An Introduction to Biofeedback

By Harold Cohen, Ph.D.

Cautions

Unless you panic during deep relaxation or just get bugged by electronic blips and beeps, don’t expect any problem from biofeedback. The instruments are safe, and the electricity rarely enters your body — except during electrodermal biofeedback (the kind that measures sweat), and the amount of current is minuscule. Just to be cautious, though; check with your doctor if you have a serious heart condition or an implanted pacemaker (or other implanted electronic device) before using this form of biofeedback.

If you’re taking any medications for your condition, checking with your doctor after therapy begins is a good idea. If biofeedback works for you, you may need to reduce your dosage, but only you and your doctor will know for sure.

How Long Does it Take to See Results from Biofeedback?

How long you’ll have to wait for results of biofeedback depends on many factors, including your age, general health, ailment, and overall motivation. At the very least, biofeedback will take at least a few office sessions (each lasting 30 to 60 minutes) to help simple problems — and many ailments will require dozens of sessions. One fact is clear: The more you practice, the quicker you’ll achieve desired results. Practicing at home can even reduce the number of office sessions you need. If you can, talk to other people that have used biofeedback successfully; you may lose heart on your own.

You’re the one who does the real work in making biofeedback heal you. But you will need a qualified therapist to hook you up to the equipment every time, answer your questions, monitor your progress, and offer suggestions. You can find this type of therapist in many different fields of health care — including medicine, nursing, psychology, social work, physical and occupational therapy, and so on.

Finding someone who knows what they’re doing may take a little more legwork. No formal licensing is available for biofeedback therapists, but certification from the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America is a bare minimum requirement. Your best bet is to make sure that the therapists have all the standard training and licensing in their respective fields — and that they have some (successful!) experience using biofeedback on other people with your disorder.

Biofeedback can cost you — sessions can run up to about $150, and in most cases you’ll need quite a few of them. The good news, though, is that private insurers will often help pay, provided that you’re using the biofeedback for a reimbursable disorder.

Helpful Tip! Asking your therapist to estimate the number of treatments you’ll need can help keep your expectations realistic — and give you a benchmark by which to decide that it’s time to put your time and money elsewhere.

 

APA Reference
Cohen, H. (2006). An Introduction to Biofeedback. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/an-introduction-to-biofeedback/000226
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

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