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.