Biofeedback is a therapeutic technique that helps improve mental and physical health and performance by teaching one how to control physiological responses that are normally thought to be involuntary.
Instruments are used to measure subtle physical changes, such as breathing, heart rate, hand temperature, sweating, blood pressure, brainwaves, and muscle tension. These measurements are displayed on a computer monitor enabling us to become aware of bodily reactions to various conditions or stressors. Once we understand how our bodies respond, we are then equipped to voluntarily alter these processes that impact stress, pain, emotional distress, and decreased focus.
An everyday example of biofeedback can simplify this concept. When we step on a scale, we get information ("feedback") about how much we weigh. We may then use this information to alter our eating and exercise habits to lose weight. The feedback leads to awareness, which then allows us to voluntarily control our weight. Likewise, the measurements taken with professional biofeedback help us become aware of the way our body responds to challenging conditions (eg. stress, competition, worry) and teaches us how to gain control over these reactions.
Biofeedback provides an effective non-pharmacological treatment approach for many conditions, including anxiety, pain, stress and stress-related disorders, such as headaches, TMJ, hypertension, and insomnia. It is also highly successful in helping individuals attain peak performance in athletics, performing arts, business, and academics. Studies support biofeedback as an effective therapy and it is endorsed by the National Institute of Health (NIH).