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Biofeedback in Behavioral Health

What’s Biofeedback Training Got to Do with Children’s Behavioral Health?

Biofeedback training fosters behavioral change by allowing us to access, understand and change the psychophysiological processes that influence our thinking and feeling.  By explicitly monitoring (“feeding back”) our physiological functions (e.g., sweat gland activity, peripheral blood flow, breathing patterns, and heart rate) as they co-vary with psychological processes (e.g., emotion, cognition, perception) we can experience and learn self-regulation. High quality biofeedback training ultimately allows for further integration and application of self-control skills into other aspects of our daily lives. In essence, biofeedback technology provides a psychophysiological mirror that we can use to develop and enhance our self-regulation skills.

There are three reasons that biofeedback training can promote behavioral health, particularly with young people. First, as a reflective surface, biofeedback training reinforces self-efficacy and autonomy by demonstrating that each user already has sufficient abilities and resources for change. Next, biofeedback training emphasizes the development of resilience and self-awareness: “No matter what happens around me, I can regulate my response.” Third, the technological nature of biofeedback allows for diverse, explicit learning, as well as playful social interaction during sessions, without the stigma attached to conventional mental health interventions.

Biofeedback training builds fundamental skills for adaptability, which can be applied to a range of behavioral health challenges including stress reduction, improving sleeping and eating habits, regulation of emotional expression, attentional control, and enhancing social interactions. Moreover, the biofeedback training that CAPS provides helps people help themselves rather than encouraging reliance and dependence on external interventions.