Biofeedback Therapy

What is biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a mind-body treatment technique that offers people an opportunity to observe their physical responses and use that information to restore their health and well being. Through the use of awareness exercises, guided relaxations, audio recordings, video games, and home practice, individuals learn strategies to improve healthy coping responses.


By measuring often unconscious physiological activities of your body, such as heart rate and muscle tension, biofeedback allows you to “see” and “hear” your body’s responses to stress, anxiety, trauma, etc. Once your awareness increases, you can learn to change those patterns to reduce physical and psychological symptoms, and to improve your overall health. Photo: This demonstration of a typical biofeedback session includes Caitlin Anderson (L), graduate student counseling and biofeedback intern and Kathe Irvine (R), L.M.S.W. (see bio below).

Biofeedback can help:

Biofeedback is used to help you:

  • Increase awareness of the emotional and physical impact of stress
  • Learn to engage the relaxation response
  • Improve emotional regulation
  • Support chronic pain management
  • Enhance work, academic, and athletic performance
  • Manage bodily symptoms which are impacted by tension (i.e. headaches, intestinal discomfort)
  • Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety

What to expect:

During a session sensors are placed on your fingers to measure physiological activities- such as breathing, heart rate, muscle tension and skin temperature. An initial assessment is completed to develop an individualized training plan; which may include use of techniques such as paced breathing, guided visualization, muscle relaxation, and more. With coaching from a biofeedback specialist, you will begin to bring your attention into the present and learn to consciously move towards a more relaxed state.

How long does it take?

Each person is unique, but generally 10-30 sessions in conjunction with home practice builds a strong foundation in skill development for being able to modify physiological responses.

What is the cost?

Generally, biofeedback is covered by insurance. A sliding scale is also an option through generous donors to the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.

How to make a biofeedback appointment:

Call 515-274-4006 or email

The Center’s biofeedback staff:

Kathe Irvine, L.M.S.W.

Kathe Irvine, L.M.S.W.

Kathe Irvine, LMSW, is a licensed master social worker. She earned her undergraduate degree in sociology and women’s studies from the University of Northern Iowa and her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Iowa. Kathe provides counseling and psychotherapy to individuals as well as couples and families. She is trained trauma sensitive yoga provider. Kathe has a special interest in providing holistic care to resolve issues of grief, trauma, life transitions, divorce, anxiety and depression. Kathe is a member of  the National Association of Social Workers.


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