Biofeedback Therapy: 3 Facts About the Innovative Treatment

At GateHouse Treatment, we believe in a holistic approach to tackling addiction therapy that incorporates every aspect of healthy living. As much as beating addictions is a matter of counseling and time, sometimes your best tool against cravings is yourself. The idea behind biofeedback therapy is that you can make your body hyper-aware of your stressors and anxieties.

With awareness comes the understanding of when something is wrong, like our pain sensors warning us when we put a hand on a hot stove. Biofeedback therapy measures reactions in the brain and body that we are sometimes aware of but finds difficulty controlling. These mental processes that occur under the surface significantly affect emotions, disposition, willpower, and wellness. Therapy can address these problems and condition the body to avoid negative emotions that lead down the path of addiction.

What Is Biofeedback Therapy?

The link between thought and action seems reasonably clear when you think of controlling your body. You can tell your legs or arms to move, you can manually blink your eyes, and you can take a deep breath when you need it. But several subtler functions impact our mood and behavior. These include heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and brain waves that we aren’t entirely cognizant of, though they affect us deeply.

The relationship between these functions is endlessly complicated. When you are emotionally stressed or anxious, your heart rate might increase. But this can also work in the opposite. For example, when you drink coffee, your heart rate will go up, and even if nothing in your life is making you anxious, the simple fact that your heart rate has accelerated will trigger your body’s anxiety response.

Biofeedback therapy rests on the discovery that just as you control your motor skills, there are things you can do to influence the subtler physiological processes of your body. It is a treatment that teaches self-regulation by reinforcing good neurofeedback and identifying the bad, thereby making it possible to reduce the anxiety and physical side effects that come with addiction.

How Biofeedback Therapy Works

At GateHouse Treatment, we utilize a biofeedback therapy monitoring bed to begin the process. A counselor will be there to monitor your vitals. Their role is to check on your physiological responses and different brain wavelength patterns. When examining the brains of addicts with Electroencephalography (EEG), which show electrical patterns, they were found to be different in noticeable ways. Specific wavelength patterns associated with hyperexcitability were present.

These hyperexcitability patterns, called high-beta waves, are what the counselor is monitoring. They are associated with stress, anxiety, paranoia, and heightened states of emotionality that come with feeling the pangs of addiction.

Once the data is collected, you will see your emotional baseline and how your body and brain work in tandem to make you upset. Only then can the work start to make a change. The counselor might explain some meditative or breathing techniques you can use to alter your brain and body activity. This is used in tandem with guided imagery, music therapy, and sound frequency massages to alleviate stress, anxiety, withdrawal symptoms, and muscle tension.

The point of biofeedback therapy is to identify which technique works. Since a counselor is monitoring you, they will be able to see what makes a difference in your heart rate and brain waves. The work then becomes being able to access a state of bliss and calm more readily. In the context of drug addiction therapy, this involves feedback learning and conditioning. The more biofeedback therapy you do, the better you will become at noticing and controlling what you previously couldn’t—sessions at GateHouse Treatment last around 30 minutes.

Is Biofeedback Therapy Effective?

Many people are skeptical about biofeedback therapy when first hearing about it. It sounds too sci-fi or, at the very least, an oversimplification. Can you actually fine-tune your body and brain through consistent practice? Yes, you can. Biofeedback therapy is entirely backed by research.

The behaviors this therapy can help adjust are classified in a 5-tier ranking system that classifies the therapy by efficacy, meaning how likely the therapy is to make a difference. At the lowest level are things not backed by empirical data, such as biofeedback therapy used to treat spinal cord injuries. At level 3 sits substance abuse issues, backed by decades of studies showing that it does produce a quantifiable effect.

In 1995 a study with 14 alcohol-dependent outpatients who underwent biofeedback therapy found significant decreases in depression and sustained sobriety after 21 months. A 2004 study with 16 chemically addicted patients confirmed these results. 81.3% were still sober four years after undergoing biofeedback therapy. The practice has been shown as productive not only for alcohol dependence but for a variety of addictions.

An added benefit of Biofeedback therapy is that it doesn’t just help fend off addiction but improves general wellness. Being in control of your body and emotions is a skill with applications far outside recovery. In high-stress career or family situations, it comes in handy to tap into inner reserves of calm and stability.

It’s important to note that this therapy is not a cure-all. Biofeedback therapy is part of a treatment plan to tackle addiction thoroughly. Depending on the severity and type of addiction, it will be paired with conventional counseling, sober living, 12-step programs, and other hallmarks of addiction treatment. It should be viewed as an additional, powerful tool in your kit against dependence.

GateHouse Treatment Can Help

Biofeedback therapy is just one of the many things we offer at GateHouse Treatment. We know what you are going through, and no matter your addiction, we offer a variety of treatments with understanding and compassion. From sober homes, outpatient treatment, and detox to medication-assisted treatment, we are ready to help.

GateHouse Treatment offers some of the highest-quality treatment in the country. Contact us or pick up the phone and call (855) 448-3707. A team of experts is ready to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Take the first step toward a life of joy and recovery.

GateHouse Treatment Editorial Staff

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