14 December 2015

Mindfulness and Biofeedback

Google the term "mindfulness" and you'll see that the results are in the millions. Mindfulness is currently being used by therapists, psychologists and other mental health providers. It is often used in combination with yoga and meditation and is increasingly being introduced in schools and offices. Some of the benefits of mindfulness include stress reduction, reduced rumination, better focus, less emotional reactivity and a greater sense of well being. Mindfulness training has been used to help clients with conditions such as anxiety, headaches and chronic pain, to name a few.

So What is Mindfulness?
Dr. Inna Z. Khazan defines it as: "Mindfulness allows people to become truly aware of the present moment, to tell the difference between what they can and cannot change, and then focus their attention on the things they can change."

What makes Dr. Khazan's work in mindfulness unique is that she takes the technique one step further by combining it with biofeedback. A biofeedback assessment that measures heart rate, respiration, skin conductance, skin temperature and muscle activity provides the client with a window into what is going on in their body and how it reacts to stress.  The results of the initial assessment can help determine the best mindfulness techniques to use with each client. Real-time training with biofeedback can measure the effect mindfulness training has on ones physiology.

On the flipside of that, professionals already using biofeedback can add a mindfulness element to their training.  According to Dr. Khazan, "After analyzing the cases where biofeedback was not immediately successful, I realized that the reason for the lack of progress with biofeedback in some cases was that we were trying hard to change what was not changeable at that moment. Using mindfulness transformed my biofeedback work. I suddenly had a way to help my clients get unstuck and make progress. My clients and I learned to allow what is outside of our control to stay and apply our efforts to things we could control."

Mindfulness Software Suite
The BFE has collaborated with Dr. Inna Khazan to create a software suite that combines the use of mindfulness and biofeedback as described in her book The Clinical Handbook of Biofeedback: A Step-by-Step Guide for Training and Practice with Mindfulness. Compatible with the BioGraph Infiniti software, the BFE Mindfulness suite includes:
  • Psychophysiological stress profile assessment with automatic graphing of results into an easy-to-read excel reports.
  • Relaxation profile assessment for evaluation which relaxation or meditative technique is best suited for the client's individual self regulation. The assessment an automated excel report that graphs relevant data into easy-to-read graphs.
  • Resonance frequency evaluation with automatic graphing of results, to simplify data analysis.
  • Pre-grouped monitoring and training screens, that follow Dr. Khazan’s style of biofeedback training. Data is obtained from muscle tension, respiration, heart rate (BVP or EKG), skin conductance and temperature. The display screens are for 1 or 2-monitor setups.
  • Documentation in the form of a software manual that instructs the users how to make use of all technical aspects of the equipment, sensor, and software setup, as well as sample client data. The software manual also references the specific chapters and pages of Dr. Khazan's book for relevant clinical information.
Utility-aside, this software suite has been enhanced with pleasing designs and a superior overall esthetic that any clinician and client will appreciate. No need for those ugly motifs and unintuitive setups that reduce the overall impact of your sessions.

In order to encourage the success of other clinicians, Dr. Khazan has also included several relaxation text scripts to be used with clients during the relaxation profile assessment. The video below provides a brief overview of the software.

Introduction to the Mindfulness Suite from Biofeedback Federation CIC on Vimeo.

Open House on the Mindfulness Suite - January 28, 2016
Jon Bale, the BFE's research manager, will be hosting a free open house (10:00-11:00 am - Eastern Time US & Canada) for anyone that is interested in getting a first-hand glimpse of the Mindfulness Suite. This is a perfect opportunity to see the software in action, to ask questions from the main software developer, and get an idea how this package will enhance your practice.
This event has already taken place. View the recording here.
View details of software suite.

NEW - Mindfulness Online Class
Date: April 1, 8, 15, 22, 2016
Time: 10:00-11:30 am Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Presented by: Dr. Inna Khazan & Jon Bale

Clinicians interested in a mindfulness and acceptance approach to biofeedback will want to attend this online class that features Dr. Inna Khazan, a leader and author in the field of mindfulness and biofeedback. This class is designed for novice or experienced biofeedback practitioners who wish to integrate mindfulness and biofeedback as a tool in their practice. Over four 90-minute lessons, attendees will learn how to assess and train with biofeedback using the BFE's Mindfulness software suite, while maintaining a mindfulness approach to treatment. By the end of the class, users will be able to:
- record a psychophysiological profile assessment on a subject;
- identify and remove any fake data (artifacts);
- generate and interpret the assessment report results;
- create a treatment plan;
- perform a relaxation evaluation;
- resonant frequency assessment;
- set up training screens and interpret training progress.

Dr. Khazan is the primary instructor for lessons 1 and 4, with Jon Bale guiding lessons 2 and 3.
Click here to register.

About Dr. Inna Z. Khazan
Inna Khazan, Ph.D., BCB, is a Clinical Instructor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, where she teaches biofeedback. A clinical psychologist specializing in health psychology and biofeedback, Dr. Khazan also maintains a private practice in Boston, working with clients presenting with various psychophysiological disorders, using both biofeedback and mindfulness-based approaches to psychotherapy.

Dr. Khazan is a licensed clinical psychologist, board certified in biofeedback. She has over 10 years of experience using biofeedback and mindfulness & acceptance techniques. She has been teaching biofeedback from a mindfulness and acceptance perspective at Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School since 2008 and has implemented these techniques in her independent clinical practice since 2006.  She has been invited to give presentations at various conferences and prestigious institutions in the Boston area on the topics of biofeedback and mindfulness.

