Student Counseling Services offers a biofeedback lab for students to understand how to manage stress and anxiety.
The lab utilizes a clinical version of the Alive software tool to understand a person’s biological systems. By analyzing the person’s breathing patterns under stress, the lab can recommend ways to manage stress triggers when they arise in daily life.
Michelle Morris, licensed professional counselor at SCS, said students can be referred by a clinician or self-refer by calling the SCS office and completing a registration form. The biofeedback lab which is typically reserved for an hour.
“You’re able to see your heart rate on the screen and kind of participate in different activities whether that’s workshops, they call it environment or games, and see how your breathing impacts your heartrate,” Morris said.
SCS Director Mary Ann Covey said the lab is another resource for students at the SCS to help them relax and understand the physiology of both stress and relaxation.
“The number one issue presented to us at the counseling center is anxiety, and that’s nationwide,” Covey said. “Trying to help students and connect with them where they are and give them a resource is what we’re trying to do.”
Morris said the lab teaches students to recognize signs of stress and use what they learn to help manage those symptoms.
“When we’re under a lot of stress and anxiety — and actually just generally in life — we have a tendency to breath more, not as smoothly as is optimal for the best functioning,” Morris said.
The overarching idea is to focus on methods of breathing in relation to stress. In order to do this, the biofeedback lab provides data on how a person’s breathing patterns change when introduced to stressful situations.
“If we are slowing down our breath rate and breathing more smoothly, then that helps us to function at more of an optimum level and were able to manage the stresses of daily life in a more effective way,” Morris said.
Bethany Smith, licensed professional counselor and assistant director at SCS, said she has had successful responses with students who use the biofeedback lab.
“I’ve found that students really can enjoy this mode of treatment,” Smith said. “It’s something they can do one-on-one and it’s very self-paced.”
Smith said the Alive software program contributes to this success because it helps teach students what they need in order to manage stress. She said the biofeedback lab can be used without a counselor but that the counselors are also available to help focus on themselves and their self-care, which with the breathing practices learned in the lab has been shown to make a difference over time.
Smith said the Alive software program contributes to this success because it helps teach students what they need to manage stress. She said the biofeedback lab can be used with or without a counselor, and the breathing practices learned in the lab have been shown to make a difference over time.
“I think that it’s a really cool thing that it’s pretty self-paced and students can really learn in their own time,” Smith said. “They don’t have to meet with a counselor to engage in the biofeedback and so it’s really kind of at their convenience.”