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Holistic-online.com Biofeedback

Biofeedback Infocenter

Biofeedback in Action

In case of biofeedback, there are a number of techniques that can be used, but the most basic one is-to attach a GSR device to the person's fingertips. This measures the galvanic skin response, or minute amounts of perspiration on the skin. The more tense you are, the more perspiration there is on your skin. As you become calm, there is less and less.

The electrodes are attached to a machine which converts the electrical information into an easily observable form, such as a light or a buzzing noise. The machine can be adjusted, so that the buzzing sound is moderately audible at the beginning of the session. As the device picks up more perspiration, meaning more tension, the noise gets louder. If the person becomes calmer and there is less perspiration, the noise becomes lower and is finally extinguished.

Usually, the person hooked up to the biofeedback machine and told extinguish the buzz or the light. Since the person has no idea what to do, he or she will start experimenting to stop the annoying sound. If he tenses his muscles, for example, he will find that the noise is getting louder. Then, maybe he figures that if he relaxes, the buzz will go softer. So. he relaxes and the buzz does get softer. But it is not extinguished.

The person now will start putting himself/herself in various frames of mind that he believes will do the trick. There is a delay of several seconds between the feeling and the buzz, because it takes that long for the perspiration to appear on the skin, but he will soon enough find out if the machine is doing what he wants it to do. He tries other frames of mind. He imagines different scenes, different people, maybe different colors. Then, quite suddenly, he discovers that the sound is no longer there. He will start mentally examine what he did to get to that condition. In practice, he will recall it and keeps it up.

The therapist will now readjust the machine so that it has greater sensitivity. In other words, the buzz is going to sound when smaller amounts of perspiration are detected. In another session or two the person would probably learn how to counter this, and the process is continued until a satisfactory degree of relaxation is obtained. Once the person figures out how to do it with the help of machine, he can accomplish relaxation without the help of the machine by doing what he had to do as learned from the biofeedback techniques.

The same technique would be used to teach someone how to warm his hands, such as when we want him to control his migraine headaches. Here, instead of measuring perspiration, skin temperature would be measured. The person would imagine whatever he found necessary to do the trick. Incredibly, some people can not only boost the temperature of one hand over the other, but also to make one part of their palm warmer than the adjacent part!

Number of Sessions

Biofeedback sessions usually last thirty to sixty minutes. The number of sessions each week and the duration of the training depend on your condition and the progress you make. It generally should not exceed 15 sessions. The crucial last step in biofeedback training is taking what you have learned and applying it in your everyday life without the help of the machines.

Next: Practical Applications of Biofeedback and Clinical Trials

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