Heart Rate Variability Training (HRV) using coherent breathing: Is one of the frequently utilized and effective treatments for a variety of psychological and biophysical problems: Attentional (ADD and ADHD), anxiety, depression, headaches, high blood pressure among them.
At SMC we combine HRV treatment with almost every other modality, and find that it enhances body/mind improvement. In 2002 Dr. Stephen Larsen went to the HeartMath® Institute in Boulder Creek, CA, and was trained and certified as a 1 on 1 provider in the method, one of the pioneering methods in HRV training. Dr. Larsen has also trained with Stephen Eliot and Dr. Richard Brown in their coherent breathing approaches. HRV training balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system, and helps the cardiovascular “tree” to remain relaxed and flexible.
Temperature Training, first developed at the Menninger Foundation by Elmer and Alyce Green for Migraine Headaches and Raynaud’s Syndrome, is routinely built into most of our treatment protocols as a measure of cardiovascular health. (When we are under stress, our hands and feet, extremities, tend to be cold. As people feel more relaxed, or calmly energized, their extremities warm up.) (One recent patient whose hands were 67o F at the start of a session had already been treated by another neurofeedback practitioner, who hadn’t looked at the hand temperature. After HPN, Havening, breathing and some gentle photonic treatment, his hands were 97 o F.) At the end of the session he looked at us with some astonishment, and said: “You thawed me out!”. The course of treatment was much more successful than the previous one.
GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) or EDR (Electrodermal Response) are two names for the same thing. This is probably the first biofeedback modality developed and used in the 20th Century. (See Dr. Stephen Larsen’s powerpoint on C.G. Jung and the Word Association experiments, and the development of biofeedback—under lectures and powerpoint presentations on this website.) GSR is at the heart of the lie-detector or polygraph, and uses the skin conductivity as a direct measure of limbic and autonomically mediated emotion.
HEG or Hemoencephalography: It is an interesting question whether HEG belongs in the realm of biofeedback—since it’s action is blood-flow—or neurofeedback, since it seeks to influence the brain. Both are in fact true. The type of HEG practiced at Stone Mountain is the NIR of Dr. Jeffrey Carmen, a New York State Psychologist (not the PIR of Herschel Toomim, a great and pioneering contributor to biofeedback who passed away a couple of years ago in his ninetees. This type of treatment is known for clinical efficacy with two syndromes: ADD and ADHD, because it enlists the attentional and executive powers of the frontal lobes, and Migraine headaches (because it works with blood flow).
EMG or ElectroMyography: This was a specialty area of Dr. Larsen’s when he first began to practice biofeedback in the 1970’s. Our muscle tension is a dynamic presence, influential everywhere in the body. Muscles emit measurable action potentials—in fact EEG seeks actively to eliminate the omnipresent EMG signals—usually mistaken for high-frequency EEG (Beta and Hi-Beta). When muscles relax, tension dissipates, blood pressure lowers, pain signals diminish in the brain. Often as muscles relax, memories of the tension-inducing experiences are recovered and sometimes, resolved—just as in Rolfing or Bioenergetics. EMG can be enormously helpful for muscle spasticity and the pain of fibromyalgia.
Interactive Metronome, or IM training: Is a method developed by James Cassily for helping musicians refine their skills in timing. It turns out that it has many more applications, including ADD, auditory and sensory integration problems. (IM training may take longer than other methods, and requires sustained effort by the trainee.)
N.B. Although these biofeedback modalities are often referred (or dismissed) as “peripheral biofeedback,” in fact we are connected throughout, and signals move up and down through the neural tree. No account of what goes on in the brain can exclude the somatosensory signals from the body.