How can HeartMath Biorfeedback help me, my relationship, or my family? The heart rate variability pattern reveals the individualʼs ability to recover after physiological arousal (stress), reflecting a smooth or coherent transition between the sympathetic (fight or flight) system and the parasympathetic (rest and digest system). Heart rate variability (HRV) is an adaptive quality and is pertinent to physical, behavioral, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Oneʼs HRV measurement value might be thought of as indicative of physical, behavioral, emotional, and mental adaptability. Heart rate variability biofeedback has been used in the treatment of:
Frequently asked questions about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy:
- What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and how can it help me improve my life?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) (Hayes et al., 1999) is a behavior analytic, functional, experiential approach to changing behavior. It is not psychoanalytic, but rather an alternative approach to improved sense of wellbeing and a full life ACT is based on a Relational Frame Theory (RTF) interpretation of language and rule-governance (Hayes, 1991). From an RTF perspective thoughts are behaviors which serve a function for the person doing the behaving, in the same way that all behaviors serve a function. Through ACT, behavior analysis offers an alternative to traditional talk therapy for the treatment of behaviors associated with anxiety and depression.
- Can ACT help with anxiety?
Anxiety is a set of respondent behaviors such as elevated heart rate, sweating, and shortness of breath, which are regulated by the anatomic nervous system (ANS). Respondent behavior is maintained by antecedent stimuli. For instance, we hear breaks screech and our heart rate increases. Behaviorally speaking, anxiety disorder occurs when we become conditioned that escape is the only means of coping with anxiety so that natural and normal anxiety grows out of proportion, impairing our quality of life. Imagine you are shopping in the grocery store when you notice your heart is racing and your face is flushed. You appraise this as bad, scary, and dangerous. Are you having a heart attack or about to faint? The only antecedent appears to be the sights, sounds, and smells of the grocery store. Your anatomic nervous system, specifically the amygdala, associate that fearful, aversive experience with the grocery store (a process one can think about in classical conditioning terms). Your fears of having a medical problem in public, fainting or being taken away in an ambulance, may cause you to associate the aversion to public places in general. The next day, you might get a nervous palpatation of your heart thinking about going back to the grocery store, or any public place. But eventuall you you have to shop or you will run out of groceries. As you drive to the grocery store your heart starts to race. Now you associate driving with anxiety. This is respondent conditioning, in which you learn to have a classically conditioned response such as elevated heart rate when presented with previously neutral stimuli (grocery stores, people in public places, and driving) through pairing. You turn around and go home, experiencing a great deal of relief. Your relief acts as a negative reinforcer (removal of an aversive) for avoiding anxiety. And your avoidance is negatively reinforced by the relief of giving up and going home. Behavioral treatment would involve context analysis and values clarification, followed by experiences of going to the grocery store many times, and for increasingly prolonged periods of time, learning that you can live with the anxiety without escaping it. The anxiety subsides until the grocery store is no longer associated with anxiety. This is the process of extinction.
- Can ACT help with depression?
From a behavioral perspective, depression is thought to result from an absence of environmental reinforcers. This may occur because of challenges presented in the normal course of life, or the client’s appraisal that previously reinforcing stimuli are no longer reinforcing. This appraisal involves thoughts. Client’s thoughts are viewed as private behaviors “I am miserable,” that influence his public behaviors (decreased eye contact, decreased positive affect, e.g. smiling). The behavior analyst may help the client reappraise the context or antecedent conditions or to accept and observe his thoughts, effectively changing their context and his relationship with them.
- What is the behavior analyst/client relationship like in ACT, and how long until I will see improvement?
In behavioral intervention for anxiety or depression the behavior analyst and client work together to target and change problem behaviors. The client understands and agrees to the treatment rationale in general and how it applied to the treatment plan and to particular procedures.
Behavioral treatment is often short-term, is skills-based and involves active client participation. Clients learn skills through application of behavioral procedures in situ in their daily lives. The behavior analyst is present-focused, seeking to understand the functional role of the client's behavior and experience in his or her current life. Symptoms are viewed as respondent consequences of antecedent stimuli. These may be sights, sounds, smells, or other environmental stimuli, or the thoughts that have become associated to these through operant conditioning. Relief (not avoidance) is an explicit goal, and the behavior analyst’s role is to facilitate the fastest attainment of maximal and enduring improvement, as evidenced by self-report and observed overt behavior. The emphasis on tracking and assessing treatment outcome during therapy is consistent with the use of the empirical literature to inform treatment choice. The client learns to:
Become aware of how their thoughts influence their behavior in ways that are not helpful. Clients are taught to track antecedent thoughts associated with a shift in their behavioral responses, as well as consequential thoughts associated with antecedent behavior.
Clients are taught to identify those things they cannot change and to commit to working with, not against the conditions of their life. The negative thoughts surrounding these conditions are observed, not feared of forced back. Clients learn that they can live with these thoughts and still do what they have committed to; that thoughts are not to be feared.
In many cases behavioral activation training supports these processes. The client and behavior analyst work together to develop an plan to engage the client in activities that are highly reinforcing.
Disclaimer—Clinical depression is a serious mental illness that should be treated by, or in conjunction with, a mental health care provider. You should seek treatment from a mental health care provider if you have had thoughts of suicide recently or in the past, have had a history of family violence, or if a family member has committed or attempted suicide.
Frequently asked questions about Attachment Therapy
Attachement therapy refers to a therapeutic approach relying upon the vast body of research and practice based on the work of John Bowlby. The family structure, and attachment bond between parent and child are incorporated into therapy for clients of all ages. Attachment therapy can be applied to any challenge in relationships, including marriage and infidelity, and divorce. Somatic difficulties and problems relating to self-regulation, such as anxiety and non-clinical depression, can also be explored through the lens of attachment theory.
Frequently asked questions about HeartMath Biofeedback
- Learning, behavioral, and emotional problems such as attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD).
- Anxiety disorder associated with social situations, learning; and test anxiety.
- Lower variability in heart rate predicts a greater risk for death after a heart attack and death from all causes in adults, especially sudden death.
- Lower heart rate variability predicts higher glucose among diabetics and non- diabetics.
- Studies have also shown that rumination and worry, and clinical depression lower heart rate variability.
- Improved test score, social and family function, and sleep have been documented with HRV biofeedback training.
Frequently asked questions about Educational Therapies:
What is educational therapy and how is it different to tutoring? At Chrysalis Center we employ a staff of experienced and credentialed educational and speech and language therapists. While tutoring provides one-on-one support and benefits to the struggling learner; educational therapy delivers lasting change through the application of specific techniques and procedures during one-one-one sessions, which have been scientifically demonstrated to improve skills and increase the intake of information to permanently change the learner. At Chrysalis Center we use the most effective methods available such as Phono-Graphic and Language Wise (McGuinness & McGuinness, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2011), Pay Attention, Integrated Listening Systems, and Montessori and Clay Math. Phono-Graphix, for instance, (developed by Dr. McGuinness, in 1996) has been demonstrated to get average gains of over two years in reading scores in12-sessions (McGuinnness, et al, 1996). In a functional MRI study, students taught with Phono-Graphix demonstrated improved brain connectivity (Simos, et al, 2001, 2002, 2006).
Frequently asked questions about Applied Behavior Analysis:
- What is applied behavior analysis? Applied behavior analysis is the study of behavior and the application of what we understand about behavior to improve the quality of life of the individual. Behavior analysts work with a broad variety of clients including children and families, couples, students in schools, individuals wishing to improve their health related behavior.