Biofeedback is a training technique in which a person learns to improve his or her health and performance by using signals that correspond to their physiological reactions (i.e., measurements of heart rate, muscle tension, finger temperature) to return impaired functions back to normal. The problems primarily addressed with this technique are somatic manifestations of stress, or stress-related illnesses. While the physical symptoms are real – such as headaches, gastrointestinal disturbance or chronic pain – they are often the result of emotional distress. Even if there is a physical cause for the pain, the emotional reaction and resulting tension may be contributing significantly to it. A person using biofeedback equipment concentrates on efforts such as slowing heart rate, reducing muscle tension or warming extremities, which indicate that the relaxation response, or the parasympathetic nervous system, is being activated. What is learned is then practiced, both during the sessions and in between. Biofeedback is not psychotherapy, and does not address the possible underlying psychological causes for the stress; it is only used to enhance physical relaxation and symptom relief.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a verbal therapy that has been demonstrated by many research studies to be the most effective approach for a variety of psychological problems. The therapy relationship is collaborative and goal-oriented, and the focus on thoughts, beliefs, assumptions and behaviors is key. In CBT, the goal is for a person to develop more realistic and rational perspectives, and make healthier behavioral choices, as well as to feel relief from negative emotional states. Specific techniques, strategies and methods are used to help people to improve their mood, relationships and work performance.

Schema Therapy is similar to cognitive therapy in that the focus is on correcting problems in a person’s habitual patterns of thinking and feeling, and corresponding difficulties in his or her behavioral coping style. The focus is on identifying and understanding, and then challenging and overcoming the long-standing maladaptive patterns in thinking, feeling and behavior that create obstacles for a person in getting needs met and attaining life goals. As with standard CBT, the goal is for the person to feel better and enjoy greater life satisfaction.

CTA is a network of experienced therapists in the NY metro area who provide Cognitive Therapy and Schema-Focused Therapy. To inquire about an appointment, please call us at 212-258-2577.

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