What is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a type of therapy in which people are trained to be able to exercise some control over the way their bodies work, especially over the way their bodies react to stress. In our hectic society, many people find themselves “stressed out” too much of the time, and their bodies show the results of this over-reaction to stress by developing anxiety, headaches, digestive trouble, sleeplessness, high blood pressure, and other nasty symptoms. Biofeedback can help.
Meet Paige Peck
Paige Peck, M.A., B.C.B., RN, is a board-certified biofeedback therapist. With a strong academic background in psychology, Paige has studied with biofeedback specialists in both Philadelphia and Washington, DC, in order to prepare to train others in biofeedback. She specializes in stress-management techniques, and in the treatment of disorders that arise from over-reactivity to stress. Paige uses a Thought Technology computer program in her work with biofeedback, so that all physical measurements are sensitive and accurate, and visual graphics can be tailored to the individual for maximum effect.
Learn about Biofeedback
IS BIOFEEDBACK NEW?
Not really. Biofeedback began to be used therapeutically after WWII to help veterans needing physical therapy. Other forms of biofeedback, such as work with skin temperature, electrodermal activity, and neurofeedback were also studied. Much research has been done with establishing voluntary control over the autonomic nervous system through the use of biofeedback, and it has been found to be a very effective therapeutic tool for the treatment of many stress-related disorders.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Biofeedback uses electronic sensors to measure and “feed back” information to the individual about their bodies. Measured bodily processes include muscle activity, skin temperature, skin conductivity, pulse volume, and heart rate. These signals tell us the degree of relaxation or tension we are producing. When we understand what is happening in our bodies, the biofeedback therapist can help us alter the signals and correct bodily overreactions. This process is called self-regulation. We learn from biofeedback to be more aware of what our bodies are doing, and to bring our reactions under our control.
WHY CHOOSE BIOFEEDBACK OVER OTHER FORMS OF THERAPY?
Biofeedback is a conservative and non-invasive. Using the stepped-care model, if you are able to experience symptom relief through the use of biofeedback, more aggressive forms of treatment might not be necessary. Treatment with biofeedback does not rely on the use of medicine. Individuals who are allergic to medications, who are pregnant, or who simply would like to reduce the number of chemicals they are putting in their bodies will appreciate this feature. Biofeedback is a life-long skill that can be used whenever stress becomes a factor in your life, unlike medications, which are situation-specific. For many people—though not for everyone—biofeedback works. It can empower you to reduce your tension level—your reactivity to stress—and relieve stress-related symptoms.
IS BIOFEEDBACK FOR EVERYONE? IS IT FOR ME?
Biofeedback teaches a skill—self-regulation—and like every skill it requires effort to acquire it. It’s like taking up tennis when you’ve never played before. Some people are natural athletes, and tennis comes easily for them. Like tennis, the more you put into biofeedback, the more you will get out of it, and the more quickly you will learn it. It won’t appeal to everyone (some people like golf more than tennis), and some will prefer other forms of therapy or will prefer to rely on what medication can do to relieve their symptoms. You need to assess your own level of motivation and your own needs and time constraints, but if you want to learn self-regulation, and have about five to twenty minutes a day to practice, biofeedback may be a good choice for you.
WHAT SYMPTOMS RESPOND BEST TO BIOFEEDBACK?
Stress-related disorders are the most responsive to the use of biofeedback training, including tension headaches, migraines, anxiety, digestive disorders, insomnia, Raynaud’s disease, hypertension, TMJ problems, bruxism, and chronic pain. (Biofeedback is also used in non-stress related problems such as muscle rehabilitation, urinary and fecal incontinence, ADHD, diabetes, epilepsy, motion sickness, and other disorders.)
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