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Active vs. Passive EMG Biofeedback Training

22 January 2010BIOFEEDBACK MATTERS
– a BioFeedBack Resources International email newsletter –
written & edited by Harry L. Campbell, President
technical editing and production by Edwin Johnson
 

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Inside this issue:

  1. Active vs. Passive EMG Biofeedback Training – by Harry Campbell
  2. Event Calendar

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I. Active vs. Passive EMG Biofeedback Training – by Harry Campbell
Are you hooking clients up to an EMG biofeedback instrument and just instructing them to passively relax while they listen to a relaxation CD or are you really training them?

Have you ever wondered why a client’s EMG levels are normal or below even if they report pain or tension symptoms?

Many people are able to relax their muscles when they are in a relaxed environment or when they are not in the middle of a stressful situation. A client may work or live in a very stressful environment. They may be holding excess tension in their muscles while they are in that environment without being aware of it. When they come to your office they may automatically feel more relaxed than when they are at work or home. You probably have gone through much effort to design your therapy space so that it helps your clients feel relaxed. Many practitioners think of everything from wall colors, windows, paintings or pictures, furniture type and placement, lighting, music, and even aromas. It is no surprise that the client’s muscle tension level would be low by the time they are hooked up to your EMG while sitting in your comfortable chair being talked to in a relaxing tone by you. What do you expect? There are of course some clients who will still show elevated muscle tension levels even with all that you do to set up a relaxing experience. It is obvious that you need to help them to get to a relaxed state in your artificially created environment before you can go further with them.

There is real value in helping the client experience what relaxation is. This is where many practitioners stop. Even after the client has reached relaxed EMG levels they just continue to have the person simply relax for the duration of the session. The payoff for the client doing this is limited. Once they know what it feels like for their muscles to be relaxed you should start teaching them what it feels like as their muscles go from a relaxed state to a tense state. The muscles can be very relaxed, mildly tense, moderately tense, or radically tense. It is your job using EMG biofeedback to teach them to be able to sense the different levels.

Here is a simple exercise you can use once a client can keep their muscles relaxed to normal or below levels consistently.

  1. Instruct the client to stay below a threshold that you set of 3 microvolts for 5 minutes. Set your threshold so that a sound comes on if they go above the threshold. There should be quiet as long as they stay below the threshold.
  2. Move the threshold to 5 microvolts. Instruct the client to tense the muscle to the 5 microvolt threshold. Instruct them to keep the muscle tension at 5, not lower and not higher for 10 seconds. Have them release the tension and relax the muscle for 20 seconds. Repeat this 3 times.
  3. Have the client relax for 2 minutes.
  4. Move the threshold to 10 microvolts. Repeat steps 2 and 3 at 10 microvolts.
  5. Move the threshold to 20 microvolts. Repeat steps 2 and 3 at 20 microvolts.

During this exercise you are looking for several things:

Can the client tense to and hold the level of tension you ask for without wavering much above or below?

Does the muscle really release with the EMG level going back to the relaxed baseline when you instruct them to relax?

Can they sense the difference of how the muscle feels relative to what they are seeing on the EMG screen?

Once they have mastered this you can ask them to repeat it without feedback. You watch the screen while they follow your instructions without feedback. Review the session graphs with them after the session so they can see how closely they were able to follow your instructions without feedback. If they can do this then they should do well in the real world. They should be able to notice when they are beginning to tense their muscles and release the excess tension before it has a chance to produce symptoms.

This type of exercise also keeps the client busy so that they don’t have the feeling that nothing is going on or they aren’t doing anything. They will be more involved and get better results.

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II. Event Calendar
It’s a new year. If you are reading this you have survived what has been a difficult year for many. We hope to assist you in having a productive, healthy and prosperous 2010. This year is shaping up to be a very busy one. We plan to be very active this year. Here is a list of what we have in store so far.

January 30, 2010
Introduction to Neurofeedback Seminar

Presented by Mary Jo Sabo, Ph.D., President of Biofeedback Consultants Inc., Organizer and Administrator of Biofeedback/Neurofeedback programs at Yonkers Public Schools, Administrator of American Institute of Biofeedback Technologies, New York area.

Contact Biofeedback Resources International at 877-669-6463 or 914-762-4646.
Email: info@biofeedbackinternational.com
Website: http://www.biofeedbackinternational.com/seminars.htm

March 10-13, 2010
SEPA – Southeastern Psychological Association Annual Convention
Chattanooga, TN

Harry L. Campbell will be exhibiting biofeedback equipment and talking about training opportunities.

Contact Harry to schedule a meeting at convention.
Phone: 877-669-6463 or 914-762-4646
Email: Harry@biofeedbackinternational.com

Contact SEPA to register to attend the convention.
Phone: 850-474-2070
Email: sepa@uwf.edu

March 24, 2010
WS01 Biofeedback Equipment Workshop – Practical Skills

You should register for this course if you need to learn how to work with your biofeedback equipment.

Presented by Harry L. Campbell at the AAPB, Association for Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback Annual Convention in San Diego, CA.

Contact AAPB to register.
Phone: 800-477-8892 or 303-422-8436
Website: http://www.aapb.org

April 10-14, 2010
Professional BCIA 5-Day Certification Training

This program meets the BCIA 48 hour didactic training requirement and includes lab time working with the biofeeedback equipment.

For details visit http://www.biofeedbackinternational.com/seminars.htm or call 877-669-6463 / 914-762-4646.

April 16-18, 2010
New York Mental Health Counselors Association Annual Convention

Harry L. Campbell will be presenting on adding biofeedback services to your practice.

Contact Harry to schedule a meeting at convention.
Phone: 877-669-6463 or 914-762-4646
Email: Harry@biofeedbackinternational.com

Contact NYMHCA to register for the convention.
Phone: 800-469-6422
Email: NYMHCA2@optonline.net
Website: http://www.nymhca.org

April 30-May 3, 2010
Professional BCIA 4-Day Neurofeedback Training

This program meets the BCIA 36 hour didactic training requirement and includes lab time working with the neurofeeedback equipment.

For details visit http://www.biofeedbackinternational.com/seminars.htm or call 877-669-6463 / 914-762-4646.

May 21-23, 2010
NYSPA – New York Psychological Association Annual Convention

Harry L. Campbell will be exhibiting biofeedback equipment and talking about training opportunities.

Contact Harry to schedule a meeting at convention.
Phone: 877-669-6463 or 914-762-4646
Email: Harry@biofeedbackinternational.com

Contact NYSPA to register to attend the convention.
Phone: 800-732-3933
Website: http://www.nyspa.org

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