Child and Family Counseling Center, San Diego, offices in Del Mar and Encinitas

What is Biofeedback?What is biofeedback?

Biofeedback training involves learning what makes you tense and developing new ways to reduce tension. Use of biofeedback equipment and a computer allow you to “see” and “listen” to your body’s natural abilities to relax and heal. It brings you immediate information about your body, like looking into a mirror or taking your temperature with a thermometer. Another example is a thermostate to regulate room temperature.  

How does biofeedback work?

A biofeedback instrument is connected to the skin in order to listen to a specific body system like breathing, skin temperature, etc. (No needles are involved and no discomfort is caused or experienced). This instrument converts your body information into a sound and/or a line on the computer screen which is “fed” back to you. You can then use this information, much like a mirror, about your body’s systems and processes which people don’t usually notice or thought they could control, such as breathing, muscle tension and sweating. By listening to your body’s processes such as breathing, you learn to control that process and therefore, control the symptom you may be experiencing.  

Biofeedback?How does biofeedback control pain?

Certain disorders such as headaches, asthma, anxiety, side effects of chemotherapy, etc., and the pain associated with these disorders, are closely connected with these body responses, such as breathing and sweating. When a person is in pain, their muscles become tense, which worsens the pain. Learning to reduce muscle tension, therefore, reduces pain. For example, migraine headaches are usually associated with lowered skin temperature. Learning to raise skin temperature reduces headache pain. With the use of biofeedback instruments, you learn how to recognize problematic body changes and how to reverse them before they set off a flare-up of pain. Biofeedback helps you feel better and be in greater CONTROL of your body’s responses, instead of feeling helpless to decrease pain.  

What is the goal of biofeedback?

To learn to reduce tension (i.e., stress, pain, discomfort) in your body; to recognize early warning signs of stress and control it before you really become stressed out and before it controls you. Biofeedback is a skill, and like any skill, practice and knowledge are important for progress. Children who participate in biofeedback training and therapy often achieve significant symptom reduction and are able to reduce or eliminate medications while experiencing a renewed sense of physical and mental well-being. In fact, children report that biofeedback training is fun, relaxing, and an enjoyable experience.  

What types of problems are helped by biofeedback?

It is most helpful for chronic pain associated with headaches, RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy), pain associated with cancer, side effects of chemotherapy (e.g., nausea/vomiting), gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Crohn’s Disease, Reynaud’s Syndrome, symptoms associated with anxiety/panic, asthma, among others. Depending on the nature of the problem, Biofeedback is most helpful when combined with other treatments such as physical therapy (if prescribed), self-hypnosis, counseling, medication (if prescribed), and education.

For further information, please contact Dr. Napoletano at 858-523-1617 or visit