This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
During a biofeedback session, you will sit comfortably in a quiet room. The therapist may tape sensors to your forehead or arm to measure the amount of tension in your muscles. You might also have a heat sensor taped to a finger (as you relax, your finger grows warmer). A small machine wired to the sensors then measures responses such as muscle tension, skin temperature, heart rate, and breathing, and translates them into audio or visual signals. You can then use a relaxation technique the therapist has taught you to modulate the signal, which is typically a series of beeps, a flashing light, or a changing image on a computer screen.
By paying attention to the "feedback" from the monitoring machine you can tell how well you are progressing with the therapy. When you make the "correct" response--by relaxing your tense jaw, for instance--you get positive feedback from the machine: The light stops flashing, the beeping stops, or the image on the computer screen changes from an angry face to a happy one. Once you learn to adjust your body's reactions, you'll begin to recognize how the correct (healthier) response feels. The goal is to be able to duplicate this response on your own, without the help of the biofeedback equipment. Like most skills, the more you practice, the more adept you will become at altering the feedback.
Getting hooked up to a biofeedback machine doesn't hurt and is an easy process. You automatically send signals to the machine and it measures them. Most people require between five and 10 sessions to learn how to recognize and control their bodies' responses.
Many health insurance polices now cover biofeedback training to help patients cope with chronic stress-related health problems.