Biofeedback is not a stand alone treatment approach. It is best used to supplement traditional practices in the treatment of anxiety. Its greatest benefit comes at the beginning of treatment.
Most individuals suffering from anxiety are confronted with the preconception that they will need to talk about the events or circumstances that have produced their anxiety. With this perception in the forefront of their mind, making that first appointment to see a Psychologist is formidable, not to mention the feelings of dread related to actually attending the initial appointment.
This is not the case for all, but it is safe to say that the individual seeking treatment for anxiety has experienced a traumatic event and that the triggers reated to this event reoccur causing bouts off anxiety that have overwhelmed their usual coping skills to the point of producing disturbing symptoms.
An individual experiencing anxiety will have a different type of experience in their initial sessions if they consult a Psychologist using Biofeedback than those Psychologists involved in traditional therapies. The use of Biofeedback is more of a training in understanding how anxiety works in the mind and body. As a result the individuals first sessions are not usually directed to discussing the triggers or etiology of their anxiety. Consequently, the individual usually experiences a sense of relief in not having to explore their triggers or the etiology of their anxiety in the initial session and can enter into the Biofeedback training relaxed and without a sense of dread.
The initial sessions with the Biofeedback system actually show the individual the level of their anxiety without having to speak about it. In being able to see the physiological reaction to thoughts (both negative and positive) the individual is in a position to control the physical events of a panic attack, or what feels to them like a heart attack. Through the use of the Biofeedback training the individual can see the effects of other treatment approaches (meditation, mindfulness, use of breathe) on managing their anxiety symptoms and gain mastery of these skills. With continued demonstration of mastery the individual becomes confident that these new coping skills work. As the confidence grows, the therapy can move into more confrontive discussions regarding triggers and events that lead up to the anxiety.
It is at this stage that a more traditional therapy approach is brought into use. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is widely used in the treatment of anxiety and depression. With the individual seeking treatment for anxiety now feeling strong about their coping skills, the therapy moves along smoothly in addressing the triggers and traumatic events.
Biofeedback training therefore provides the individual seeking assistance for their anxiety the opportunity to address their symptoms from a position of strength which takes the dread out of the initial sessions which oftentimes is the greatest barrier to treatment.