The use of biofeedback in clinical settings has increased dramatically over the past three decades. At the same time, however, research regarding the underlying mechanisms and effectiveness of this approach lags behind its application. Moreover, results regarding its effectiveness have historically been inconsistent at best, depending on the type of biofeedback examined and the area to which it is applied.
It is important that scientist-practitioners continue to empirically examine the utility of biofeedback. This includes not only determining whether it is indeed effective for the myriad of applications for which it has been proposed, but also examining models that forward our understanding of how it works across different applications. It is proposed that different mechanisms may be operating depending on whether biofeedback is used as a primary or secondary intervention. Thus, models for understanding the mechanisms by which it exerts its effects may need to be altered accordingly. Training programs play a critical role in not only continuing to investigate the empirical merits of biofeedback, but also in training clinicians to provide biofeedback to persons across the developmental spectrum.
At the same time, there are areas where biofeedback has been shown to be a promising intervention within the context of a broader cognitive-behavioral treatment approach. As clinicians continue to use biofeedback it is important to stay abreast of the empirical findings and integrate them into clinical practice. Education of clients as well as referral sources will assist in ensuring biofeedback is applied in a helpful manner in the context of cognitive-behavioral treatment with patients who can most benefit.
See also: Clinical health psychology
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