OTHER PAIN TREATMENTS: RELAXATION TRAINING AND BIOFEEDBACK

These psychological therapies are available from trained practitioners, usually medical practitioners or clinical psychologists.

Relaxation Relaxation training is also carried out by a number of physiotherapists and occupational therapists who have been properly trained. Exercises form the basis of a form of therapy known as biogenics — a treatment favoured in certain parts of the United States.

Relaxation training may vary from the formal relaxation training described initially by Jacobson in Europe and popularised by Schultz.

Biofeedback Biofeedback training is relaxation combined with the use of electronic devices. It can give the patient an instant feedback of a degree of tension or relaxation, as measured by electrical conduction of the skin, muscle tension or skin temperature.

These are fed back to the patient in the form of an audible signal, a series of light-emitting diodes similar to the LEDs in an electronic 35 mm camera or as a display with a needle that swings according to the level of stress.

Biofeedback training is particularly useful for patients who feel unable to let themselves go sufficiently with relaxation or hypnosis.

Uses There are few disadvantages to relaxation therapy and biofeedback techniques. Both require time to learn the technique and to perform it. As with other meditation-type techniques, a certain degree of discipline is necessary for the patient to become proficient.

There are few direct arguments against using these therapies apart from obvious depression or severe mental illness.

The treatment is usually done by a registered clinical psychologist. The fees are appropriate for the time the psychologist spends with the patient. These fees range from about $80 to $100 an hour. Some private health funds rebate these fees at about $15 to $20 per session.

As long as referral is made by a doctor, health insurance companies usually cover the cost of such treatment where appropriate.

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