Biofeedback Vs. Neurofeedback: What Is The Difference Between Them

biofeedback vs neurofeedback

I often get asked by my patients, “What’s the difference between biofeedback and neurofeedback?” It’s a great question, and one that deserves an answer.

Here at Transformation Counseling & Neurotherapy we don’t offer biofeedback but we certainly know about it and can refer you to a biofeedback clinic. It is, however, important to know the difference between the two.

Especially since a very common description of neurotherapy is “biofeedback for the brain“.

Biofeedback is used to help people become more aware of their physical body in order to gain control over it. It involves monitoring physiological responses, such as heart rate, skin temperature, and muscle tension, and then providing feedback to the person so they can learn to control these body functions. It is often used to help people relax or reduce pain.

Neurofeedback is similar in that it also helps people gain control over their body’s physical functions. However, instead of focusing on physiological responses, neurofeedback focuses on electrical activities in the brain. This is done using EEG (electroencephalogram) technology which records and monitors signals from various areas of the brain.

Both types of therapy use external machines or sensors to monitor and measure changes in the body (biofeedback) or the brain (neurofeedback).

The key differences between neurofeedback and biofeedback is that neurofeedback focuses on brain wave activity rather than body functions. Neurofeedback utilizes electroencephalography (EEG) technology to measure electrical activity in the brain, allowing practitioners to assess the effects of mental tasks or processes.

With this information, a practitioner can then teach patients to recognize and control their own EEG patterns, ultimately helping to promote relaxation, focus and other mental skills.

Ultimately both neurofeedback and biofeedback offer effective treatments for a variety of physical and mental health issues.

Let me explain in some more detail what each of these therapies can do for you and how they compare.

History Of Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback Therapy is a type of therapy that has been used for over 50 years and is an evidence-based approach to controlling many physical and mental health symptoms.

In 1961, Neal Miller, an experimental psychologist, suggested that autonomic nervous system responses (for instance, heart rate, blood pressure, gastrointestinal activity, regional blood flow) could be under voluntary control. As a result of his experiments, he showed that such autonomic processes were controllable. This work led to the creation of biofeedback therapy.

In 1969 the Biofeedback Research Society was created and in 1975, the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback was established as a membership organization. Biofeedback therapy saw significant growth in the 1970s due to its success at treating a variety of conditions such as stress, high blood pressure, chronic pain, migraines, anxiety and insomnia.

Today biofeedback therapy is used to treat a range of health problems and is one of the most popular alternative therapies.

How Does Biofeedback Therapy Work?

In a biofeedback therapy session, the patient is connected to sensors that measure physiological responses, such as heart rate, breathing rate, and skin temperature. The data is then displayed on a computer screen, in real time, for the patient to see in real-time. Some say it looks like a video game.

The biofeedback device then provides feedback in the form of visual or auditory cues. Through this feedback, individuals can learn to recognize patterns in their own involuntary bodily functions and gain control over these processes. By doing so, they can reduce stress levels, improve performance in activities such as sports or music, and increase relaxation.

With practice, the patient can learn how to control these reflexive body responses by using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or guided imagery. Over time, this practice helps patients gain a better understanding of their body’s responses to stress and how to control them.

By being able to recognize changes in their own body, people may even be better equipped to manage their own symptoms and take steps to improve their overall well-being.

What Is Biofeedback Used For?

Biofeedback is a technique used to help individuals become more aware of their physiological processes and to learn how to control them. It is used for a variety of applications including, but not limited to:

  • Stress management: Biofeedback can be used to teach individuals to relax and reduce stress by monitoring physiological processes such as heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
  • Pain management: Biofeedback can be used to help individuals manage chronic pain conditions by learning to control physiological processes that contribute to pain.
  • Headaches: Biofeedback can be used to help individuals manage tension headaches and migraines by learning to control muscle tension and blood flow.
  • Neurological disorders: Biofeedback can be used to help individuals with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis manage their symptoms.
  • Cardiac and respiratory conditions: Biofeedback can be used to help individuals with conditions such as hypertension and asthma manage their symptoms.
  • Mental health: Biofeedback can be used to help individuals with conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) manage their symptoms.

These are the most common uses of biofeedback but of course, there are more.

Biofeedback therapy is often used in conjunction other therapies such as physical therapy, counseling, stress relaxation techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy and more.

Is Biofeedback Therapy Legitimate?

