WHY Biofeedback?

Biofeedback Therapy, also known as neurofeedback, has recently become a crucial component of many esteemed and reputable programs of addiction therapy – and for good reason. It has repeatedly proven extremely successful in helping to protect newly sober addicts and alcoholics from relapse. We at Sunshine Recovery have seen the extensive benefits of this particular form of addiction therapy firsthand, thus we have incorporated it into our overall program of addiction treatment as one of the many services we are proud to offer. But what is biofeedback, and how exactly does it work?

HOW does it work?

Brainwave biofeedback is a therapeutic process during which patients actually learn to change the patterns of their brainwaves. This practice has proven extremely beneficial in reducing stress, inducing relaxation, and eliminating the unhealthy impact that high-stress levels have on the central nervous system and the brain. In fact, the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College in London found that over eighty percent of studies that assessed biofeedback therapy found a significant reduction in negative symptoms in patients who underwent biofeedback. Biofeedback therapy has been proven successful in reducing stress, anxiety, physical and mental tension, and depression. Seeing as many relapses back into active addiction begin with an inability to effectively deal with stress and other unfavorable emotions, the capacity to regulate such feelings as they arise is truly invaluable. There are several types of biofeedback used in addiction therapy, as listed below:

  • Brainwave

    Brainwave biofeedback utilizes scalp sensors to track brain waves using an EEG (electroencephalograph). This helps to measure how a patient’s brainwaves change in response to certain actions. It can be useful in determining which actions or thoughts produce brainwaves that indicate stress or relaxation, allowing the patient to regulate their behavior and thought patterns to produce relaxation rather than anxiety.

  • Temperature

    Small sensors are attached to the feet and the fingers and are then utilized to monitor blood flow to the skin. In highly stressful situations, it is not uncommon for a person’s body temperature to drop. Thus, this method of biofeedback has been successful in helping individuals to identify and regulate stress. By identifying certain stressors, this therapy helps patients to become more aware of areas of their life that may require therapeutic work.

  • Breathing

    In this form of biofeedback, specially designed bands are placed around the chest and the abdomen in order to monitor the respiration rate and breathing patterns. Quick and uneven breathing typically points towards higher stress levels. Patients learn to slow their breathing patterns in order to relax. This also helps to indicate a patient’s stress triggers to their therapist, who can then use this information to better work with the patient to process difficult emotions or specific stressors.

  • Heart Rate

    In this specific method of biofeedback, sensors are placed on the chest and lower torso in order to measure the heart rate. Heart rate is a great indicator of stress, and patients will learn to focus their attentions on slowing their heart rates while actively relaxing their minds. Like other forms of biofeedback, measuring heart rate can also provide therapists with information about their patient that can aid them in the therapeutic process and in addressing stressful areas of the patient’s life.

  • Muscle

    In this specific method of biofeedback, EMG (electrocardiograph) sensors are placed over the skeletal muscles in order to monitor muscle contractions. Measuring muscle contractions can indicate patient stressors, providing the therapist with more information about the patient’s specific areas of difficulty. This aids in the therapeutic process by identifying problem areas for the patient that can be worked on in traditional talk therapy sessions.

  • Sweat Glands

    Sensors attached to the wrist, palm, or fingers measure the amount of sweat breaking through the skin, signifying anxiety levels. This allows for the patient to identify their own stressors, as well as to practice coping mechanisms that can reduce their stress level. When the reduction in stress can be measured, as it can through this method of biofeedback, patients can identify the most effective coping mechanisms for their emotions and use them in their daily lives.

MORE about Biofeedback

Biofeedback Addiction Therapy is most frequently received at inpatient treatment centers, hospitals, and physical therapy clinics. It is an ideal option for those who cannot tolerate medication, or who want to explore a natural and non-medical approach to addiction recovery. Biofeedback is also non-invasive, allowing patients to change their physical and emotional response to outside stimuli without altering their medication or daily routines. The specific type of biofeedback that you are exposed to will depend largely on your personal recovery goals, as well as any pre-existing medical conditions or health problems. Before beginning any type of biofeedback therapy, patients will complete an assessment conducted by a doctor or therapist who is experienced in addiction treatment and in utilizing biofeedback therapy. This assessment will determine the patient’s physical condition, mental well-being, specific medical or clinical needs, and recovery goals. This information will allow the therapist to help the individual select the biofeedback therapy or therapies that will be most beneficial for their recovery journey.

Many find the practice of biofeedback beneficial as well as empowering because it allows one to truly take recovery into his or her own hands by teaching the patient to self-regulate their reaction to various emotional and physical stimuli. Overall, biofeedback has been a positive addition to the therapy regimen for countless patients, helping them to reduce anxiety, depression, and tension, and promoting relaxation, serenity, calm, and peace of mind. For many patients seeking long-term recovery, achieving peace of mind amidst stressful situations or unpleasant emotions has been nearly impossible, leading to relapse and a resurgence of addictive behaviors. For these patients, relapse is no longer the inevitable result of stress or anxiety. Biofeedback therapy, along with other therapeutic methods offered at Sunshine Recovery, can help these patients to manage their emotions and to react positively to any life event by teaching them to regulate emotions and process them in a healthy and productive way. For more information on biofeedback in general, or to learn more about our specific program of addiction recovery, please feel free to call today.

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