"What the method showed me was that it is possible for me to relax. It is alleviate and/or "head off" anxiety as or before it rears its ugly head...I learned how to detect anxiety coming on before it took over...What I can tell you is that I am now able to work, live, and accomplish without the stumbling block of anxiety...I would certainly recommend biofeedback to any student who has a mental stumbling block that rules their days, rather than letting them accomplish what they've set out to do."
(Mike, SHSU).
Biofeedback is a relatively new therapeutic tool that is showing increasing promise in the treatment of a wide variety of psychological and physical problems and symptoms. Biofeedback is very useful for achieving stress reduction, reducing anxiety and alleviating physical tension.


Biofeedback is a therapeutic technique that helps clients develop the ability to control certain physiological processes. The means to do this include monitoring the physiological response in the client and displaying the signals generated by the monitoring technique to the therapist and client. The client uses this biological feedback to learn about and gain control of his/her responses. Biofeedback is, therefore, an educational process in which the client is helped to learn to control certain physiological processes, but it is the client who assumes the responsibility for and becomes an active participant in his/her own improvement.

The therapist utilizes different techniques to facilitate the acquisition of such control (none of the techniques used in the Counseling Center include surgical or pharmacological adjuncts). An additional benefit of this program is that the client increases his/her feelings of self-control and personal mastery because it is him/her who produces the desired changes by following the therapist's instructions and practicing regularly.


Biofeedback is a primary treatment for moderate or severe migraine syndromes, tension headaches, and Raynaud's disease. Biofeedback is also an important adjunctive therapy for the following conditions:

  Stress reduction
  Spasmodic torticollis
  Learning disabilities
  Functional gastrointestinal disorders


Biofeedback is used in a variety of stress and anxiety producing situations. These situations involve job- or study-related physical and psychological problems, as well as those cases where a person wishes to learn to relax more. In all these cases, structured stress and anxiety reducing interventions using biofeedback has proven to be effective. Biofeedback has shown essentially no negative side effects in any of these situations.


Biofeedback seems to have a very low potential for damage (if used properly, of course.) There are no absolute contraindications and few relative contraindications for this therapeutic technique:

  • Unevaluated symptoms. Biofeedback should not be used for treating unevaluated symptoms such as:
  • Cognitive impairment: Cognitive impairments that interfere with an understanding of the biofeedback process can preclude successful treatment.
  • Apprehensive clients: If a client views biofeedback with apprehension the procedure should not be applied.

    Here are some helpful guidelines to determine who would (or would not) benefit from biofeedback:

  • Physiological responsivity: The client should show some level of physiological responsivity otherwise the biofeedback procedure will not be very useful.
  • Motivation: The client should be motivated. Reading articles, brochures, or talking with a former successful client about biofeedback can help the client understand the benefits of this procedure.
  • Personality characteristics: Clients with rigid personality traits are not very responsive to a psychophysiologically-based treatment technique.
  • Secondary gains: Clients getting excessive sympathy and attention from their symptoms may not be willing to give up those symptoms. This problem should be solved before biofeedback is attempted.


    Biofeedback can be used alone or in conjunction with other techniques such as autogenic training, guided imagery and Jacobson's technique.


    Biofeedback will be useful if and only if the client is willing to take the time necessary to learn the self-control skills and then practice them conscientiously as needed. Remember, the therapist may have designed the best program, but unless the client follows it, no benefit will be obtained.


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    The Help Screens (HS) & the Counseling Center Help Screens (CCHS) were created by Carlos P. Zalaquett, Ph.D.

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