The short answer is yes! Biofeedback therapy has been around for decades and has proven to be an effective form of treatment for a variety of conditions. It works by providing patients with real-time feedback about their physiological responses, such as heart rate, respiration, skin temperature, and muscle tension.

This information helps them to become aware of and learn to control these involuntary functions, allowing them to better manage their symptoms. Biofeedback has been used to treat headaches, hypertension, stress, chronic pain, autism spectrum disorder, migraines and more.

What Happens In A Biofeedback Session?

During a biofeedback session, the therapist will use specialized equipment to measure an individual’s physiological responses.

These responses are then presented to the patient in a visual or auditory form, such as an image on a screen that changes color when their heart rate increases. The patient can then use this information to gain an understanding of how their body is responding and work toward regulating these processes with relaxation techniques or other methods.

Biofeedback has been studied extensively by researchers and healthcare professionals who support its efficacy in helping to reduce stress and improve overall health. While biofeedback is not a substitute for traditional medical treatment, it has been shown to be an effective way to achieve positive outcomes without the use of medications or other interventions.

Biofeedback therapy sessions are typically short, lasting thirty minutes to an hour each week. During these sessions, the patient is hooked up to various sensors that measure their blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature.

These readings are monitored by the biofeedback therapist who then helps the patient understand how their body is responding and work toward regulating these processes with relaxation techniques or other methods.

While biofeedback therapy has been shown to have positive results for some people, it’s important to remember that it is not a “cure-all.” In fact, some medical conditions and symptoms may not respond to biofeedback therapy at all.

Moreover, it should be noted that biofeedback therapy is not generally recommended as the only treatment for any medical or psychological condition. It works best when used in combination with other treatments such as cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness meditation.

It is also important to remember that biofeedback therapy should only be administered by a qualified professional. In addition to ensuring the best possible outcome for the patient, a trained therapist can help identify any potential issues or risks associated with biofeedback therapy.

Before beginning treatment, it’s critical to discuss any medical history, lifestyle habits, and overall health concerns with your therapist to ensure that biofeedback therapy will be the best option for you.

Ultimately, while biofeedback therapy has shown to be a legitimate form of treatment in some cases, it’s important to understand that the efficacy of this type of therapy varies greatly

Are There Any Side Effects To Biofeedback Therapy?

Biofeedback therapy is generally considered to be a safe and effective treatment option. However, it may cause some side effects in some individuals.

Common side effects of biofeedback therapy include headache, muscle tension, nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, fatigue, and irritability. Some people may also experience emotional distress during or after the therapy sessions.

It is important to note that these side effects are generally mild and temporary, and they will usually subside on their own within a few hours or days. If the side effects become severe or do not dissipate after a few days, it may be best to contact your doctor for further evaluation and advice.

History Of Neurofeedback Therapy

The history of neurofeedback therapy spans more than 50 years. It was first developed in the late 1960s by scientist Joe Kamiya as an experimental form of treatment for epilepsy.

Kamiya developed a device that measured the patient’s brain activity and then used auditory feedback to teach them how to control their own brainwaves.

“Dr. Kamiya found that using a simple reward system people could control their brain waves. He trained people to achieve an alpha state by rewarding them with the sound of a bell. This was the first time real time feedback was given to humans based on their EEG monitoring – the first instance of neurofeedback training. In 1968, Dr. Kamiya published a paper with his findings in Psychology Today.” –

The use of neurofeedback therapy has since grown, with advancements in technology allowing practitioners more precise measurements and more sophisticated feedback systems.

Today, neurofeedback is used to treat a variety of conditions, including ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Neurofeedback therapy works by teaching patients to control their own brainwaves. Brainwave patterns are analyzed using electroencephalography (EEG) technology, which measures electrical activity in the brain.

Through feedback from an EEG system, patients can learn to control their own brainwaves to better manage conditions such as anxiety, stress, and depression. Practitioners may use visual or auditory signals to provide targeted feedback that helps individuals recognize certain patterns in their brainwave activity.

Many studies have demonstrated the efficacy of neurofeedback therapy in treating a variety of conditions. The technique has been particularly effective in the treatment of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For instance, one study found that after 20 sessions of neurofeedback therapy, patients with PTSD had significantly lower levels of anxiety and improved sleep quality. Neurofeedback also appears to be beneficial for individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Neurofeedback can also be used to improve cognitive performance. In one study, participants who underwent neurofeedback showed significant improvements in memory and executive functioning.

