The term biofeedback refers to a wide range of modalities that can be used to train people to improve their health by using information from their own bodies. For instance, we use simple biofeedback whenever we take our temperature or weigh ourselves and then use that information to decide how best to care for ourselves.
Health practitioners and clients now have access through smartphone digital technology that allows them to obtain measurements of various internal body functions such as galvanic skin resistance (GSR), heart rate variability (HRV), and brain waves and use that information to coach and train their clients to improve a wide variety of physical and emotional challenges as well as to improve Heart and Brain Coherence.
It is important to note that biofeedback therapy is a type of training program with the goal of teaching control of involuntary physiological processes – both mental and physical – that can reduce stress, a contributing factor in 80% of the health conditions. (The National Institute of Health says 80% of all medical conditions are caused by stress.(2)) Biofeedback is considered “a mind-body technique in which individuals learn how to modify their physiology for the purpose of improving physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.” (3)
The goal of biofeedback training is to become aware of our body’s responses, particularly when we’re stressed and anxious, and to then learn how to control those responses to achieve the desired outcomes. When working with a biofeedback device, those changes in physiological function can be readily observed on a screen, but in time we can learn to maintain the beneficial changes without the use of equipment.
The three most commonly used forms of biofeedback therapy are:
- Electromyography (EMG), which measures muscle tension,
- Thermal biofeedback, which measures skin temperature, and
- Neurofeedback or electroencephalography (EEG), which measures brain wave activity.
How does this mind-body intervention work? “At its roots, biofeedback therapy helps reduce a wide range of symptoms by lowering sympathetic arousal. Through identifying and changing certain mental activities and physical reactions, biofeedback trains patients to help regulate their own unconscious bodily processes and better control their stress response.” (3) As a client follows measurements of their physiological responses and begins to move in a healthier direction, positive reinforcement and learning take place.
It is important to stress that biofeedback therapy is not a treatment but a training process in which the recipient must take an active role and commit to regular practice in order to develop a skill, much like learning to play a musical instrument.
The act of learning a skill that can dramatically improve the quality of life is a very empowering process and a vital part of pro-consciousness medicine and the democratization of healthcare, where the responsibility for health no longer relies solely on medical intervention. It is essential we understand that there is a shared responsibility for health between the practitioner and the one who seeks healing and that we benefit most when we become full participants in the process of regaining and maintaining our own health.
Due to its effectiveness, clinical biofeedback training has been steadily gaining acceptance with the American public and is recognized by the National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a valuable mind-body therapy and a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). “A recent in‐person survey of health‐and illness‐related experiences showed that in the USA alone, approximately 38% of adults and 12% of children are using some form of CAM for general healthcare and wellness…(4) In 2007, Americans spent nearly $34 billion on CAM practitioners and products.(5)
As this trend continues and as research continues to demonstrate the efficacy of biofeedback for more and more medical disorders, demand for highly-qualified biofeedback specialists is also growing. Be a part of this growing specialty – become a Biofeedback – Neurofeedback Health Coach by enrolling in Quantum University’s new Quantum Health Coach program so you can help others learn how to participate fully in their own healing.
Sources * * *
Ehrlich, S.D. (2015 Nov 6). Biofeedback. Univ Maryland Med Ctr: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/biofeedback
US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2939454/
Frank, D.L., Khorshid, L, Kiffer, J.F., Moravec, C.S., and McKee, M.G. (2010 Jun). Biofeedback in medicine: who, when, why and how? Ment Health Fam Med 7(2):85-91. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2939454/
Axe, J. (n.d.). Biofeedback Therapy: A Proven Treatment for 16+ Medical Conditions. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/biofeedback-therapy/
Barnes, P.M., Bloom, B., and Nahin, R.L. (2008 Dec 10). Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007. Natl Health Stat Report (12):1-23. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19361005 [PubMed]
Nahin, R.L., Barnes, P.M., Stussman, B.J., and Bloom, B. (2009 Jul 30). Costs of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and frequency of visits to CAM practitioners: United States, 2007. Natl Health Stat Report (18):1-14. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19771719 [PubMed]