| One-Minute Clinician

Biofeedback: Misconceptions and Resistance

When we run into resistance with biofeedback, usually we first start by explaining exactly what it is. Biofeedback is a term that gets used a lot that either people don't know about or there's a lot of misperceptions or ways it can be represented. The biggest thing I start with is just making sure the person understands that they're not going to be injured or harmed. That there's not electricity or needles or hurt going to happen to them. And then I explain that we use computer technology to get information from their body, and then provide that information back to them in a way that empowers them and increases what they can do to enhance how they cope and live rather than just survive with chronic pain. One of the major goals with biofeedback, at least based on the way I've been trained, is to help patients get to a point where they don't need to continue with the therapist or the equipment. That they gain, increase body awareness, mindfulness, and other tools that can help improve things anywhere from muscle tension to circulatory dynamics, or other aspects that can contribute to the management of chronic pain. Relaxation is definitely a strong component of the biofeedback. A lot of times it's helping people understand more how to actually truly relax physically, mentally, and emotionally...not just the mental side that we tend to think of. Because with the biofeedback component we're not approaching the person as if the pain is in their head. The pain is real, and we want to treat it as such and give them real tools to be able to improve their quality of life. Insurance companies are unfortunately driving more healthcare than most of our medical recommendations and the people trained to do so. With biofeedback the reimbursement rates are equivalent to any psychological treatment or therapy. Most insurance companies have a level of requirement to provide at least some level of mental health treatment, and biofeedback is a tool that can be incorporated at least through the mental health window. I often use it in conjunction with counseling or psychological training or treatment. Biofeedback tends to be competitive with most other nonpharmacological tools, and even though it's still categorized as an alternative treatment, it fits within the category of accepted tools such as psychotherapy.

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