Managing Stress Through Biofeedback

Ellie Wolf, MS, BCB


Biofeedback uses monitoring devices applied gently to the skin-called surface sensors-to detect specific physiological functions. This non-invasive, never-painful technique enables the therapist and patient to sit together and monitor the results in real-time.


At the Raby Institute, we give particular focus to the classic and often hidden indicators of prolonged or inordinate stress. Known as "sympathetic overload," these signs frequently result in a condition labeled adrenal stress syndrome.


Poorly managed stress can result in many common conditions, including:

• Headaches

• Fibromyalgia

• Hypertension

• Diabetes

• Depression and Anxiety

• Addictive behaviors

• Gastrointestinal disorders

• Post-traumatic stress disorder

• Cardiac conditions

• Arthritis

• Cancer


To help resolve or prevent these issues, each patient works closely with the Biofeedback Therapist, using easily understandable report screens during their sessions together. The computer software analyzes many physiological functions tied to stress, such as:


• BVP/HRV: blood volume pulse wave and heart rate variability (an important value of heart rate, widely recognized as a primary indicator of physical and emotional health)

• TBK: Surface extremity skin temperature reveals stress response

• RBK: Respiration rate, rhythm, mechanics, and quality of respiration

• EMG: electromyography, also known as muscle tension level

• EEG: electro-encephalography, commonly known as brain waves

• GSR: Galvanic Skin Response or Skin Conductance, commonly referred to as sweating-a classic evidence-based stress indicator.


Patients learn stress-reducing techniques, such as specialized breathing, to use concurrently with biofeedback. Upon viewing the results of their efforts in real-time during the session, the person sees how these techniques reduce their stress markers.


The techniques do this by activating the parasympathetic nervous system to re-balance the sympathetic overload response, and thus re-regulate the body's involuntary control system. Most patients report feeling better after the very first session.


The skills and techniques that patients learn are life-long tools for maintaining recovery, and effective self-management during times of high stress that we all experience. One of the ultimate outcomes is strengthening the immune system, which improves and maintains balanced, overall health.


Live better, not just longer.


Successful treatment requires patient participation through daily home practice, combined with subsequent and progressive treatment sessions. Average program length: 6-10 sessions.


Schedule an appointment today to help yourself keep the stress of the holidays under control. Call the Raby Institute at 312.276.1212.


"Dr. Raby is warm, competent, very human and very passionate. She stands behind her word and is accountable and reliable."
- Raby Institute patient