What Conditions Can Biofeedback Help?

Learn more about how EEG neurofeedback can be used to help treat a variety of different health conditions here.

Table of Contents

Understanding Biofeedback

Biofeedback tracks functions of the body and mind during therapy sessions, such as:
  • Heart rate
  • Breathing rate
  • Brain waves
  • Body temperature
  • Sweating

Tracking how the body responds to therapy gives therapists valuable insights into potential anxiety triggers.

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What Happens During Biofeedback?

During biofeedback collection, sensors are attached to the skin to track various bodily functions. Usually, where sensors are attached will depend on the type of biofeedback used. For example, during EEG neurofeedback that measures brain waves, the sensors would be put on your head. On the other hand, during heart rate variability biofeedback, sensors are placed on the chest or wrists to track the heart rate.

What to Expect From Biofeedback Sessions

During therapy sessions, therapists will:
  • Ask you questions
  • Go through different exercises
  • See how you respond to different stimuli
  • Teach relaxation techniques
These steps allow therapists to get to know the root cause of your condition. Therapists can then help teach coping mechanisms for everyday situations that cause distress.

How are Biofeedback and Operant Conditioning Related?

Biofeedback uses positive reinforcement. This is like operant conditioning, which uses consequences to teach good behavior.1
Monitoring things like brain waves shows patients’ progress. It helps reinforce how treatment exercises are beneficial.

Different Types of Biofeedback Therapy

Depending on patient needs, different types of biofeedback therapy may be used. The type of biofeedback will usually depend on the condition being treated. The most common types of biofeedback are:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback: This is also known as EEG neurofeedback. It is a popular treatment method that tracks brain waves. EEG neurofeedback can treat mental health and behavioral disorders like addiction.2
  • Electromyogram (EMG) biofeedback: EMG biofeedback measures how muscles respond to treatment methods. EMG treats conditions like chronic pain, headaches, and recovery of motor function.3  
  • Galvanic skin response training: Skin response measures how sweat glands respond to treatment. This can be used for anxiety or panic disorders that activate sweat glands.
  • Temperature biofeedback: This measures changes in body temperature due to changing variables. Temperature changes can signify mental or emotional distress. Knowing these changes helps treat many conditions.
  • Heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback: HRV biofeedback measures the heart rate during treatment. HRV can be used for several conditions like cardiovascular issues, anxiety, and depression.
  • Respiratory biofeedback: This helps therapists track the breath rate during treatment. Respiratory biofeedback uses breathing techniques to calm the mind and body.

What Conditions Can Biofeedback Help?

Biofeedback can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Common conditions that can benefit from biofeedback are:
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Asthma
  • Pain
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Urinary incontinence

What Can You Expect from a Biofeedback Therapy Session?

If you are going into your first biofeedback session, you may be curious about what to expect. During the initial session, your therapist will spend time getting to know you and learning about your goals.
After the first session, regular sessions will usually consist of the following activities:
  • Questions about your life and struggles
  • Activities to integrate different variables into the treatment process
  • Tracking the body or mind’s response, such as brain waves in EEG neurofeedback
  • Teaching coping mechanisms based on data revealed
  • Going through exercises to relax the body and mind
  • Tests to track your progress
Each of these aspects will benefit the progress you make while receiving treatment.

Are There Any Risks to Biofeedback Therapy?

Since biofeedback is non-invasive, it has little to no risk during treatment. The main concern would be for people with heart rhythm problems that could make certain types of biofeedback less effective.4

Does Biofeedback Therapy Help with Substance Use Disorders?

Biofeedback therapy can be beneficial for substance use disorders. EEG neurofeedback is often a good option during substance abuse treatment.

How Does Biofeedback Therapy Help with Substance Use Disorders?

How Does Biofeedback Therapy Help with Substance Use Disorders? Substance abuse involves negative behavioral patterns that cause addiction to occur. Using reinforcement techniques through biofeedback can help encourage positive behavioral patterns.

Identifying the triggers that could make a person more likely to relapse is important. EEG neurofeedback can track brain activity that signals triggers. Therapists can then provide coping mechanisms to calm the mind during stressful moments.

How Effective is Biofeedback Therapy?

Studies have shown that biofeedback is effective in treating many different conditions. After receiving biofeedback treatment, patients usually report significant improvements. It’s approved for treating conditions like mental health, addiction, and chronic pain.5

How Long Does Biofeedback Therapy Last?

A typical biofeedback session will last between thirty and sixty minutes. The total length of the treatment program will depend on the individual and their condition. Treatment programs usually last between eight to twenty sessions.

EEG Neurofeedback

Biofeedback Therapy to Help Chronic Pain

Studies have shown that biofeedback therapy can benefit those who struggle with chronic pain in the short and long term. Biofeedback for chronic pain can be combined with other treatment methods or be conducted as a stand-alone treatment option.6

How Can Biofeedback Treat Chronic Pain?

EMG biofeedback is the most common type of biofeedback therapy for chronic pain. EMG biofeedback records how the muscles respond to different stimuli. Knowing how the muscles respond can help treatment professionals find the cause of pain and treat it effectively. Exercises that improve posture, motor control, and daily habits will be used during treatment.

Can Biofeedback Therapy Be Combined with Other Treatment Options?

Biofeedback can be combined with other treatment options. Combining EEG neurofeedback with other treatments will improve results for mental health and addiction.


Psychotherapy is a common treatment method for substance abuse and mental health. EEG neurofeedback can benefit a traditional psychotherapy program by gaining more insight into how brain waves respond to different variables.

Medication Management

Biofeedback can also help with medication management by giving more data to recommend proper dosages. Using biofeedback treatment may also help reduce the dosages of medication needed over time.


EEG neurofeedback is commonly used in combination with meditation and other mindfulness activities. Monitoring brain waves through EEG neurofeedback reinforces the positive effects that meditation and mindfulness can have.

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