What is biofeedback?


Each individual can, at will, affect any physiological function that can be perceived. Biofeedback is thus based on the ability of humans to change bodily functions through learning processes. Most therapeutic methods bring about changes beyond the desired goal that were not desired or necessary for the treatment (Rief, Birbaumer2010).

Biofeedback is a scientifically proven method that is used right on the dividing line between mind and body and utilizes the correlation between physical and mental functions. Through special electronic devices and sensors, continuous feedback is given in visual or auditory form to subconscious physiological functions that are amenable to exercise (e.g., muscle tension, epidermal electroconductivity, heart rate, brain waves, respiration, temperature, etc.).

Biofeedback is therefore a way of learning physical perception, self-control and self-healing. It addresses mental, psychosomatic and physical dysfunctions. The basic premise is that the dysfunction to be addressed is created and sustained by a misalignment of the nervous system. With systematic practice, self-control of physiological/biological functions is regained.

There is almost no discomfort associated with mental dysfunction that is not positively affected by biofeedback.

Biofeedback offers a multitude of potential applications in medicine, therapy and personal development. The processes of feedback/feedback of physiological changes via a screen, leads to the individual re-learning the relationship they have with their body and recognising and understanding the connection between mind and body.

Biofeedback is an established process.

Biofeedback is an internationally established method in clinical psychology, psychotherapy and medicine. The effectiveness of biofeedback is proven by many studies. Classical biofeedback methods were developed in the 50s and 70s in the USA. Nowadays they are supported by electronic and modern specialised software.



Areas of application of biofeedback

As mentioned above, biofeedback has an extremely wide range of applications. These areas are:

– Psychology and psychotherapy, Diagnosis, Phobias, Panic attacks, Stress Management, Distraction/Distraction, Depression, Breathing exercises, Mental training
– Neurological symptoms, Stroke, Epilepsy attacks, Paresis
– Pain syndrome/pain treatment, Chronic muscle aches, Chronic back pain, Chronic back pain, Teeth grinding, Migraine, Tension headache
– Psychosomatic disorders
– Increased performance ( sport, profession, personal)
– Coaching

Indicatively in the following dysfunctions biofeedback can offer quite good results according to Martin & Rief:

  1. Emotional/biometric disorders
    2. Phobic disorders
    3. Post-traumatic disorders
    4. Somatoform disorders and physical discomfort, without adequate medical explanation
    5. Eating disorders
    6. Sleep disorders
    7. Sexual dysfunctions
    8. Mental and social factors in physical illnesses (migraine, tension-type headache, hypertonia, chronic back pain, facial pain, asthma and lung diseases, rheumatism, muscle aches, incontinence)
    9. Personality disorders
    10. Cerebral/organic dysfunctions ( epilepsy, paresis after stroke or other brain disease)
    11. Dependence and substance abuse
    12. Schizophrenia
    13. Psychological and social factors of intelligence decline (Martin, Rief 2008)
    14. Hypertension
    15. Teeth grinding
    16. Blood flow problems (Mb.Raynaud)
    17. Muscle soreness


Training in biofeedback therapy

Biofeedback therapy is practiced abroad only by people trained by official Biofeedback societies (such as the Austrian Biofeedback and Psychophysiology Society). The title of Biofeedback Therapist can only be held by a medical doctor or psychologist trained in clinical psychology or psychotherapy.

The most common training program to become a Biofeedback Therapist is one year (150 hours plus supervision) and includes a thesis (presentation of a case with a full description of the intervention).