Interpersonal Biofeedback

Interpersonal Biofeedback is a promising new area of study and clinical practice. It is a hybrid of two evidence based therapies, Biofeedback and Psychotherapy, where information of physiology, such as heart rate, heart rate variability, brain waves, hand temperature, sweat gland activity, and/or respiration are given back to more than one person at a time to help them learn how to tone down nervous system arousal or better tune-in to one another. The first research paper that appeared was in 1978, by family therapist and theorist Michael Kerr, in which he discussed biofeedback may be used to help families.  The earliest work of which I am aware was done by artist Nina Sobel in feedback of brainwave activity of 2 people onto an oscilloscope while they each tried overlap wave form patterns. Some of her work appears on YouTube. Les Fehmi, PhD has also worked with couples looking at brain waves. Ray Varlinski, MFT has been using Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback using 2 EmWave single channel instruments with couples. My work with I-Biofeedback is both in research with couples and in treatment with couples. I use  8 channels of peripheral biofeedback along with audio and video to help couples reduce emotional and physiological reactivity that contribute to anger, resentment, fighting and distancing. When used with communication skills training couples learn more about self and other and report increased marital satisfaction, intimacy and trust. As a coaching tool, it may be useful in employment situations or in divorce mediation.
If you and your partner are interested in I-Biofeedback Therapy, please call my office at 661 259-3704. Since this is a complex therapy, a hybrid of 2 Evidence Based Therapies involving specialized instrumentation, I do not accept third party payment unless it is in writing and worth the overhead and training involved (not at managed care rates). In fact, there is no billing code for I-Biofeedback as it is neither only biofeedback nor only couples counseling!

For the I-Biofeedback Research I am doing, I am currently looking for subject couples to participate in a 10 session original. This study was mentioned in The Biomedical Reports. This study examines the additive therapeutic effect of two existing evidence-based techniques, marital therapy and biofeedback. We are studying the benefits of using interpersonal biofeedback as an additional modality to traditional marital therapy.  Specifically, the effects on marital satisfaction and psychophysiologic reactivity will be measured.

In this study we will be monitoring and giving feedback to each partner about their physiology and teaching them how to control reactivity in order to remain more calm when discussing emotionally charged subjects with their partner. Physiologic parameters such as breathing, heart rate, sweat gland activity and hand temperature will be monitored with specialized equipment, as well as audio and video monitoring of the couple during the study sessions. The therapist will have the ability to stop and replay recordings in order to demonstrate changes in physiology to the couples. The study hypothesizes that study subjects will be able to learn to modify their physiologic reactions and thereby improve communications with their intimate partner.

The aim of this study is one of directed therapy, to focus on the process of how couples talk to one another and how to better resolve conflicts, rather than to simply talk about burning issues in the relationship. If further therapy is required to expand on specific relational issues, subjects will be referred back to their original therapist.

There will be no financial compensation for participating in this study, as this is a non-funded research project, and no charge will be made for these sessions. Involvement for the full 10 sessions is a commitment that will be much appreciated and, we anticipate will be of benefit to the couples involved.

Here is a short movie explaining I-BF and showing 2 actors resolving a dispute while using biofeedback to control nervous system arousal. Please click!


I have been using I-Biofeedback for over 4 years and have presented at several professional conferences.

September, 2014 – Guest Appearance on The Mindset Show,  Radio KCAA AM 1050 with host James Curtis. Start listening at minute 25:20.