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When a person determines biofeedback is the right complementary therapy, he or she should plan on participating in eight to 12 sessions for most mental health problems and many medical problems. However, some problems, such as epilepsy, alcoholism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, require more frequent, lengthy treatment. Sessions for more difficult problems may be scheduled two to three times a week and require 30 to 60 treatments, says Don Moss, PhD, president-elect of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB) in Wheat Ridge, CO.
Treatment should begin with a clinical interview in which the therapist learns about the patient’s life, family, work, sources of stress, coping skills, and medical and emotional problems. "Biofeedback is a holistic mind-body therapy, meaning that we see any illness or problem as involving the whole person. Therefore, we must begin by getting to know the person who has the illness," explains Moss.
Following the interview, the therapist will do a biofeedback evaluation to identify the patient’s unique stress response. The evaluation helps in the design of the treatment. For example, if during a discussion of work stress, the patient has increased muscle tension in his or her shoulders and cooler hands, the treatment might focus on muscle relaxation and learning to dilate the arteries in order to warm the hands.
For best results, a person should seek a well-qualified biofeedback practitioner. Moss suggests the patient ask the following questions during the selection process:
• Are you certified by the Biofeedback Certifi-cation Institute of America (BCIA)?
To be certified by Wheat Ridge, CO-based BCIA, practitioners must accumulate educational credit, practical supervised experience, and pass an exam. To do so, they attend college classes and approved training workshops, read extensively, and undergo supervised training and practice. "The BCIA certification tells the patient that the therapist has done all of those things," says Moss. (To obtain a list of practitioners, see editor’s note at end of article.)
• What state and national biofeedback organizations do you belong to, and what state and national conferences or biofeedback training workshops have you attended in the past two years?
Competent professionals belong to professional societies and attend meetings in order to keep their skills and knowledge current, says Moss.
• What journals and news magazines do you subscribe to in order to keep up with progress in biofeedback treatment?
Keeping knowledge current by reading current reports is important for competency.
• Are you licensed or certified for independent practice as a health care provider in this state?
Biofeedback professionals are usually also licensed within a profession, such as medicine, psychology, nursing, or physical therapy, explains Moss.
People seeking biofeedback should expect to pay from $60 to $120 for a one-hour session depending on what area of the country they live.
(Editor’s note: For a free copy of Finding a Practi-tioner, send a self-addressed, stamped business-sized envelope to: BCIA, 10200 W. 44th Ave. #310, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033. Or access information on the World Wide Web: www.bcia.org.)