Neurofeedback has also been used to treat depression, with one study finding that after 10 sessions of neurofeedback therapy, patients experienced a greater reduction in symptoms than those who received cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Finally, neurofeedback has also been used to improve athletic performance. In one study, athletes who underwent neurofeedback showed significant improvements in reaction time and agility, as well as increased focus and energy.

Neurofeedback is a powerful tool that has the potential to dramatically improve mental health and performance. With more research, it could become an invaluable part of our healthcare system. The future looks bright for neurofeedback therapy!

How Does Neurofeedback Therapy Work?

During neurofeedback sessions, the patient wears special electrodes that measure neurological activity. A computer then records this information and provides mental “exercises” to help the patient learn self-regulation skills such as relaxation, anger management, and stress reduction without having to use any drugs or invasive treatments.

This real time data about the patients physiological functioning can help them become aware of their own mental states, which can then be used to achieve greater control over their emotions and behavior.

The focus of neurofeedback treatment is the central nervous system, and it works to enhance neurological regulation.

Through repetitive training cycles over time, the patient is able to change his/her physiological brain activity to progress towards achieving healthier behaviors.

What Is Neurofeedback Therapy Used For?

Neurofeedback therapy is a form of biofeedback which uses real-time brainwave activity to provide feedback and help people learn to control their own brainwaves. It is used for a variety of different issues, including:

  • Anxiety Disorders – Through the use of EEG monitoring, neurofeedback therapists can identify areas of the brain that are overactive and work to train them to become more balanced.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – By teaching the individual to better regulate their brainwaves, they can work on improving attention and regulating impulsivity.
  • Concussion recovery – Through EEG monitoring, neurofeedback therapists are able to identify areas of the brain that may have been affected by the injury and work to retrain them for improved functioning.
  • Traumatic brain injury – Through EEG monitoring and neurofeedback training, therapists can work on improving the functioning of areas of the brain that have been affected by the injury.
  • Stress management – By teaching the individual to become more aware of their brainwave patterns and make conscious changes, they can learn to better manage their emotions and stay in control during stressful situations.
  • Depression – By targeting specific areas of the brain, neurofeedback therapists are able to help individuals better manage their emotions, improve their mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
  • Sleep disorders – Neurofeedback has been shown to improve the quality of sleep and reduce symptoms such as insomnia, daytime fatigue, and nightmares. By targeting certain areas of the brain, neurofeedback can help individuals regulate their sleep-wake cycle and achieve better, more restful nights of sleep.
  • Headaches – Neurofeedback protocols are tailored to the individual, targeting areas of the brain known to be related to headache pain. By regulating certain areas of the brain, neurofeedback can help individuals reduce their reliance on medication and gain better symptom control.
  • Grief – Neurofeedback can help individuals recognize and regulate their emotional responses, allowing them to learn how to cope better with the pain of loss.
  • Trauma – Neurofeedback protocols can help individuals identify and regulate the body’s stress response, allowing them to process their memories of trauma in a safe and controlled environment.
  • PTSD – Neurofeedback protocols can be used to help individuals regulate their emotional response and gain greater control over their symptoms of PTSD. Neurofeedback has been found to reduce symptoms related to PTSD, including intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, hyperarousal, numb
  • Addiction – Neurofeedback can help individuals suffering from addiction learn how to better regulate their emotions and behaviors, enabling them to gain control over their cravings and ultimately break the cycle of addiction.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – It helps individuals with OCD to gain greater control over their intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, enabling them to reduce their symptoms and lead more manageable lives.
  • Bipolar disorder – Neurofeedback can help patients identify triggers for episodes of mania or depression, as well as recognize patterns in their behavior that may lead to a manic or depressive episode.

With so many applications, neurofeedback can be an invaluable tool for helping individuals with mental health disorders gain a better understanding of their own behavior and learn how to manage it in order to lead healthier and more productive lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling with any type of mental health disorder, consider speaking with your doctor or therapist about the potential benefits of neurofeedback therapy.

Is Neurofeedback Legit?

The short answer is yes, Neurofeedback is a real and legitimate form of mental health treatment. Neurofeedback is based on decades of research and scientific evidence showing its effectiveness in helping people manage problems like depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, sleep issues, and more.

It’s been approved by the FDA as a safe and effective treatment for certain conditions, and is widely used by mental health care professionals.

Does Neurofeedback Rewire Your Brain?

It’s a common belief that the brain is hardwired, that its neural pathways are static and unchanging. But recent research in neuroscience has challenged this assumption. It now appears that the brain can actually be rewired, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity or brain plasticity.

