San Diego Mesa College

Psychology 128: Biofeedback and Stress Management

Fall Semester 2005, 3 Units

Room F254 MW 12:30 – 1:50

Instructor: Robin Beltran, Ph.D.

Voice mail: 619-388-2767 x5293

Mailbox: Room K202

Office Hours: By Appointment


Course Syllabus

Course Description: Biofeedback is a theoretical and practical discipline that uses physiological monitors to increase awareness and control of normally subconscious glandular and muscular responses for the purpose of increasing physical and psychological health. Biological responses leading to health or illness will be discussed in terms of their physical and psychological bases. Methods of stress management will be discussed.

Text books: Davis, M., Eshelman, E., & McKay, M. (2000). The relaxation and stress reduction workbook, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc. ISBN 1-57224-214-0

Important Note: Other readings will be distributed in class in the form of handouts. Students are responsible for the material in both the textbook and the handouts, which will be sources for quiz and exam questions.

Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of the course the student will be able to:

  1. Recognize the important historical events of Biofeedback.
  2. Describe the major theories of emotion and stress (e.g. James-Lange, Schachter, Lazarus, and Selye).
  3. Identify the systems of the body which play a role in stress and relaxation.
  4. Identify the physiological measures which are monitored by Biofeedback instrumentation.
  5. Identify the instruments used in Biofeedback and their mode of operation.
  6. Describe the main relaxation exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, guided imagery, breathing exercises, and meditation.
  7. Recognize coping skills such as assertiveness training, thought restructuring, cognitive therapy, stress inoculation, and time management .
  8. Discuss the role of Biofeedback in stress management, sports psychology, behavioral medicine, clinical psychology and physical therapy.
  9. Describe the research methods used to study the efficacy of Biofeedback and stress management.
  10. Identify the means by which competence is achieved and maintained by Biofeedback professionals and recognize the clinical and ethical issues commonly encountered in the application of Biofeedback and stress management.


Course Schedule:

The following schedule is subject to change. Please maintain your schedule, making changes as necessary. Absence will not be considered an excuse for missing or late assignments. Plan your time so that you have completed the assigned reading before class (i.e. read chapters 3 & 4 before 9/12/05). This will facilitate discussion in class and prepare you for weekly quizzes.

Typical class format will include lecture, equipment demonstration, practical exercise, & discussion.


Week #


Lecture Topic:

Stress Management

Lecture Topic:




Labs and Assignments



What Is Stress?

Overview of Stress Management

What is Biofeedback?

History of Biofeedback


Midterm paper assignment





* Labor Day

How You React To Stress

Body Awareness

Stress Response

ANS Physiology


Midterm paper topic due 9/7

QUIZ 9/7




Progressive Relaxation

Respiratory Physiology

Heart Rate Variability


Midterm paper topic final 9/14

QUIZ 9/12

HRV Biofeedback





Sports Performance Enhancement



QUIZ 9/21

HRV Biofeedback



Applied Relaxation Training

Self Hypnosis

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Sleep Disorders


QUIZ 9/28

Skin Conductance Biofeedback




Brief Combination Techniques

Muscle Tension and Chronic Pain

Back Pain


Tension Headache



QUIZ 10/3

EMG Biofeedback



Recording Your Own Relaxation Tape

Refuting Irrational Ideas

Circulatory System Physiology

Raynaud’s Syndrome

Migraine Headache



QUIZ 10/12

Temperature Biofeedback



Thought Stopping

Worry Control

Panic Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Irritable Bowel Syndrome



QUIZ 10/19

LF Biofeedback


Week #


Lecture Topic:

Stress Management

Lecture Topic:




Labs and Assignments



Coping skills

Goal Setting

Time Management

Clinical Intake

15, 16

Midterm paper due 10/26







Midterm exam assignment 10/31





Theories of Emotions/Stress:

James-Lange, Cannon-Bard




Midterm exam due 11/7

QUIZ 11/9


Class presentations



Job Stress Management

Theories of Emotions/Stress: Schacter, Lazarus, Selye

Research in Biofeedback and Behavioral Medicine


QUIZ 11/14



Class presentations




Learning Theory

Biofeedback Equipment and Instrumentation


QUIZ 11/21

Class presentations




Major Schools of Psychology

Other Applications of Biofeedback


QUIZ 11/30

Class presentations



Getting Unstuck

Clinical Competence


Ethical Issues

Clinical Issues

QUIZ 12/5

Class presentations




Final exam 12/14


Important Dates:

9/5/05 Holiday – Labor Day

9/9/05 Last Day to add/drop with no W

9/12/05 Last Day to Drop with refund

9/29/05 Deadline to apply for Credit/NC

11/4/05 No Drops after this date

9/7/05 Choose midterm paper topic

10/26/05 Midterm paper due

11/7/05 Midterm exam due

11/7-12/5 Class Presentations

12/14/05 Final exam


Grading Policy: Total: 500 points

Mid-term research paper 20% of grade 100 points

Mid-term exam 20% of grade 100 points

Class presentation 10% of grade 50 points

Final exam 30% of grade 150 points

Quizzes 20% of grade 100 points

About exams and quizzes:

1. There will be NO make-up exams/quizzes and a missed exam/quiz counts as a zero.

2. Those who provide a written medical excuse can arrange for an alternate assessment date. Most other excuses will not be accepted.

About the midterm paper:

The mid-term paper will be a brief research paper (5 – 8 pages, typed, double-spaced) on a topic of particular interest to you (some ideas are listed below). After getting instructor approval of the topic, research and assimilate material about stress management or biofeedback techniques which could be used to address this dysfunction/topic. Your paper should be based on your research and all assertions of fact should be properly cited. A minimum of two research articles and two other references are required. Attach a copy of your research articles to your mid-term paper.

    1. Mid-term papers are due at the start of class on 10/26/05.
    2. Mid-term papers turned in between 10/26/05 and 11/2/05 will be eligible for half credit.
    3. NO mid-term papers will be accepted after 11/8/05.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ADD/ADHD

Peak Work Performance Bladder Dysfunction

Epilepsy Migraines & Tension Headaches

Chronic Pain – Lower & Upper Back Pain Depression

Sports Performance Enhancement Memory

Premenstrual Syndrome Ergonomics

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Insomnia/Sleep Disorders

Stress Related Disorders Panic Attacks/Anxiety Attacks

Alcohol Addiction/Other Drug Additions Immune Disorders

Incontinence Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Temporalmandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction




Students with disabilities who may need academic accommodations should discuss options with their professors during the first two weeks of class.

Instructor Absence: If no substitute appears, students wait 15 minutes for class. Please print and sign your name on a sign-up sheet before leaving.

Attendance Requirements, Tardiness, and Drop Policy:

Attendance in class has a critical effect on your ability to acquire course content and skills. Since situations may develop which are beyond your control and which may interfere with your attendance, a maximum of 3 absences has been established. This complies with Mesa College policy on attendance (District Policy 3110).

If you miss class, make arrangements with a classmate to keep you informed on lecture topics, handouts, or assignments. Material previously covered will not be prepared for students who are absent or tardy.

Plan to arrive early enough to prepare for class so that lecture can begin at the set time. Promptness reflects professional courtesy and is expected. In this class, two tardy arrivals (10 minutes late) are equal to one absence. Leaving a class early or failure to return from a break is the same as a tardy.

It is the student’s responsibility to add, drop, or withdraw from classes before the deadlines stated in the class schedule. Petitions to add, drop, or withdraw after the deadline will not be approved without proof of circumstances beyond the student’s control which made him/her unable to meet the deadline. Lack of money to pay fees is not considered an extenuating circumstance. Students anticipating difficulty in paying fees before the add deadline should check with the Financial Aid Office about sources of funds or other alternatives for which they may be eligible.

It is the student’s responsibility to pay fees and process the add code within the time frame and it is the student’s responsibility to drop the course officially before the deadline to avoid receiving a grade. Students should consult with the instructor before dropping the course.

Disruptive behavior in the classroom will not be tolerated. Such behavior may include such things as reading other than class materials, using class time to complete unrelated tasks, and carrying on conversations. No guests (including children), food or beverages are allowed in class. Turn off your cell phones and pagers before entering the classroom. For further information, see Policy 3100 and Procedures 3100.1 and 3100.2 in the college catalog and student handbook. No smoking is permitted in the classroom or under the overhang.


Plagiarism is academic theft, taking someone else’s work and handing it in as your own. It will result in an F on that paper and possible disciplinary action by the College. The proper use of research format, acknowledgement of sources, and careful paraphrasing will help you avoid any such problems. Plagiarism is any one of the following:

  1. Verbatim copying without proper acknowledgement.
  2. Paraphrasing without proper acknowledgement.
  3. Putting together a "patchwork" paper from diverse sources, without proper acknowledgement of those sources.
  4. Unacknowledged appropriation of information or of someone else’s ideas.