Why HRV Biofeedback for Trauma?

There is growing clinical consensus and research evidence that suggests a “trauma” history underlies most psychological symptoms.  These symptoms emerge and remain when a person’s brain is unable to recover on its own from a trauma experience.  Trauma may take the form of “acute trauma” (i.e. exposure to a single traumatic event); “chronic trauma” (repeated exposure to stress such as domestic violence or abuse); or “complex trauma” (exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events).  The latter two have also been referred to as “developmental trauma”. In any case, when a person is traumatized they respond in an evolutionary determined way.  Their autonomic nervous system becomes sympathetic dominant and they go into what is commonly known as the fight/flight/ or freeze response.  (for more on this please visit the website of scientist Stephen Porges: https://www.stephenporges.com/.) If this sympathetic dominance remains in effect too long, emotional, cognitive and/or behavioral symptoms can emerge such as anxiety, depression, poor sleep, decreased attention, alcohol/drug abuse, physical issues, etc.

Psychotherapy can often be helpful in these cases teaching a person to alter their thought patterns, increase their relaxation through meditation techniques, progressive relaxation, etc.  This may not, however, be sufficient to bring a person back to a healthy state of sympathetic-parasympathetic balance.  This is when and why HRV biofeedback can helpful.  HRV-biofeedback gives a person a technique to practice that can facilitate a better balance in their autonomic nervous system allowing them to function better and to have a better life.

If you have an interest in learning more about this type of biofeedback, for your own use, inclusion in your practice or in order to make informed referrals to an HRV-biofeedback provider, our psychologists, who are certified in HRV-biofeedback would be happy to guide you.

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