Neurofeedback is one technique that may help to facilitate this rewiring.

There are numerous studies that support its clinical use. In some studies, patients not only felt better after treatment, but imaging technology (i.e. fMRI) showed that the treatment actually changed patients’ brain function and structure.

It then provides real-time feedback so that the patient can learn to control their own brainwaves and gain greater control over mental processes and emotions.

It’s thought that through this process, neurofeedback may be able to help to rewire the brain, bring about changes in consciousness, and produce long-term improvements in mental health.

In addition to neurofeedback, other techniques such as meditation, yoga, and hypnosis have also shown potential for aiding in brain plasticity. By learning to control your own thoughts and reactions to external stimuli, these practices may help to create new neurological pathways that can help reduce anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

Are There Any Side Effects To Neurofeedback Therapy?

A neurofeedback treatment session is a safe and non-invasive treatment that has few to no negative side effects. The most common side effect reported from neurofeedback is fatigue, which usually resolves itself shortly after the session is completed.

Other potential side effects include headaches and mild dizziness, but these symptoms are rare and typically go away quickly. It’s important to note that some people may experience an increase in symptoms or a feeling of being overwhelmed during the training sessions, but this is usually because they are dealing with underlying issues that have not been addressed.

In these cases, it is best to talk to your therapist and adjust the way in which the therapy is conducted so that any potential side effects are minimized.

Neurofeedback therapy is generally considered a safe and effective way to treat mental health issues, and the vast majority of people who undergo it experience no harmful side effects. With that said, it’s important to talk to your therapist about any potential risks before beginning treatment so that you can be fully informed about what to expect.

Is Biofeedback Or Neurofeedback Better For Anxiety?

This is an important question to consider if you’re looking for a way to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Both biofeedback and neurofeedback are non-invasive techniques used to help people with various mental health issues, including anxiety.

Biofeedback uses sensors that are attached to your body in order to monitor physiological responses such as heart rate, breathing rate and skin temperature.

By providing feedback on these physical responses, biofeedback helps to create greater awareness of the body’s internal processes, allowing a person to recognize when they are feeling anxious and take steps to reduce that anxiety.

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback which uses sensors attached to the scalp to measure electrical activity in the brain. This type of therapy can help create a more restful state, reducing symptoms of anxiety through training the brain to be more relaxed and less prone to panicked states.

Both biofeedback and neurofeedback have been found to be effective at treating anxiety-related issues, though there is some debate as to which is better.

As both therapies are non-invasive and have few side effects, it may be down to personal preference as to which approach people find works best for them. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional in order to get the best advice and treatment for your particular needs.

Which One Is Right For You? Biofeedback Or Neurofeedback?

When faced with the decision of whether to choose biofeedback or neurofeedback, there are a few key factors to consider. Both have unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to understand your own requirements and goals before making a choice.

Biofeedback is most effective for psychological conditions such as stress management, while neurofeedback can help regulate seizure activity and focus on job performance.

Depending on your individual needs, either of these approaches could be perfect for helping you reach your goals. Ultimately, the right decision comes down to finding the right solution that works best for you.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, biofeedback and neurofeedback are two powerful tools to help improve well-being, each offering unique advantages.

Biofeedback is convenient, cost-effective, and easy to implement whereas Neurofeedback can be more expensive but allows for more precise targeting of the condition being addressed.

Ultimately, which one works best for you will depend on your own particular needs and preferences. If you think that either biofeedback or neurofeedback could benefit you, it’s essential to approach them with an open mind, with realistic expectations while understanding the potential risks involved.

Whichever form of treatment you choose – know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel!

For more information about our counseling and neurotherapy services, contact us today via email or call us at 404-449-1236.

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Laurie Newcomb, MA, LPC, NCC, CCTP

Licensed Professional Counselor, MA, LPC, NCC, CCTP My goal for each therapy session is to respect the client, allow them to be heard, appreciate where they are coming from, and help guide them through their struggles or issues. My approach to therapy is to utilize an integrative approach with clients. What this means is that I utilize different approaches for different people, as we are not all alike. Whether you're suffering from depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other kind of challenge, you want a therapist you feel comfortable with and who can help you bring about change. I have experience working with substance abuse, anxiety, depression, trauma, and life transitions. I am personally passionate about assisting clients who have endured trauma in their life. I am certified in trauma therapy and continue to work with clients with substance abuse.