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Heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure and brainwave activity can all be indicators of a person's stress level, pain sensations and emotional state. Although many factors of a human being's physiology cannot be controlled, some can, and biofeedback therapy attempts to teach control of these physiological reactions with the mind.
Biofeedback is a form of therapy that seeks to teach a patient how to control certain biological functions, normally considered involuntary or automatic, with her mind. Biofeedback technicians use equipment that sends a small electrical pulse through the body to measure respiratory and heart rate, skin temperature and blood pressure. While monitoring these readings, the technician instructs the patient in different physical and mental exercises to help her control physiological reactions and reduce stress and pain. The therapy also has been shown to help retrain muscles or restore control after nerve damage.
Biofeedback technicians are most often employed in hospitals and outpatient care centers, though many naturopathic health practitioners certified in biofeedback are in private practice. According to the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance, biofeedback technicians in private practice may charge between $50 and $150 per hour. Technicians employed by hospitals or outpatient facilities often receive a daily, per diem, rate. These rates may vary depending on other qualifications the technician may have. More generally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, the median annual salary for a health technologist or technician in the United States, as of 2010, was $38,460, and $18.49 per hour. The top-paying industry for these technicians was in psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, with the highest levels of employment occurring in the Chicago and Los Angeles metro areas.
Salary by Region
As salaries vary by industry and type of practice, they also vary by region. According to BLS data, the Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash., metropolitan area pays the highest salaries for this type of position, at $66,280 per year. Non-metropolitan areas paying high salaries include central Texas and eastern Washington. Metropolitan areas paying lower salaries include Albany, N.Y., at $37,440 per year, with Northwest Mississippi being among the lower-paying non-metropolitan areas, at $28,140 per year.
Most biofeedback technician positions require an undergraduate degree in nursing, psychology, or other health-related field. Several certification agencies exist, with the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance being the most recognized. Biofeedback training involves instruction in the biofeedback process, sensors and computer-generated information, as well as imagery and relaxation strategies needed to affect that process.
Mara Kuljer has been writing since 1998 on local politics and environmental issues. She has been published in the "North County Times" and "San Diego Union Tribune." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from University of California, Los Angeles.