Discover How Biofeedback Works

To understand how biofeedback works, let's first look at learning and how we learn.


Life is all about learning. And learning requires feedback. We rely on feedback to improve our skills and reach our goals. If we are cooking, we get feedback through tasting the food, if we are learning to play the piano, we get feedback from hearing our work, if we are learning to shoot the perfect goal, we get visual feedback whether it was a hit or miss.

Biofeedback has three stages:

  1. Measuring the physiological function.
  2. Converting the measurement into something meaningful.
  3. Feeding back the information.

Learning and feedback go together. What is biofeedback then? And how biofeedback works?

Biofeedback is simply feedback (or information) about your biological functions. It works by detecting small changes in your body and providing you with visual information of these changes - the information is "fed back" to you. When you see this information, you can then go through a "trial and error" strategy where you learn to control your biological response.


How Biofeedback Works:

how biofeedback works
  1. Depending on which biofeedback technique your therapist uses, a measurement of a certain biological function is made. The most common measurements are: skin temperature, muscle tension, brainwave activity, and sweat gland activity.
  2. This measurement is converted into meaningful information through a biofeedback device (the particular biofeedback device depends on what biofeedback technique your therapist uses), and fed into a monitor or a sound system.
  3. You receive this feedback and a learning process starts. You slowly begin to put together feelings in your body with the information that is provided to you. With that knowledge, through many repetitions, you learn to control you physiology.

Biofeedback for Healing:

Biofeedback has been scientifically proven to be effective in treating migraines, tension headaches, incontinence, insomnia, ADHD, anxiety, asthma, pain, hypertension, Raynaud's syndrome, myofascial pain, and TMJ.

When you understand how biofeedback works, you understand that it is a powerful self-healing tool. Biofeedback teaches you how to communicate with your body. It is a great tool for increasing your self-awareness and confidence in accepting self-responsibility for your well-being. It allows you to become aware of subtle warning signs in your body and take control of your health.


Safety of Biofeedback

Biofeedback is not physically intrusive. There are no needles, skin is not broken, and there are no chemical substances entering the body. In essence how biofeedback works is by retraining physiology to come closer to the normal physiological state.

Nevertheless, as with any other relaxation technique, biofeedback may increase awareness of long held painful emotions which may come to the surface and cause distress. For some people quieting down and going inward may be frightening and may cause some anxiety. Experts say that these feelings are usually temporary.

To learn more about how biofeedback works, learn about the history of biofeedback.

Biofeedback is a powerful tool for relaxation training. Other great relaxation techniques are:

Visualization Relaxation
10 Ways to Relieve Stress
Diaphragmatic Breathing
Progressive Relaxation




Return from How Biofeedback Works to Stress Relief Tools


Words of Wisdom

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.
~Sydney J. Harris

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
~Chinese Proverb

There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
~Henry Kissinger

Humor, a great stress reliever!
Laugh, be happy and have less stress!
~Catherine Pulsifer




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