How Emory University Counseling and Psychological Services’ Dana Wyner uses biofeedback

We are often asked by counselors in counseling programs how they can incorporate biofeedback in to their counseling programs.  Helping students cope with stress and offering an avenue for counseling services is a very valuable commodity to any university and its student body. Dr Wyner and Emory University have an excellent counseling program at Emory and asked her Emorys’ model This is from the desk of Dr Wyner:

This is the core of the letter that I send to counseling center psychologists who ask me how we run our program…

We use Thought Technology’s Procomp Infiniti systems. We have a lab with 6 machines. They are pretty sophisticated systems that do require training to use. Brian Milstead at Bio-Medical (brian@bio-medical.com) has been great to work with. We’ve bought most of our equipment directly through him. Bio-Medical’s customer support is excellent (http://www.bio-medical.com/).

We also have HeartMath, which is a program that allows students to train on regulating heart rate variability (a correlate of stress/relaxation). The format is a bit more game-like in nature and it is easy to operate. Students really seem to like it a lot. It usually goes for $200-$250 and there is a cool driving game (Dual Drive) that can be used in conjunction with the program ($150) in which students can compete against one another (up to 4 on computers that are on the same network).

Wild Divine (Deepak Chopra) has a series of biofeedback games that are also easy to operate (designed for home use). We have the program but I admit I have not used it very much. I think some students do fine with its very new age feel. Others do not seem to relate to it very well. We only have the first version (about 6 years old) so maybe the newer ones are better.

We have developed a stress management program which provides the context for putting the equipment to use. We offer psychoeducational + biofeedback classes (90 min.) at various times throughout the week. Students choose a time that will work well for them and they continue in the class for 6 consecutive weeks. We have a number of modules that we teach, most of which are strongly based in mindfulness approaches, cognitive-behavioral strategies, and the application of positive psychology principles. Specific modules include, The Stress Equation and Increasing Resources (based on the idea that stress = demands > coping), Mindfulness, Handling Stress in the Moment, Helpful Ways of Thinking, The Happiness Factor, Assertiveness and Limit Setting, Time Management, Compassion, and Decision Making. Typically, biofeedback happens during the second part of the class and the relaxation exercises that are practiced tie into the topic of the day. In addition to the classes, we have some open practice hours, where up to 6 students at once can register for additional time in the lab practicing under the supervision of someone trained in biofeedback.

Dana Wyner, Ph.D.
Staff Psychologist, Coordinator of Biofeedback and Stress Management Services
Emory University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
1462 Clifton Road, Suite 235
Atlanta, GA 30322

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