, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 89-99

Constructive integration of learning theory and phenomenological approaches to biofeedback training

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Abstract

Two major sources of theoretical development for biofeedback as an intervention paradigm are considered. An integration of cognitive learning theory approaches to the potential regulation of autonomic processes in an information-processing framework and the phenomenological information-processing approach of Kelly's personal construct theory suggest a new methodological paradigm for biofeedback as a tool of psychotherapeutic intervention, especially for the discipline of behavioral medicine. Biofeedback is reconstrued as a sequence of allocating attention to automatic cognitive processes until cognitive control has been mastered. This sequence is also seen as a circumspection-preemption-control cycle that Kelly (1955) suggested was essential to all problem solving. In light of Kelly's fundamental assumptions regarding the nature of constructs, it is suggested that controlled processing approaches to biofeedback require the biofeedback trainee to investigate both ends of psychophysiological dichotomies instead of demonstrative constructs of traditional biofeedback methodology. Other psychotherapeutic techniques are reviewed to validate this new theoretical approach. Finally, treatment within this paradigm is discussed as a recircumspection of relevant constructs that were routinized during the alarm reaction phase of Selye's general adaptation syndrome.

The author would like to express his appreciation to Kevin Kennelly and Joe Doster for their theoretical training, and to Wes Wenrich for his expert editorial commentary.