Biofeedback: How Can I Learn From My Body?

Biofeedback: How Can I Learn From My Body?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Recovery is a complex, intimate journey that requires clients to learn about themselves on a deeper level. Listening to one’s body, thoughts, and feelings is a crucial part of finding deep healing. The body can be a rich source of learning and growth. However, clients may wonder, “How exactly can I learn from my body?” One way is through biofeedback. At First Steps Recovery, our biofeedback program is known as neurofeedback therapy.

What Is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a body-oriented technique that relies on understanding sensory feedback to attain greater control over bodily functions. In this process, positive feedback and their associated actions are embedded into one’s memory. These positive reactions stick with clients to help improve their functional control and reactions.

Clients can receive visual, auditory, or tactile feedback. Upon receiving feedback, the client makes certain adjustments. Over time, clients become more aware of how their muscles and/or nervous system are responding. Then they can begin to adjust those responses to achieve a more desirable result.

This technique is typically used for clients coping with chronic illness but it also can be used for a number of disorders and symptoms. It can be used to better control one’s muscles as well as the autonomic nervous system. Biofeedback is a safe procedure for clients of any age and is completely voluntary. 

How Can I Learn From My Body to Support the Recovery and Healing Process?

Often clients in recovery feel like their bodily responses are involuntary. Biofeedback helps clients regain control over themselves and realize that their behaviors and body functions are more controllable than they knew. For clients experiencing the following ailments or symptoms, biofeedback may benefit their healing journey:

  • Constipation
  • Trouble controlling fecal and urinary processes
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines
  • Chronic insomnia or fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Epilepsy
  • Motion sickness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Raynaud phenomenon

Biofeedback and Depression

What’s more, clients with depression can benefit. Clients with depression experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. Depression can consume one’s life, altering it entirely. Some clients turn to drugs or alcohol to help cope with these difficult symptoms of depression.

Biofeedback can support this healing process by helping clients understand when (and what stimuli) motivate these overwhelming feelings of sadness. Then clients can work through these feelings to produce more positive behaviors. This can then help clients steer away from drug and alcohol use as they become more aware of their bodies and feelings.

Biofeedback and Anxiety

When clients are coping with anxiety, biofeedback works to assist them in recognizing stimuli that elicit heightened states of stress or nervousness. Through biofeedback, clients gain control over their responses to these stimuli. This increased sense of efficacy helps them lead more of a calm and empowered lifestyle.

It is important for clients to regain control over these “involuntary” responses to gain more self-direction in the healing process. Clients who can recognize their responses and work toward beneficially altering them can regain control over parts of their lives that they may have lost to their disorder.

How Can Neurofeedback Therapy Help Me Learn From My Body at First Steps Recovery?

First Steps Recovery’s neurofeedback therapy provides a noninvasive service for clients that alters the way their brains respond to certain stimuli. In neurofeedback therapy, clients’ brainwaves are measured to give them real-time feedback on how they are responding. The feedback clients receive is usually auditory or visual. From there, they learn how to gain control over seemingly involuntary reactions, such as heart rate and brain waves.

Neurofeedback shows clients when they are in a state of relaxation versus when they are in a heightened state of anxiety or agitation. By knowing which stimuli are causing heightened anxiety, clients can prepare and work through these seemingly involuntary responses. Neurofeedback, in other words, helps “retrain” the brain. Clients become more aware of themselves, their triggers, their reactions, and their cues. After using neurofeedback for a period of time, clients and their therapists are able to assess their progress.

Neurofeedback therapy is a type of biofeedback that can be used to assist with the following:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Insomnia
  • Drug addiction
  • Schizophrenia
  • Learning disabilities
  • Dyslexia and dyscalculia
  • Autistic spectrum disorders
  • Chronic pain management

Taking Control Over My Journey

A reason neurofeedback can be so helpful is that self-direction is key in the healing and recovery process. Taking control over one’s journey is helpful in avoiding the pull of addiction and negative mental states.

After using neurofeedback, clients become more able to work through their difficult responses when facing similar stimuli in the real world. Rather than relying on medications, biofeedback and neurofeedback therapy give clients the ability to overcome their overwhelming feelings on their own. Clients are then able to control their lives on a different scale and regain purpose in their lives beyond their disorders.

Here at First Steps Recovery, we offer neurofeedback therapy for clients looking to regain control over their “involuntary” reactions to certain stimuli. Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that promotes a self-directed process for managing symptoms and gaining awareness of reactions that may lead to substance use. Neurofeedback works because clients are exposed to certain audible and visual stimuli, record their immediate reactions, and work to regain control over their responses. Clients overcoming substance use disorders (SUDs), depression, or anxiety may benefit from this program. To learn more about neurofeedback therapy at First Steps Recovery or other services to help one’s healing journey, please call our facility at (844) 489-0836.

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