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 ..
What is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback itself is mildly entertaining because it allows you to see changes in your body organs in real time. Some biofeedback games use signals to change computer games, and are a lot of fun. That is not biofeedback training however.
Biofeedback TRAINING is what we do. Biofeedback Training is a non-invasive, painless real-time awareness training program, similar to training with exercise equipment. It is effective for many learning, behavioral, and physiological problems. We are using it to promote NEURBEHAVIORAL LEARNIING, a very primitive brain-behavior connect. This is not about talking; this is about awareness but it is not like a pill. Like exercise, you must repeat it many times to gain skill and 'strength' as you use it.
After a number of sessions, you become aware of prevoiusly murky or vague internal states like stress, relaxation, attention and anxiety, and can choose to change it without the machine.
Is biofeedback different from neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback using brainwaves . Biofeedback is also used for non-brainwave signals like muscle EMG.
Decades ago biofeedback was divided into two camps: One camp used muscle EMG, heat rate, skin conductance, respiration and finger tempurature signals for feedback; another camp only used brainwaves. Because historically they used and continue to use completely different devises, the two camps remain divided up to this day. A few of us however have medical instruments that detect both brainwaves and other signals. We call these devises NeuroBiofeedback instruments.
Are there advantages to biofeedback over talk therapy or other forms of rehabilitation?
We an also provide talk therapy as needed. And other forms of rehabilitation are encouraged. This is not an either/or distinction.
Unfortnately changing long-established patterns of behavior often require more than talk. Good intentions and hard workaneed to be directed to correcting ingrained patterns. Many behavior patterns are created and maintained at deep instantaneous reflexive neuro-physiological levels, just below the cusp of awareness. Biofedback training helps arise awareness, lowers the threshold for seeing these patterns and allows new patterns to emerge. Biofeedack allows learning to be directly aware of the processes themselves long before before cognitive or talking even enters into the picture.
I am doubtful. Can I just come in for a single session?
Of course you can. But it is very unlikely that you will feel lasting changes.
Biofeedback is a learning process. Because it is a learning process, its results are seen gradually, over time. Also because it is a learning process, once achieved, enhancements in performance most often maintain themselves permanently.
How does it work?
Neurofeedback and Biofeedback assist the body in learning to self-regulate. The natural function of the nervous system is to monitor and regulate activity so that the person can achieve optimal performance. It is easy for this system to be deregulated in our modern world due to physical and emotional stress, environmental pollution, injury, and poor nutrition.
Neurofeedback and Biofeedback gives feedback to the nervous system about it's own performance, which in turn, trains the nervous system to improve it s functioning. Most skills we learn in life are learned by receiving feedback on performance i.e. reading, playing sports, playing a musical instrument, driving a car, etc…. With Neurofeedback and Biofeedback the body can learn to regulate it s own functions such as attention, blood pressure, heart rate variability, skin temperature, muscle performance, pain management, anger, impulsive behaviors, etc… by receiving feedback about its performance. In other words, the mind and body learn through feedback.
Who's using Neurofeedback & Biofeedback today?
NASA, the Air Force, Universities, Olympic Athletes, Schools, Army (West Point), Business Executives, Musicians, Golfers, TV Stars, Champion Tennis Players, Opera Singers, College Students, World Cup Soccer Players, Olympic Gold Medal Skier to name a few.
Can you provide some examples?
There are so many. A recent Google search revealed thousands of references. Be aware that only a few are from licensed psycologists, and fewer still are registered with BCIA.
ADD and ADHD are diagnosed using a checklist or questionnaire to evaluate how well a child s behavior matches a list of criteria. Other conditions often have some of the same behaviors and can make a clear diagnosis difficult to determine. Dr. Frank Lawlis on the Dr. Phil show discussed how using qEEG or brain mapping can help parents determine if their child actually has ADD. Several brainwave patterns can indicate ADD but the most significant one is too much theta (slow brain waves) in the front and central areas of the brain. In his book, The ADD Answer, Dr. Lawlis discusses how biofeedback can be used to train the brain. Thermal feedback, breath work , heart rate variability, and neurofeedback are all useful in helping to control ADD symptoms. In their new book, Delivered from Distraction, Hallowell and Ratey discuss how qEEG can be used to verify an ADD diagnosis. They are currently using qEEG in their own clinic. Since his attendance at one of the Neurofeedback conferences, The Society for the Advancement of Brain Analysis, Dr. Holloween has started using neurofeedback in his private practice. In Greensboro, qEEG, biofeedback and neurofeedback training are available at Neurofeedback Associates.
How does biofeedback control pain?
Certain disorders such as headaches, asthma, anxiety, side effects of chemotherapy, etc., and the pain associated with these disorders, are closely connected with these body responses, such as breathing and sweating. When a person is in pain, their muscles become tense, which worsens the pain. Learning to reduce muscle tension, therefore, reduces pain. For example, migraine headaches are usually associated with lowered skin temperature. Learning to raise skin temperature reduces headache pain. With the use of biofeedback instruments, you learn how to recognize problematic body changes and how to reverse them before they set off a flare-up of pain. Biofeedback helps you feel better and be in greater CONTROL of your body’s responses, instead of feeling helpless to decrease pain.
What is the goal of biofeedback?
To learn to reduce tension (i.e., stress, pain, discomfort) in your body; to recognize early warning signs of stress and control it before you really become stressed out and before it controls you. Biofeedback is a skill, and like any skill, practice and knowledge are important for progress. Children who participate in biofeedback training and therapy often achieve significant symptom reduction and are able to reduce or eliminate medications while experiencing a renewed sense of physical and mental well-being. In fact, children report that biofeedback training is fun, relaxing, and an enjoyable experience.