Ben Allen, Clinical Psychologist         Mind for Health Resources, Ltd.      

 

                                
Biofeedback Therapy / Self-Regulation Training

           
Self-awareness and better health can be achieved through the use of a technology called biofeedback.  Bio (biology), and feedback (information received through a self-monitoring process), allows us to learn about and observe a variety of our physiological processes occurring internally within the mind and body.  Through awareness training, we may alter such physiological processes, and learn and condition a more relaxed and healthy response to stress and the challenges of daily living.   Along with psychotherapy, the objective would be to reduce symptoms that manifest as a result of stress, including psychosomatic illnesses and anxiety disorders, and help restore mental balance and physiological homeostasis leading to better mental and physical health.  The ultimate objective is to feel better on a daily basis.



Through awareness and training, we can learn to recondition over-learned, self-limiting habitual and patterns to gain new skills and healthy habits that improve health and wellness.  Maladaptive patterns include: faulty breathing, anxiety, obsessive thinking, worried or irrational thinking, dysfunctional beliefs, fear and guilt, rage, poor posture, and type A behavior.  Such patterns and can lead to chronic conditions of tensed muscles, constricted blood circulation, sweaty palms, increased blood pressure and heart rate, a host of psychosomatic disorders, and basic idiosyncratic responses of the body toward perceived stressful events.



The success of biofeedback as an instrument for improving health is based on the principles of the traditional learning theory.  Learning, through the direct result of experience, can lead to changes in behavior.  If the changes in behavior are reinforced, the old behavior can become re-conditioned and shaped to conform to new and desirable changes in behavior.   What scientists have recently discovered (although ancient cultures including martial artists and yogis have known for centuries) is that many internal physiological processes can be altered through self-regulation, self-awareness, and through the use of state-of-the-art technology such as biofeedback. Biofeedback is both visual and auditory, and includes coaching and interaction with a therapist. 

           
Extensive research on biofeedback therapy lends supports to its clinical efficacy for treating a variety of disorders, including: anxiety disorders, test or performance anxiety, fecal and urinary incontinence, gastric distress, chronic pain disorders, phobias, insomnia, posttraumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, headaches (migraine and tension), essential hypertension, Raynaudís Disease, asthma, arthritic pain, diabetes mellitus, hypoglycemia, sportís injuries, constipation, muscle spasms, bruxism (teeth grinding), temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), neuromuscular dysfunction, nocturnal enuresis, among other stress-related disorders.  

           
Biofeedback utilizes electronic instruments through the computer.  The sensors placed on the client accurately measure a variety of physiological responses, processes the information, and feeds-back data to a client regarding normal and abnormal neuromuscular and autonomic physiological activity, through auditory and/or visual feedback signals.  The objective is to help clients develop greater self-awareness and voluntary control over various physiological processes that are otherwise outside of conscious awareness and/or under less voluntary control in daily life.  Through practice, a client can achieve greater bodily control through regulating the biofeedback signals, and then generalize the skills for a desired response without the machine by using their own internal cues as feedback. 

           
Biofeedback offers six different treatment modalities which will be explained in further sections, including  EMG, GSR, skin temperature, heart rate, respiratory, and EEG.  In addition, many of the therapeutic strategies that are utilized to support healing include: cognitive therapy, hypnosis, autogenics, progressive muscle relaxation, among other methods. Treatment begins with a clinical interview and a general stress test, with the first five modalities mentioned above being measured.  The clinician uses this procedure to gain a holistic understanding of a clientís dominant stress patterns, and create a treatment plan.

           
In addition to gaining insight into issues causing stress, we may increase awareness of old, conditioned, and maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors, which often can be unlearned, and retrained to conform toward more desirable responses.  However, this type of therapy requires absolute motivation and commitment from a client.  Just as it took many years, or in many cases a lifetime to condition the problem, it takes diligence and energy to re-condition and reshape new patterns of thinking and behavior, and to heal stress-related illness.

As a participant in biofeedback training, you will learn about the human body as it pertains to your unique challenges, and you will be explained what is occurring with regard to the signals on the computer in relation to physiology and symptoms.

 

899 Skokie Blvd., Suite 304, Northbrook, IL 60062

Tel.: 847-205-9605      Fax: 847-564-8755    e-mail: drallen@mindforhealth.com


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