Biofeedback provides a tool to move through trauma, life disruption

After a traumatic lower leg injury at work on a ranch, longtime Clark resident Chase Fix turned to biofeedback through counselor Jane Berryhill to help navigate his trauma and flashbacks.

“Biofeedback is a great tool and you learn to breathe again,” Fix said. “I\’m trying to go through everyday life by consciously focusing on my breath, consciously striving to breathe and relax more. It helps me through really traumatic wounds.

Berryhill, who holds two master\’s degrees in clinical counseling and behavioral physiology and now practices at Minds in Motion in Steamboat Springs, uses physiological biosensor monitoring to conduct a stress test and show variability in heart rate, respiration and body temperature. hand. She uses biofeedback techniques with approximately 98% of her clients at Minds in Motion, where she has worked for the past year.

Berryhill has used biofeedback therapy since the 1980s, but said the process is much easier for a counselor to use today or a trained patient to use at home. A small sensor on a finger pressed to the body can show real-time measurements on a computer program on a laptop. The original biofeedback is more complicated because it uses electrodes attached to the body to help gather bodily information.

“When I measure these levels, it reflects back to the client on a computer screen in numbers and graphs,” Berryhill explained. “We\’re not guessing if you\’re stuck in a survival pattern; we can really see it.

According to the Mayo Clinic, biofeedback therapy is a type of mind-body technique that people can use to control certain bodily functions such as heart rate, breathing patterns, and muscle responses.

Mayo Clinic: “You may not realize it, but when you\’re in pain or under stress, your body changes. Your heart rate may increase, you can breathe faster, and your muscles tense. Biofeedback helps you make small changes in your body, such as relaxing muscles, to relieve pain or reduce tension.

As part of her focus on biofeedback therapy, consultant Jane Berryhill has written the workbook called \”Forging the Flow\” intended to help guide patients through \”releasing resistance to flow.\”
Suzie Romig/steamboat pilot and today

Fix said Berryhill had been a \”great coach\” over the past year in helping him \”incorporate movement, breathing and good meditation\” to learn to live with the repercussions of his serious injury.

\”You take yourself out of moments of pressure by breathing and releasing, that\’s what I love about this,\” said Fix.

The consultant said she has used biofeedback with young people with asthma to help control breathing, patients with anxiety and panic attacks, people suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, heart patients, and people going through difficult life disruptions. .

\”Jane is a great addition because people who don\’t want to deal directly with psychological issues or who want to focus more on the physical symptoms of anxiety or trauma, this is a different, more down-to-earth way to deal with anxiety,\” said Angela Melzer, a licensed clinical social worker and owner of Minds of Motion. \”Often, if people can begin to see that they can control their bodily sensations or feel empowered in what they can do, they are more willing to address the underlying causes of the anxiety or do deeper work.\”

Berryhill was introduced to biofeedback decades ago through two psychiatry colleagues in Seattle. He said his curiosity about training turned into a mission to help others. Biofeedback provides a tool that helps people move forward from old patterns of creating disease through stress and trauma.

She graduated with a master\’s degree in clinical counseling with a minor in biofeedback in 1990 from California State University, East Bay. She opened a biofeedback treatment unit in a hospital in Northern California that treated addiction, pain management, and employee assistance program clients. She has worked with victims of domestic violence and in group homes for teenagers.

\”Every time you have a thought, you have a physiological response,\” Berryhill said. “They could be thoughts about something currently happening, or perhaps an internal or external event from something that occurred in the past. We think these emotional responses change over time, then suddenly we\’re triggered by a thought or event from our past trauma, which we\’ve numbed over time but not released.

These bodily responses could manifest as a rush of adrenaline or energy, tense and sometimes twitching muscles, increased pain levels, hands becoming cold or clammy, insomnia, stuttering, headache, fast heart rate, dizziness or nausea, or an increased of stress-induced asthma attacks.

\”When there are stressful or negative thoughts, we can see how the physiology responds,\” Berryhill explained. “I teach different coping skills to enhance or shift a physiological response. It takes a lot of work not to react to emotional triggers. When instead you can learn to become more of an observer and a rescuer, you can create a more peaceful and healthier state of being.

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