physiological arousal with threatening internal and external events. Like trying to read a foreign textbook, people with anxiety struggle to understand what their body’s internal language means. As a result, they often jump to negative and false conclusions about their health and well-being. Through the practice of biofeedback, clients gradually learn to understand the physical cues associated with stress, control their breathing and heart rate, and reduce the fear associated with normal changes in their physiology and comfort level.
To understand the practice of biofeedback, think of a thermometer – an external device that measures physiological change. Biofeedback uses electronic or electromechanical instruments to monitor, measure, process, and communicate information about blood pressure, muscle tension, heart rate, brain waves, and other physiological functions. Audio and visual cues, provided through a computer, reflect this activity and provide clients with real-time feedback about their bodies internal systems and responses. With the guidance and support of a trained clinician, clients eventually gain mastery over these sensations and develop increased awareness of and activities to soothe their bodies during moments of heightened pain or stress.
At Life Changes Group, our clinicians are expertly trained in the use of biofeedback for the treatment of anxiety, stress, chronic pain, insomnia, and various other conditions. If you are interested in beginning treatment, or integrating this technique into your current treatment regimen, please feel free to give us a call or complete our short online intake form. We would be happy to discuss treatment options with you.