Treatment with both hypnosis and biofeedback involves teaching our minds and bodies to become calmer. However, 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 brain. The patient is then shown a movie that interests them. The movie keeps playing as long the brain electrical activity is calm. If the electrical activity becomes agitated the movie pauses.
Very quickly, patients learn how to calm their brain electrical activity so that the movie will restart. It is remarkable that patients cannot explain in words how they calm themselves, but they easily learn how to do so. After attending 10-20 of such neuro-biofeedback sessions, these patients’ brain activity becomes calmer and calmer even when they are not in a session. In turn, symptoms that can be the result of agitated brain activity such as anxiety, headaches, and difficulty in focusing, can improve.
Another type of biofeedback involves monitoring the patient’s pulse. It 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 moment. With this kind of biofeedback, patients are trained to breathe in a healthy way that achieves an optimal heart rate pattern. Over 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 biofeedback. An additional advantage of biofeedback is that patients can be more passive while it is being employed. While 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 stress. Biofeedback does not involve accessing thought processes or hidden brain activities that might change conscious responses. On 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.
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