Ethics for Biofeedback Providers




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Ethics for Biofeedback Providers

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5 CEUs, Course Fee: $150
Presented by Richard A.  Sherman, PhD

Course Concept and Description:This 5 CE, distance based course is intended for clinicians, educators, and coaches who have incorporated or are interested in incorporating biofeedback (including neurofeedback) intervention and psychophysiological assessment techniques into their practices. It emphasizes issues in ethics and professional conduct which are of special interest to clinicians incorporating biofeedback - many of which are not clearly spelled out in typical codes of ethics and conduct promulgated by clinical organizations. Participants attend three audiovisual lectures (hear the instructor’s voice while watching slides), read text files, and interact with the instructor via e-mail. At the end of the course, participants answer a set of short essay questions covering key concepts in the course. No text is required for this course.
Most participants require about five hours to complete the course including answering the end of course questions and interacting with the instructor. Participants start the course whenever they wish to and proceed through the course at their convenience for up to one year. This course does not replace the standard 45 hour (3 credit) ethics courses usually required for licensure and does not cover all areas of ethics usually covered by such courses.
Five optional lectures are included in the course (introduction to biofeedback and for lectures on what you need to know to do biofeedback). Attending these lectures adds about an extra hour to the course.
Learning objectives: The course objective is to familiarize participants with the key ethical considerations and issues in professional conduct involved in providing biofeedback based interventions and clinical psychophysiological assessments which are frequently not covered adequately in traditional ethics courses. 
This course is designed to help you (the student):

  1. Apply an understanding what biofeedback and psychophysiological recording are to your interventions.
  2. Recognize the training you will need to ethically and knowledgeably incorporate biofeedback based interventions and psychophysiological assessments into your practice.
  3. Develop knowledge based decisions on incorporating validated and unvalidated interventions into your practice and charging for them.
  4. Recognize the importance of understanding how medications (a) cause symptoms of the type commonly treated with biofeedback and (b) affect the signals.
  5. Develop appropriate informed consent and treatment explanation documents.
  6. Determine the extent to which you can apply sensors and when you need a chaperone.


Format: Home study supported by e-mail chats after each unit is completed. The lecture portion of the course is presented through a series of audiovisual lectures profusely illustrated by power-point slides and movies. The course is accessed from the course web site. The audiovisual lectures are on power point slides. You will hear the instructor’s voice while viewing the power point sides. The lectures are between 1 ½ and 2 ½ hours in length. Reading assignments parallel the lectures. After watching the lecture and reading the assigned supporting files, you will answer a brief series of short essay review questions (which are in the review questions file on the course web site). The answered questions are then e-mailed to the instructor. You and the instructor will discuss each unit via e-mail chat after your answers are assessed. There is no need to complete the discussion with the instructor before proceeding to the succeeding lecture & chapters. It is expected that all review questions will be answered correctly and completely by the student. Any questions answered incorrectly or incompletely must be discussed and/or corrected. You will have at least one real-time meeting with the instructor via a web based program such as “go to meeting” during which you will interact around your new skills.
            Accessibility: Hearing impaired people can view the slides only as virtually all of the material presented in the lectures is typed onto the slides. Visually impaired people can concentrate on the verbal lectures as the slide material is repeated in the lecture accompanying each slide.

Accessing course materials: All course materials are available on the course web site. When you purchase the course, you will be given instructions for accessing the course web site immediately.

Computer and Computer Knowledge Requirements:  Anybody with a modern computer and a bit of basic understanding of computer operation (at the level of being able to send e-mails) can play this course with minimal problems. You must have a computer (a) capable of connecting to the internet and running a typical internet program, (b) containing/running a modern word processor such as Microsoft word or Word Perfect, (c) the capability to play sounds such as music (has speakers and appropriate software which normally come with any modern computer), and (d) a slide viewing program such as Power Point (you can probably get a slide viewing program free off the internet if you don’t have one). Any modern (e.g., built within the last ten years), IBM style computer running Windows 98 and more recent platforms (e.g., XP or Windows 8) should be able to do this. Speed, hard disk size, and RAM are not factors for computers in the above category.
             Dozens of students have used recent Apple products (MACs etc.) for the course however they frequently have more difficulty playing the course materials than PC users do.
If you are using a MAC type of computer, you must have a current version of “quicktime”. If you do not have it, you can download it for free from the web.


Faculty: The course is given by Dr. Richard Sherman, Ph.D.  He is certified by BCIA, approved by BCIA to teach the general biofeedback certification course, and currently teaches A&P, Pelvic floor disorders, pain, and other courses. He is a professional psychophysiologist with extensive training (his Ph.D. is in biology & psychology), has nearly 30 years of experience in the field, and has published over 130 books, chapters, and articles (mostly in peer reviewed journals). Dr. Sherman is Director of the psychophysiology doctoral specialization at Saybrook University and has held many positions within the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback including president. Full CV available upon request and on the course web site.

The ten major topics covered in this introductory level course are:

  1. Defining biofeedback and clinical psychophysiology – knowing what biofeedback actually is and what it is not. (Includes optional “introduction to BFB” lecture.)
  2. Training required to ethically and knowledgeably provide biofeedback based services even in cases where a state license includes biofeedback as a practice modality. Includes a discussion of needing to understand how the equipment works, how the body works relative to the signals being fed back, and relationships between specific, diagnosable conditions, and the feedback signal. (Includes optional “what you need to know to do biofeedback” lecture.)
  3. Ethical considerations in charging for non-validated biofeedback based interventions. This includes a discussion of standards for accepting an intervention as efficacious, FDA labels of biofeedback devices, etc.
  4. Client / Patient Rights. This topic includes (a) informed consent for biofeedback based interventions and psychophysiological assessments, (b) patient privacy,  (c) abandonment, (d) duty to protect, & (e) record keeping.
  5. The need to understand the effects of medications on symptoms treated with biofeedback and on the biofeedback signal.
  6. Who can use biofeedback devices as part of therapy – the issue of FDA limitations on prescription of biofeedback devices, technicians running biofeedback sessions, billing issues, etc.
  7. Applying the biofeedback sensors – can you touch the patient? When do you need a chaperone?
  8. Conflicts of interest in charging for home practice aids as part of biofeedback therapy.
  9. Issues in advertising biofeedback based services.
  10. Ethical principles promulgated by the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America. The discussion includes overlap between and precedence of ethical principles promulgated by BCIA and profession based groups such as the APA.

When all requirements have been successfully completed, your course completion certificate will be e-mailed to you and BCIA will be informed that you completed the course.


Administrative Information

Schedule: You can start the course whenever wish to within six months of the purchase date and work at your own pace as long as you complete the course within one year of purchase.
Duration of course validity: You must begin the course within six months of the purchase date and complete it within one year of the purchase date. Courses not completed by that time are void and must be repurchased if still available. No refunds are provided for courses not completed within one year of purchase.

CE Credit: Saybrook University is regionally accredited and approved by the state of California to grant degrees. These are continuing education, not university accredited, courses. CE credits are given through (1) the state of California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences (Approval # PCE1895); (2) The National Board of Certified Counselors (Provider # 6270), and (3) the Behavioral Medicine R&T Foundation is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Foundation maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
Saybrook University is regionally accredited and approved to grant degrees by the state of California.

BCIA: This course is accepted by the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance for both certification and recertification.

Questions / further information? Contact Dr. Philip Brotman at 212-222-5665.

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Tel. (212) 222-5665 (5667 Fax)