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Heart Rate Variability

Biofeedback is a specialty area in the field of psychology that teaches residents how to increase their physiological and psychological awareness. Individuals learn how to manage their physiological reactions to stressful events and improve coping skills for Relapse Prevention.

In a biofeedback session the resident is connected to sensors that measure different aspects of physiological activity such as respiration, heart rate, muscle tension and skin conductance. Participants see their physiological activity on a computer screen and recognize how their physiology changes depending on thoughts, emotions and behaviors. This feedback helps them to understand the impact of the mind/body connection.

AToN Center specifically focuses on Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback, a modality used to help individuals retrain the autonomic nervous system, most commonly known as the “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” systems, and gain autonomic balance. This balance allows the body to optimally manage stressful events and regulate difficult emotions. This modality is also used as an adjunct to assist in treating depression, anxiety, asthma, high blood pressure, migraine and unexplained abdominal pain.

Many of AToN Center’s residents incorporate HRV Biofeedback into their treatment plan to increase their sense of well-being. HRV Biofeedback can also be an essential Relapse Prevention tool and can assist residents in building their feelings of self-efficacy in managing life’s stressors. Research is beginning to emerge that suggests that HRV Biofeedback may also reduce cravings if incorporated into daily life. Residents who participate in HRV Biofeedback are loaned their own portable devices to continue their own daily practice while at AToN. Many residents report utilizing the techniques learned in HRV Biofeedback training as an important part of their coping skill set.