Module 1: Biofeedback Definitions
and Important Concepts
Biofeedback is the use of scientifically designed medical equipment to learn how to relax and re-educate muscles in order to reduce stress and pain and improve the quality of life. There are many different types of biofeedback devices available to professionals as well as the public.
Intended use of Biofeedback Devices
Licensed Health Care Professionals - Biofeedback is a tool legally licensed health care practitioners may use for any purpose included within the scope of practice of their license. Licensed health care professionals may hire or employ the services of a properly certified biofeedback professional to provide these services under their supervision.
Certified Biofeedback Professionals - Unlicensed biofeedback practitioners who are certified by a nationally recognized, accredited certification board may only use biofeedback for relaxation and muscle re-education to reduce stress, manage pain and improve the quality of life. Unlicensed, properly trained and certified biofeedback professionals may provide biofeedback services within the scope of practice and under the supervision of a licensed medical doctor, dentist, chiropractor, veterinarian, psychologist or psychotherapist.
Note: These statements apply only to biofeedback professionals in the United States, Canada, the European Community, the British Commonwealth nations and a few other countries who voluntarily adopt the USA FDA, Health Canada or the European Community regulations regarding biofeedback. Professionals in other countries need to check with their government regarding the regulations affecting the practice of biofeedback in that country.
Unlicensed Non-Certified Persons - It is illegal for anybody else to operate a biofeedback device except for themselves and then only under a prescription from a qualified biofeedback professional.
Protecting the Public
Government protects the public from harm caused by biofeedback professionals a number of different ways. The first level of public protection is at the national level. The USA FDA, Canadian Health Canada, the British Commonwealth of nations and the European Community all classify biofeedback devices as medical devices. So do several other countries.
In these countries biofeedback devices may only be operated by licensed health care professionals or certified biofeedback practitioners. Note that when and if any state, province or country licenses biofeedback, then certification will no longer be valid in that jurisdiction. Any other use of biofeedback devices is illegal with the following exceptions:
- Individuals may use biofeedback for themselves under a prescription and the supervision of a properly credentialed biofeedback professional.
- Some biofeedback devices are exempt from FDA, Health Canada, or EU rules and regulations and may be used by individuals without a prescription.
- Exempt biofeedback devices are not clinical devices and biofeedback professionals are generally barred from using them for clinical purposes.
The FDA, Health Canada, British Commonwealth nations and European Community all regulate the manufacturing, sales and marketing of biofeedback devices. Manufacturers are required to obtain a license from the proper federal regulatory agency to sell or market their devices in any country. Sales and marketing representatives are limited in the statements they can legally make about biofeedback devices by federal regulatory agencies.
State and provincial license boards regulate the practice of medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, veterinary medicine, psychology, diet and nutrition. Violation of these regulations is a serious matter that can result in monetary fines and incarceration. Non-licensed professionals are required to be certified by a recognized and accredited board or face federal, state or provincial penalties.
Sources of Lawful Certification for Biofeedback Professionals
Biofeedback Certification Institute of America - BCIA certifies biofeedback practitioners as BCIAC and neurotherapy practitioners as BCIA-EEG. BCIA does not certify apprentices or technicians who are not qualified to practice independently. BCIA does certify Fellows and Senior Fellows which certification is equivalent to a diplomate status in other professions.
Biofeedback Certification Board - NTCB certifies biofeedback practitioners as Certified Biofeedback Specialists and neurofeedback practitioners as Board Certified Neurotherapists. NTCB also certifies apprentices as Certified Biofeedback Technicians and Certified Neurofeedback Technicians. Both types of technician must be supervised by a qualified supervisor. NTCB has diplomate programs for specific specialties.
Other Certification Boards - So far aswe are aware, there are no other nationally recognized and accredited certification boards serving the biofeedback community.
Professional Biofeedback Associations
American Association of Drugless Practitioners - AADP is a large, non-accredited certification board and association that most legitimate associations consider to be a "diploma mill" offering certifications with no value. Biofeedback Coach does not recommend this organization.
American Association of Spiritual Healers and Coaches - AASHC is the largest association of licensed spiritual healers and coaches in North America. It is one of three spiritual healer associations accredited and endorsed by the Federation of Spiritual Healer Licensing Boards (FSHLB). Biofeedback Coach recommends AASHC.
Association of Biofeedback & Bioresonance Practitioners - ABBP certification board and association are defunct. Certified members are referred to NTCB to continue their certification. ABBP Association members are referred to BANA to continue to receive their benefits.
Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback - AAPB is the oldest and best-known biofeedback association. It appeals mainly to licensed psychologists. AAPB holds an annual meeting, publishes a newsletter and a peer-reviewed journal. AAPB is endorsed by BCIA and shares a full-time executive director with BCIA to assist members. Biofeedback Coach recommends AAPB to licensed health care professionals.
Biofeedback Association of North America - BANA is an accredited association offering members a package of benefits including malpractice insurance, general insurance, Web hosting and Web building tools, free mediation and conflict resolution services to cover client issues, a monthly newsletter covering important topics and a full-time executive director to assist members. Biofeedback Coach recommends BANA.
International Academy of Certified Detoxification Therapists - IACDT is an accredited association of both detoxification practitioners and therapists that works closely with the Detoxofication Certification Board (CDTCB). Biofeedback Coach recommends IACDT.
International Society for Neurotherapy and Research - ISNR is associated with AAPB and BCIA and publishes both a newsletter and peer-reviewed journal. ISNR has their own executive director to assist members. Biofeedback Coach recommends ISNR.
Medical Biofeedback Association and Certification Board - MBACB is associated with the Biofeedback Association of North America and certifies Medical Biofeedback Supervisors. MBACB is accredited and they share a full-time executive director with BANA and NTANA. Biofeedback Coach recommends MBACB to licensed professionals who qualify for membership.
Other Biofeedback Associations - to our knowledge there are no other biofeedback or neurotherapy associations serving biofeedback professionals.
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