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What Is the Difference Between Hypnosis and Biofeedback?

kid in movie theater with popcorn in lap

Treatment with both hypnosis and biofeedback involves teaching our minds and bodies to become calmerHowever, while hypnosis relies on teaching patients to calm themselves by focusing on words, images, or thoughts, biofeedback involves training patients to regulate themselves by showing them the results of electronic monitoring of their body’s reactions. 


Neuro-biofeedback in Action 

For example, neuro-biofeedback involves putting electrodes on a patient’s head and monitoring the electrical activity of the brainThe patient is then shown a movie that interests themThe movie keeps playing as long the brain electrical activity is calmIf the electrical activity becomes agitated the movie pauses. 

Very quickly, patients learn how to calm their brain electrical activity so that the movie will restartIt is remarkable that patients cannot explain in words how they calm themselves, but they easily learn how to do soAfter attending 10-20 of such neuro-biofeedback sessions, these patients’ brain activity becomes calmer and calmer even when they are not in a sessionIn turn, symptoms that can be the result of agitated brain activity such as anxiety, headachesand difficulty in focusing, can improve. 

Another type of biofeedback involves monitoring the patient’s pulseIt turns out that when patients breathe slowly and calmly, the patients’ pulse rates tend to become more regular and change more gradually from moment to momentWith this kind of biofeedback, patients are trained to breathe in a healthy way that achieves an optimal heart rate patternOver time, such breathing can lead to improved symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and focusing ability. 

For more information about hypnosis, please consult the blog published on January 19, 2021:  What is hypnosis?  

Some experts believe that patients who cannot use hypnosis easily are more likely to benefit from biofeedbackAn additional advantage of biofeedback is that patients can be more passive while it is being employedWhile a patient engaged in hypnosis needs to focus actively on a hypnotic intervention, a patient using neuro-biofeedback could simply be focused on watching a movie. 

Since biofeedback does not involve counseling, it does not allow patients to uncover what is bothering them or provide an opportunity for patients to learn to restructure their thought pattern as an additional way of reducing their stressBiofeedback does not involve accessing thought processes or hidden brain activities that might change conscious responsesOn the other hand, the suggestions utilized before, during, and after hypnosis can provide the guidance required for triggering such cognitive change. 


Take Home Message 

Since biofeedback depends on using equipment, and often requires multiple sessions of training, hypnosis may be a more practical and economical therapy.   

Further, hypnosis and counseling are more likely to be associated with enhanced self-esteem as patients learn to take charge of the process that leads to their improved mental health. 


About Center Point Medicine  

You can learn more about Center Point Medicine, hypnosis, and other great topics by following us on social media or heading over to our website. New blogs are added weekly. A list of all current blogs can be found HERE. 

For medical professionals looking to open their own Center Point Medicine office providing pediatric counseling and hypnosis services to your local community, please follow this LINK to learn more about our franchising opportunities.  


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Profile Photo or Ran D. Anbar, MD, FAAP Ran D. Anbar, MD Ran D. Anbar, MD, FAAP, is board certified in both pediatric pulmonology and general pediatrics, offering hypnosis and counseling services at Center Point Medicine in La Jolla, California, and Syracuse, New York. Dr. Anbar is also a fellow and approved consultant of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Dr. Anbar is a leader in clinical hypnosis, and his 20 years of experience have allowed him to successfully treat over 5,000 children. He also served as a professor of pediatrics and medicine and the director of pediatric pulmonology at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, for 21 years.

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