What is biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a non-drug treatment in which you are trained to control biological processes that are typically considered involuntary, such as heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain wave patterns. You are empowered by using your body’s own natural healing abilities to improve your mental and physical health. 

Biofeedback is often used to help treat symptoms of:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Stress

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Depression

  • Sleep difficulties

  • Sports performance

  • TMJ 

  • Teeth grinding

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Tension or migraine headaches

  • Chronic back or neck pain

  • High blood pressure

  • Asthma

  • Epilepsy

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Chronic fatigue 

What are the benefits of biofeedback? 

Biofeedback is a natural, drug-free treatment that allows you to learn how to help yourself. It puts you in control of your body and helps alleviate symptoms of many mental and physical conditions. 

What are the risks of biofeedback? 

The biggest risk is using biofeedback as your only treatment when the problem is so severe that medical care should be sought first. It is very important to speaking to medical professionals before using only biofeedback.

How do I prepare for biofeedback training?

You only need the desire to learn how to control your own body to improve your health. The number of therapy sessions needed for training will depend on patient readiness and severity of symptoms. However, you should expect to commit to between 6 and 30 sessions to learn the skills. 

What happens during training? 

During biofeedback training, your therapist will connect you to some electronic equipment that records your body’s automatic functions such as breathing, skin temperature, muscle tension, brain waves, and heart rate.  This equipment provides you with information, or “feedback" about the performance of the functions you need to learn to control. You will be able to view the information for yourself on a computer, tablet, or TV screen. During the treatment, you will simply be asked to get your body into a comfortable position, relax, and pay attention to how you feel and how your body changes in relation to the feedback on the screen. 

The first couple of sessions are usually focused on “baseline” readings of your typical functioning. This is used to track your progress during treatment. Your therapist will use the feedback on the screen to identify mental activities and relaxation techniques that will help regulate your bodily processes. Over time, you will learn how to control them without needing to be monitored. 

There are three common types of biofeedback:

  • Thermal biofeedback: Measures skin temperature

  • Electromyogram (EMG) biofeedback : Measures muscle tension

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback: Measures brain waves

  • Heart variability biofeedback: Measures your pulse and heart rate

How do I work on skills at home? 

Between biofeedback treatment sessions, your therapist may assign relaxation or muscle control exercise for you to practice at home. After treatment is completed, you may need occasional sessions and/or home practice to help maintain the control and skills you have learned. 

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