FREE Upcoming Mindfulness Event - Dr. Licia Grazzi
On January 25th, the BFE is pleased to welcome Dr. Licia Grazzi who will be presenting a webinar on mindfulness and migraines. In this presentation, Dr. Grazzi will discuss her current clinical research on an over-medicated population group that suffer from chronic migraines. She will primarily focus on her most recent study that compares the success rates of two treatment outcomes for migraine sufferers: the use of a mindfulness-based behavioral approach and the use of traditional pharmacological medication. Her webinar includes a review of general non-pharmacological benefits to the treatment of chronic migraines, as well as an introduction to a mindfulness-based behavioral approach to therapy.

Dr. Grazzi is an executive neurologist at the Headaches Center at the Besta Hospital in Milan, actively collaborated with Frank Andrasik, PhD, and has 30 years of experience with CBT techniques and biofeedback.

Mindfulness as a Non-Pharmacological Approach for Migraine Treatment Webinar
Date: January 25, 2016
Time: 8:30-9:30 am Eastern time (US & Canada)
Presenter: Dr. Licia Grazzi
This event has already taken place. View the recording here.

1 December 2015

Zukor's Carnival and Zukor Media Player

We've just added two new Zukor products to the BFE online shop!
Following an enthusiastic turnout for the free demonstration of Zukor's Air in the spring of 2015, the BFE is scheduling  a similar demonstration for Zukor's Carnival and Zukor Media Player. Not sure what the two newest Zukor Interactive games are? Then please read on.

Training with Carnival Games
Have you ever been to a local fair or amusement park, where there were simple games lining the walkways? Games like tossing a ring onto a post, throwing a dart through balloon and knocking over stacked blocks with a ball, along with the accompanying stuffed animals and toy prizes for doing well? Zukor's Carnival takes this familiar experience and packages into an immersive and entertaining biofeedback and neurofeedback game.

The hallmark of what makes Zukor's Carnival great, not to mention the other Zukor Interactive products, is that self-regulation is the basis of the game. Unlike in reality, a clients' success isn't based on the flick of their wrist when throwing a dart, or how they hold the ball. Instead, it's their ability to maintain the desired psychophysiological state based on heart rate variability, brainwaves or other measurements, which determines if the ring/ball/dart hits the target. Points are scored as clients do well in the games and amassing enough points allows the unlocking of the other 9 games.

Mixed amongst the standard fairground games are also creative, fantastical plays on real-work games. Anyone up for bouncing fireballs onto a target?

Zukor's Carnival is a great addition to the Zukor repetoir of bio/neurofeedback games, and it really is a creative jump in a new direction from the predecessors Zukor's Grind and Air. The only potential drawback is that some of your clients might really want you to give them a giant stuffed animal after a successful feedback session.

Zukor Media Player - Easy Movie and Video Feedback

Based solely on its name, Zukor Media Player is a predicatively easy tool to understand: it plays media. Videos, music, still images - anything you can download onto your computer or insert into your DVD/CD drive, it can use. You might ask yourself "Well what does it use this media for? Zukor Media Player provides an easy answer to "I wish I could use that for our biofeedback/neurofeedback session". With the player, a clinician can now throw any common video file, picture, song, DVD or CD into a feedback protocol.

Have some cute photos of a client's children? It can use that.
Downloaded an awesome video WITH sound? It can use that.
Want to play the client's favorite music? It can use that.

On-top of the Zukor Media Player's ability to use all common file formats, it can even add feedback effects on-top of the original video/pictures/music. For example, when training an athlete to "get in the zone", the chosen video or movie will play normally as they maintain the desired elevated state of self-regulation. If the athlete, however, falls out of focus, we can choose to have the video image slowly blur, as if the viewer is closing their eyes. Their personalized session is created from your choice of video and the applied negative feedback effect. If they don't like the blurring effect, you can instead have clouds move over the image, or make the picture shrink...

You can even mix-and-match feedback effects: a second example could be when that ideal state remains un-attained, the video's sound can be set to decrease in volume AND the video image slowly gets covered in rainfall AND distorts. Based on preference, 16 potential effects can be applied to manipulate the feedback of a video file, from pixilation, snow falling, glittery stars rising, loss of colour, fisheye distortion...

With the Zukor Media Player, a clinician can personalize the feedback content to each client, without the typical hassles that come with the common feedback programs on their own: few to no compatibility problems; no "place the file in a certain folder location"; no being stuck with ugly videos and pictures. Just useful time spent with the client.

YouTube Upgrade
An as optional extra, you can get creative with the choice of feedback videos using the internet's biggest cache of them. With an additional YouTube upgrade, clinicians just need to enter in the address to their favorite YouTube video so that Zukor Media Player will use that for feedback. No need to buy or download animations to the computer. Clients can even get the option to choose some of their favorite YouTube videos for the sessions, with minimal hassle for the clinic.

If you're interested in learning more about Zukor's Carnival and Zukor Media Player, please join the free, interactive demonstrations that will be held by Jon Bale, the BFE's research manager, on February 10, 2015. Get a chance to see the game and player in action, as well as to ask Jon any questions you might have about them.

This event has already taken place.
Click here to view the recorded presentation.

As a reminder, any clinician interested in purchasing Zukor's Carnival or Zukor Media Player from the BFE is entitled to a 30-minute introductory session on the game with Jon Bale. 

Click here to purchase Zukor's Carnival Feedback Game
Click here to purchase Zukor Media Player
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