Advances in medical research, the consumer empowerment, and rising cost of health care have demonstrated the need to treatment models that are holistic and client driven. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) offers consumers choices. It includes traditional healing practices, medical systems that are thousands of years old and new or innovative treatments that may be consider unconventional. Well known examples of CAM include herbal remedies, mindfulness, meditation, manipulative/movement therapies, and Chinese Medicine. Knowledge of CAM offers social workers in all settings the opportunity to provide education and advocacy in seeking client centered and culturally competent treatment options.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Health problems can be compounded by stress.  Clients and patients can begin to experience improved health outcomes by learning to develop better coping mechanisms for stress management through relaxation.   One of the ways practitioners can assist with relaxation training is biofeedback.  Biofeedback is a complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatment which has been scientifically demonstrated to improve health in a variety of ways.  It works by providing the patient direct information about bodily functions like temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension through the use of special equipment.  Patients can use this information to learn to control their bodily functions.  Overtime this can be accomplished in the absence of the use of specialized equipment.  Different types of biofeedback modalities include the measurement and feedback of muscle tension (electromyography [EMG]), temperature or thermal biofeedback, skin-conductive and brain activity (electroencephalography [EEG]).  Biofeedback practitioners are certified in clinical, academic or technician tracks biofeedback modalities by multiple regulatory boards.  Certification involves course work and training in the assessment, theory and application of biofeedback equipment.  Recent advances in technology have increased the accessibility of biofeedback by reducing the cost, portability and modality of the treatment devices (Clough & Casey, 2011).  Biofeedback is often combined with other psychotherapeutic interventions for optimal benefit, like guided imagery or cognitive behavioral therapy (Freeman, 2009).  Biofeedback has been scientifically proven effective in the treatment of anxiety, chronic pain, , post traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia, asthma, hypertension, attention-deficit disorder with hyperactivity, temporomandibular disorder, headaches, urinary incontinence in men, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, repetitive strain injuries, irritable bowel syndrome, and substance abuse disorders (Yucha & Gilbert, 2004). 
Clough, B. A., & Casey, L. M. (2011). Technological adjuncts to enhance current psychotherapy practices: A review. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(3), 279-292. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2010.12.008
Freeman, L.W. (2009) Mosby's complementary & alternative medicine: A research-based approach (3rd ed.). Mosby Elsevier Press.
Yucha C., Gilbert, C. Evidence-based practice in biofeedback and neurotherapy, Wheat Ridge, Co, 2004, Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.


  1. I read about Biofeedback as an alternative to traditional therapy. I've decided to use this technique myself,to reduce stress and anxiety that encounter daily. I like the idea that your heart rate,blood pressure and other vitals are monitored and you are immediately informed. This technique will show you how to respond in a positive way to negative reactions. Overall this technique can reduce my stress level and anxiety. I look forward to learning more about this technique, so I can better inform my clients.

    Deirdre Coleman,MSW

  2. Biofeedback is a technique you can learn to control your body's responses, such as your heart rate. It can be helpful for a variety of health problems.

  3. Biofeedback courses are distance learning program to increase knowledge about psychophysiological assessments and biofeedback interventions.

    Biofeedback Courses