Counseling, Mental Training & PsychoPhysiological Conditioning for Optimal Health and Performance
Dr. Julie Madsen, Clinical Psychologist
Refresh your mind.. Calm to your body... Accept change .. Connect on common goals ..
Who Can Benefit?
There are numerous disorders that can be helped. Some can be helped to the extent of lowering medication intake, others by getting off the medication completely (with the full supervision of the primary prescribing physician). Clients with other disorders can regain varying degrees of improved function. Phenomenal results have been documented on many of the conditions listed below.
Age Related Cognitive Decline
Attention Deficit Disorder ADD/ADHD
Asperger s Syndrome
Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Depression / Frequent mood swings
Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Biofeedback treatments work by teaching people to recognize how their bodies are functioning and to control patterns of physiological functioning. For example, biofeedback based urinary incontinence treatment works by helping people learn to control the pelvic floor muscles which prevent us from urinating when we don’t want to. Migraine headache treatments and tension headache treatments work by teaching people to control blood flow and muscle tension patterns which cause or start the headaches. ADHD and ADD treatments work by helping people change brain wave patterns associated with severity of these problems.
The disorders section of the web site explains why biofeedback treatment should be effective for each of the disorders listed and gives a summary of the published research studies supporting claims of effectiveness. The evidence supporting the use of biofeedback for headache treatment and migraine treatment is very strong. The evidence supporting the use of biofeedback for urinary incontinence treatment, pain treatment, ADHD treatment, and ADD treatment is quite strong.
About insurance coverage for biofeedback: Coverage for biofeedback is often available from health insurers but the plans vary widely. You or your primary care provider may want to check with your insurance company for coverage details regarding biofeedback. Your local biofeedback provider is also likely to be aware of coverage issues.
As a form of “applied psychology” clinical biofeedback helps people alter their behaviors with feedback from their physiology. Behaviors such as muscle activity, peripheral blood flow, cardiac activity, sweat gland activity, brain electrical activity, and blood pressure can be altered using biofeedback. Some providers of clinical biofeedback call themselves “clinical psycho-physiologists. This name emphasizes the applied nature of their professional activities and their involvement with this scientific specialty.
Dr. Claude Bernard developed the concept of physiological “homeostasis” as the major process by which the body maintains itself. The concept became integral to the discipline of physiology. Physical and mental diseases are thought to occur because some homeostatic feedback mechanism is malfunctioning. One of the major effects of such homeostatic imbalance is stress. Stress is responsible for approximately 70% of visits to medical doctors! It is something to think about.
The purpose of biofeedback is to enhance an individual s awareness of physical reactions to physical, emotional, or psychological stress , and their ability to influence their own physiological responses. The overall purpose is to develop self-regulation skills that play a role in improving health and well-being.
Biofeedback has been used as a part of a comprehensive treatment approach with a number of conditions, including chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), Raynaud s syndrome, epilepsy, attention-deficit/hyper activity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, migraine headaches, depression, traumatic brain injury, and sleep disorders . There is some support for using biofeedback in the treatment of diabetes when self-monitoring of blood glucose levels is maintained and within the context of regular physician consultation and supervision.
Biofeedback has been a useful tool in helping individuals with urinary incontinence regain bladder control by controlling the muscles used in urination. Sensors are placed in the vaginal or anal canal to help individuals learn when the muscles are properly contracted. A recent study found that this type of biofeedback treatment was safe, effective, and well liked by women patients 55 years and older.
Conditions related to stress are also treated using biofeedback, such as certain types of headaches, high blood pressure, bruxism or teeth grinding, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, substance abuse, and some anxiety disorders. In treatment of stress-related conditions, biofeedback is often used in combination with relaxation training.
Sometimes, biofeedback is used to help individuals learn how to experience deeper relaxation, such as in childbirth education programs or general stress management. This is referred to as biofeedback-assisted relaxation training. Even for individuals who can achieve relaxation through other strategies such as meditation or relaxation, biofeedback can be a valuable added technique. Biofeedback offers special advantages, such as allowing the clinician to track closely the places where an individual tenses up and helps the individual learn what thoughts and feelings are associated with the tension.
In Dr. Walter B. Canon’s book, The Wisdom of the Body, he describes the natural causes and results of the innate stress response. He named this response fight or flight. Dr. Hans Selye’s extensive research led to a three stage concept on the nature of the physiological stress response. These stress stages; alarm, resistance, and exhaustion; can be seen as a person moves from perceived hardship, through coping (getting used to stress), to intolerance of the stress condition.
The brilliant work of Cannon and Selye contributed significantly to the development of the field of psychosomatic medicine. Their work increased awareness of the role of stress in physical and mental diseases. This awareness nurtured applied biofeedback, and many applications focused on stress-related disorders.
Within the United States there are many factors encouraging biofeedback applications. These factors include the heightened costs of health care and the resulting need for more efficacious and cost-effective medical treatments. In addition, it is commonly recognized that pharmacotherapy, with all its benefits, is of limited value for many patients. Some patients cannot take medications because of untoward side effects, some patients avoid compliance; and some physicians are actually deemphasizing pharmacotherapy.
Perhaps even more significant for biofeedback is the current popular public health emphasis on prevention. The movement toward wellness has continued to grow year after year. Practitioners of holistic health also emphasize self-regulation and self-control resulting in more people becoming involved in lifestyle changes to improve their health. These changes include physical fitness, caffeine and nicotine avoidance, alcohol reduction, and better weight control. More people are assuming increased responsibility for their physical, as well as their mental and spiritual, well-being. In addition, more people are accepting responsibility for their recovery from illness. Many patients, as well as practitioners, believe that biofeedback therapies facilitate and fit well into these efforts to self-regulation, wellness, and growth.