Biofeedback and Self-Regulation

for Domestic Abuse Survivors

Control is the central theme of intimate partner violence. Both during and after the abusive relationship, domestic abuse survivors seek to sort out the unfinished business and unresolved issues around control.

In my work with domestic violence survivors, I have found that when I give them a regimen that assists them in cultivating internal control, they thrive. And they heal.

For example, when a domestic abuse survivor begins to learn how to regulate their autonomic nervous system, they feel replenished and utterly empowered by the fact that they are able to control their internal physiology.

Symptoms reduce, anxiety is regulated, depression is lifted, insomnia curbed, panic attacks mitigated, chronic pain significantly reduced, irritable bowl syndrome and hypertension are also reduced...

While the symptom reduction is extremely beneficial to the survivor, the psychological emotional effects of the ability to regulate one’s internal physiology takes them miles into recovery...into healing the effects of having been and/or being in a controlling, abusive relationship.

Patients have told me that for the first time since the abusive relationship began, they feel as though they now own their own bodies. They know where the "on" switch is and where the "off" switch is, and they know how to actually turn it "on" and turn it "off."

That is, they know how to lower autonomic arousal of the stress response at will. They are in the driver's seat and have found the wheel. And once they hold this wheel, they don't want to let it go. Empowerment is now in the tissue and giving it up is unheard of.

I can hear in their voices less generalized vulnerability
...greater command from the inside out.

While biofeedback and self-regulation are certainly not a panacea; this training provides an experiential learning step essential to healing while in and after an abusive relationship.

If you are in an abusive relationship, or recently ended one, consider self-regulation training as a way of catapulting yourself back into health and well-being.

The Biofeedback and Stress Reduction Program was developed by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D., and has been conducted in hospitals with thousands of patients for the treatment of pain, stress and illness. The intervention is tailored to the needs of each patient.

The treatment has helped to reduce or eliminate symptoms in the following conditions:

stress-related disorders, such as migraine and muscle contraction headaches, hypertension, bronchial asthma, Raynaud's disease, ulcers, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome

pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia, facial pain, TMJ, cervical and low back pain, chronic pelvic pain, arthritis and varied joint conditions

anxiety and panic disorders, such as generalized anxiety, agoraphobia, simple and social phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome

lifestyle problems, such as insomnia, chronic daytime fatigue, excessive tension and cognitive impairment syndrome

Often these conditions stem from hereditary and constitutional factors, or are the result of an accident or disease. They can be precipitated or exacerbated by the stress that we accumulate, contributing to our declining health and well-being. The physical and emotional symptoms appear and then persist, and begin to define our lives and limit our possibilities. It is our bodies' indication to us that change is essential.

Traditionally, we believe that the cure comes from the outside: the right medication; a new spouse; a difference job. Dr. King has over 25 years of experience to suggest that the cure can come from within.

Patients receive this interweaving of clinical psychology with psychophysiology, or mind-body medicine, in three stages.

  1. The first is a personal assessment that explores a patient's specific stress reaction.
  2. During the second, or instructional phase, the patient learns a full array of pain and/or stress reduction procedures including biofeedback and meditation. This phase is both experiential and didactic, and the patient begins to establish a daily practice of self-regulation.
  3. The third phase is called integration. This is where the techniques patients have learned are incorporated into the particulars of their own lives.

Principles of clinical psychology are used to overcome resistance to change and prevent the sabotaging of one’s goals. As psychological issues arise during the training, individual psychotherapy is provided.

These sessions serve to promote insight into the origins of one's personal issues and the progressive movement toward resolution. In addition, patients receive individual coaching until they understand their program so well that they can apply it anywhere at any time.

The evaluation of patients' success is twofold. Success is first gauged by the patients themselves in a post-treatment questionnaire, and then measured employing commonly used testing instruments in behavioral medicine, providing a comprehensive profile of progress.

Patients return for one, three, six, nine and twelve month follow-up sessions to ensure that their symptoms remain in check. Advanced training is also available

Biofeedback and Stress Reduction Program
Results and Benefits

Symptom Reduction/Resolution

reduced or relieved pain
reduced or resolved functional stress disorders
decreased anxiety and tension
controlled or eliminated panic attacks

Physical Functioning

improved sleep
less reliance on relaxing agents
greater resistance to illness
decreased fatigue
increased energy, vitality and stamina

Mental Functioning

improved ability to concentrate
enhanced clarity of thought
increased creativity
more optimistic perspective

Emotional Comfort

increased self-confidence
greater self-esteem
enhanced sense of well-being
increased calmness
decreased irritability

Social Interactions

reduced hostility
greater ease and comfort in social situations
improved communication

Behavior and Performance

more organized
increased efficiency
greater productivity
enhanced effectiveness

Results Chart

Scale Description Pre-test
Change %
t value p value
SOM Somatization 1.0588 0.3025 0.7563 71% 4.44 0.003
O-C Obsessive-Compulsive 1.1875 0.3375 0.8500 72% 8.21 <0.001
INT Interpersonal Sensitivity 0.7900 0.2475 0.5425 69% 3.92 0.006
DEP Depression 1.2488 0.2900 0.9588 77% 5.60 0.001
ANX Anxiety 1.2375 0.2625 0.9750 79% 5.17 0.001
HOS Hostility 0.7913 0.1263 0.6650 84% 3.80 0.007
PHO Phobic Anxiety 0.4988 0.0538 0.4450 89% 2.50 0.041
PAR Paranoid Ideation 0.6663 0.2275 0.4388 66% 2.54 0.038
PSY Psychoticism 0.3000 0.0875 0.2125 71% 3.07 0.018
GSI Globle Severity Index 0.9250 0.2400 0.6850 74% 7.45 <0.001
PST Positive Symptom Total 45.2500 19.7500 25.5000 56% 9.61 <0.001
Pre & Post test results on SCL-90-R of participants in
the Biofeedback and Stress Reduction Program over 10 weeks.
(SCL-90-R Sympton Check List, Leonard Derogatis)

What Patients Are Saying
A Personal View

"I don't feel like a bomb ready to blow anymore. I'm much more optimistic, less vulnerable, and my long history of insomnia is over." Physician

"My blood pressure has gone from 182/105 to 140/86. I'm less reactive, especially to irritations, and when I do get upset, it's far more short-lived." Psychologist

"The training gave me confidence in being able to control panic, rather than it controlling me. Flying used to be virtually impossible for me, and now it's uneventfu1." Marketing Consultant

"My daily headaches, which lasted anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, have all but disappeared. I am on a more even keel...calmer, less irritable, and more easy going." Sales Representative

"I no longer wake up with my jaw aching, and I'm more rested in the morning." Corporate Executive

"The training gives me a very valuable tool insofar as controlling stress is concerned. I feel I don't have to be a victim of stress and its physical manifestations." Sales Manager

"I can think more clearly. I'm definitely calmer, less agitated, and have more energy." Attorney

"After many months of diarrhea that was interfering with my life, I rarely have it anymore. When I'm upset or nervous, I can relax and feel calm." Director

"My neck pain is gone. I'm motivated once again, more organized and getting much more accomplished." Collection Manager

"I feel better and I'm better at handling my daily work load. I'm happier ... and people have been noticing the change. I feel I'm in control of my world." Business Executive

To begin the Biofeedback and Stress Reduction Program or to inquire further as to the appropriateness of this intervention for you, contact us to reserve a consultation.

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