Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people can balance their nervous system by using signals from their own bodies. Clinical biofeedback techniques have grown out of early laboratory procedures used to train research subjects to alter brain activity, blood pressure, heart rate, and other body functions that normally were considered involuntarily. Physical therapists have used biofeedback to help stroke victims regain movement in paralyzed muscles.
Psychologists often use biofeedback to help tense and anxious clients learn how to relax. Clients learn by watching monitoring instruments attached to their body that record changes in their physiology. Initially, these monitoring devices are used to measure subtle body changes and make them apparent to the client, who begins to learn how to better control these responses. Moreover, neurofeedback which is a form of biofeedback is used to help train clients to shift their states of awareness (brainwave activity). Eventually, the client attains better self-regulation without the aid of these devices.
Chances are you have used biofeedback yourself. If you have ever used a thermometer or stepped onto a scale, you are using a simple kind of biofeedback. Research has demonstrated that biofeedback can help in the treatment of many conditions, especially anxiety or stress-related conditions. We now know that we have more control over so-called involuntary body functions and states of consciousness than we ever thought possible. Clients learn quickly how powerfully their thoughts, memories, feelings and even breathing can be to shift patterns within their body physiology.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (E.M.D.R.), developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., integrates elements of many effective psychotherapies in protocols that are designed to maximize treatment effects. Dr. Bruno was directly trained by Dr. Shapiro in both E.M.D.R. basic and advanced certifications. E.M.D.R. is an information-processing therapy and uses an eight-phase approach along with bilateral sensory stimulation that fosters dual awareness. Dual awareness creates a heightened experience of being an observer, while participating in the flow of one’s experience.
According to E.M.D.R. theory, all people draw upon a physiologically based information processing system. This system can be compared to other body systems, such as digestion in which the body extracts nutrients for health and survival. Our ability to digest and grow from our experiences, that are stored as memories, is essential to healthy functioning. Memories are linked together into networks that contain related thoughts/beliefs, visual images, emotions/feelings and physical sensations. Learning occurs when new memories or associations are formed or re-arranged within our memory network.
When a traumatic or negative event occurs, information processing often remains incomplete; is shut-down, automatically loops or becomes fragmented. Likened to a tumor the distressful experience gets walled off. This prevents the forging of new connections with more adaptive information that may exist in other memory networks. For example, a sexual abuse survivor may “know” their abuser is chiefly responsible, but this knowledge might not alleviate a feeling they are somehow at fault. The memory of their trauma is stored in a raw, unprocessed, state isolated or disconnected from their inner strength, self-worth or innocence.
When the individual thinks about the trauma or when that memory is triggered, the person may relive all the strong emotions, negative thoughts, and physical sensations yet again. A severe example is posttraumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.) where intrusive thoughts, sensory impressions, and emotional disturbances are easily triggered, and the person may momentarily lose connection with a stable sense of self, location, and time.
Not only major distressful events or “large-Traumas” cause psychological disturbances. Sometimes even less distressful events from childhood, such as being teased by one’s peers or disparaged by a parent, may not be adequately processed. Such “small-traumas” when repeated often enough contribute to later personality issues or unhealthy emotional habits or reactions.
E.M.D.R. helps to alleviate clinical problems by first bringing to awareness, then processing and finally reconsolidating the various distressful memories, feelings, sensations or beliefs. Even nightmares or phobias can be treated. Fortunately, not every difficult or traumatic memory needs to be treated. Memories group into larger networks and a change in one significant memory can often have a positive impact on the entire network.
Successful information processing occurs when the targeted distress becomes linked with more adaptive or resourceful neural-networks of information. The goal of successful E.M.D.R. treatment is to build positive inner resources; to safely access and to positively update dysfunctional memories and beliefs; to reconsolidate these memories and to build healthier, well connected, brain networks, which support further inner growth and resilience.
Emotional Transformation Therapy
Emotional Transformation Therapy (E.T.T.), is novel therapeutic method that combines psychotherapy with the specific use of color light wavelengths, and eye movements to rapidly transform emotional distress, traumatic memories or physical pain for symptom relief and longer-term well-being. Only licensed health professionals, with mental health training, are eligible to be trained in this relatively new and highly original type of psychotherapy.
E.T.T. was first developed by psychotherapist Dr. Stephen Vazquez in 1991. Dr. Vazquez’s studies in the fields of psychotherapy, somatic body work, optometry, neurobiology, and attachment theory influenced the development of E.T.T. This noninvasive, non-pharmaceutical approach combines traditional psychotherapy with targeted brain stimulation using colored light and eye movements, to rapidly reduce emotional and physical distress. Dr. Bruno has trained directly with Dr. Vazquez over the past twenty years. Dr. Bruno completed all levels of E.T.T. training and has developed an original “optic-thalamic” theory to better explain how E.T.T. might work.
E.T.T. aims to help client’s move swiftly from a difficult emotional state into a more positive emotional state—through the attunement of chromatic light wavelengths, eye movements, and interpersonal psychotherapy, administered with specially designed visual tools. Like E.M.D.R. distressful experiences are modified and then integrated into more adaptive patterns of thought, feelings and behaviors.
During E.T.T., psychotherapy techniques are used to engage the person in conversation. By receiving light therapy along with a more traditional talk therapy, the client’s depth of awareness is increased, emotions are resolved, and treatment results often occur faster than talk therapy.
Light therapy has been proven to be an effective treatment useful for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other forms of depression. Yet, E.T.T. expands the range of potential therapeutic applications.
E.T.T. may be useful in the treatment of several psychological and somatic conditions, such as:
Dr. Vazquez has conducted several research studies and thousands of clients have reported benefits from E.T.T. Yet, this novel approach to psychotherapy must still be considered experimental – not yet scientifically proven. Neither are most forms of psychotherapy considered to be scientifically well-proven.
Published Books (available on Amazon):
Fellegvari, I. (2014) Slow Down I'm Getting Well Too Fast: Emotional Transformation Therapy.
Vazquez, S.R. (2012). Emotional Transformation Therapy: An Interactive Ecological Psychotherapy. Jason Aronson, Publ.
Vazquez, S.R.(2013). Accelerated Ecological Psychotherapy: ETT Applications for Sleep Disorders, Pain, and Addiction. Jason Aronson, Publ.
Vazquez, S.R.(2016). Spiritually Transformative Psychotherapy: Repairing Spiritual Damage and Facilitating Extreme Wellbeing. Jason Aronson, Publ.