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The Process of Biofeedback

For any individual that believes he or she is under chronic stress, but especially for those who are experiencing symptoms, such as, headache, upset stomach, diarrhea, sleeping problems, anxiety, or feeling down in the dumps, biofeedback is the mechanism for reversing the autonomic fight-or-flight response and engaging the relaxation response.

Biofeedback is the process of bringing involuntary physiological functions under voluntary control. Biofeedback trains the nervous system to shut out excessive stimulation and perserverative thoughts and emotional reactions. Through biofeedback the individual steps back from daily concerns and focuses on returning the body to homeostasis through calming, relaxing music, visualization, and slow diaphragmatic breathing.

The goal of thermal biofeedback is to raise the finger temperature to 96 degrees F (the average finger temperature is 85 degrees F). For those with a chronic medical problem, the finger temperature may drop to 70 degrees F. Finger temperature is a sign of the amount of stress the body is carrying. It is also part of the polygraph test, indicating that a drop in finger temperature is an indicator of negative thoughts. Even though do-it-yourself biofeedback training is possible for the majority of people, a list of accredited biofeedback specialists may be found at www.aapb.org (Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback). A Biofeedback Kit that consists of a CD with four 10-minute visualizations and a finger thermometer may be accessed at www.headachecare.com.

Relaxation Training: After taping a finger thermometer on the index finger, follow the suggestions on the CD about diaphragmatic breathing at a very slow rate with the eyes closed. The background calming music is followed by visualizations to produce a deep sense of relaxation, peace, and serenity. This produces a sense of well-being that can be generalized to overcome the irritation of physical symptoms. And this can be the beginning of healing and a return to health.

Do you recommend biofeedback training to your patients?

Do you have a working relationship with a psychologist trained in helping individuals with medical problems?