Conscious control of your unconscious is closer than you think

The power of feelings and emotions to shape us is incredible. Sometimes, my clients make the mistake of thinking that thoughts and feelings are facts or truths. From my perspective, although they may be powerful, they are simply information feeding our systems, at a conscious and unconscious level.

As many of my clients know, I am passionate about treatments that work. In fact, that phrase underpins the whole of my own practice, and that of our group practice at Mindworx Psychology.

And, as many of my clients know, I’m curious and willing to try almost anything in pursuit of improving health, wellbeing and performance. Almost anything…

So for me, biofeedback a few years ago was one of those things that sounded interesting – something I’d come across in my training in Holistic Health but never really had time to investigate. 2016 was my year of investigation and training. And what I found out was yes, it definitely is interesting, and useful, – and it’s also complicated.

Biofeedback it’s something lots of clients ask about. In fact, neurofeedback (EEG) is a form of biofeedback, and something lots of clients with ADHD or attention issues ask me about. But biofeedback is bigger than just EEG, and has potential to help with much more than attention and impulsivity.

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a process that enables individuals to learn how to change physiological activity with the goal of improving their health and their performance.

How does Biofeedback Work?

Biofeedback uses instruments that measure physiological activity and “feed back” information about changes taking place in real time to the user. Changes in things like brainwaves, heart function, breathing, muscle activity, and skin temperature. Biofeedback is used worldwide to train military personnel, and to help in the management of physical and psychological well-being.

In my Private Practice, I love to use biofeedback – and pair it with changes in thinking, emotions and behaviour. I like to experiment with different forms of feedback, and it’s something I continually investigate, and watch the research on. I also like to listen to my clients when they go off to experiment and try things. Sometimes I hear of amazing results, and that keeps me curious to keep researching.

Curious about how biofeedback might help you?

Think for a moment about the last time you were stressed.

When a person is stressed, we often activate the fight-or-flight response. Our autonomic nervous system (ANS) is primarily in control of fight-or flight responding. Our ANS regulates bodily functions such as heart rate, digestion, breathing rate, how dilated your pupils are, levels of urine, and sexual arousal. It is a high functioning control system, and it works unconsciously – that means we don’t need to remember to make our heart beat, or our stomach digest that piece of pizza we ate.

And although it is usually working outside our conscious awareness, by using biofeedback, clients can gain greater awareness of many physiological functions. To do so, we use instruments that provide information on the activity of a chosen system, with the goal of being able to manipulate it consciously for greater wellbeing, or improved performance.

So, thinking again about being stressed, what would it be like to bring some of those stress responses like sweaty hands, or a rapid heartbeat under conscious control? What would it be like to understand our own patterns of unconscious behaviour? Or to understand how your thoughts link into your ANS and bring changes?

From working with clients, it’s clear that a great many factors can affect the activity of the ANS. It can be affected by our breathing patterns, physical exercise, and even our thoughts. Some of my favourite sessions are those tracking the impact of thoughts for clients. Not just the negative thoughts, but the powerful impact that positive thoughts and feelings can lead to.

For me, technology is a gamechanger in my practice. Biofeedback is just one of the ways that technology can be leveraged to improve performance and reach optimal mental health.

Ready for Change?

Contact Dr Amanda Mullin on 02 8355 3634 for further information – or email

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Dr Amanda Mullin, Founder of Mindworx Psychology & Doctor of Clinical Psychology

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