Biofeedback: The High Tech Mirror
Biofeedback lets you see what your own physiology is doing in real time. You can look into the biofeedback "mirror" to learn what your physiology looks like in that moment. Then you can make changes and see the results right away. If you learn the contrast between how things looked and how you made the change then you’re internalizing the ability to control your physiology. Pretty quickly you will master making the change stick. Your biofeedback therapist functions much like a coach or personal trainer, guiding your efforts so that you can achieve change (and get relief from what was bothering you) as quickly as possible.
TYPES OF BIOFEEDBACK
Muscle Tension Biofeedback - shows your muscle activity in real-time. With this knowledge, you can gain control of the activity of your muscles. Muscles which hold too much tension often lead to pain, don’t move well, and cause fatigue. With muscle tension biofeedback (technically, Surface Electromyographic Biofeedback - a mouthful, right?), you develop insight into how problems like tension headaches, or chronic neck or back pain, have cropped up. Even more importantly, you can learn to re-regulate and re-establish control.
Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback - measures your heart rate, moment to moment. This allows you to see some important characteristics of your cardiac activity which you’d miss without the sophisticated processing by the biofeedback equipment. What the processing reveals is how much stress shows up in the activity of your heart - and of course gives you an opportunity to change how you respond to that stress. This change is biofeedback’s “secret sauce” because it holds the possibility that you can make change rapidly in just the way to better control your stress response.
Respiration Biofeedback - gives you the opportunity to see how your torso expands and relaxes with each breath. This is usually viewed on a computer screen and allows you to observe very precisely when you make subtle changes to your breath. I say “usually” because there is another low tech way to show important qualities of your breathing, and that’s with a bottle of bubbles and a bubble wand.
Skin Conductance Biofeedback - Everyone knows that stress can make you sweat more. Skin Conductance Biofeedback lets you see that happening in real time. This form of biofeedback is particularly helpful if you have especially stressful situations which overwhelm you. Together with a therapist you can follow a behavioral process called “systematic desensitization.” This allows you to master how to be less reactive to stressors, so you feel less controlled by the stress and more in control yourself. The beauty of using your sweat response is that you can move through the systematic desensitizing process much faster than usual.
I started helping clients with biofeedback in 1991, and have continued to learn and grow in my ability to use this remarkable tool to help clients. I'm available in my Fort Worth office, and would be happy to consult with you.
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