Clinical psychologists who use biofeedback on patients need "a stronger dose of experimental science and its interpretation," says a psychologist at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, Calif.
"Too many clinicians continue to believe what they want to believe about the specific clinical efficacy of biofeedback in the face of experimental evidence to the contrary, or in the absence of supporting experimental evidence even after more than 15 years of effort," says Alan H. Roberts, director of behavioral medicine at Scripps.
The history of biofeedback therapy, Roberts writes in American Psychologist, the magazine of the American Psychological Association, reveals "practically no meaningful relationship between research findings . . . and the clinical practice of biofeedback."
Despite its growing popularity in the past 15 years, he says, there is "absolutely no convincing evidence that biofeedback is an essential or specific technique for the treatment of any condition."
Roberts, who quit the Biofeedback Research Society when it changed its name to the Biofeedback Society of America, says the movement of clinical psychology "from the tough-minded toward the tender-minded" in the past decade "has led to a kind of muddleheadedness, or uncriticalness, that does not serve either our profession or our clients well."
Roberts calls on graduate schools to put more emphasis on training clinical psychologists to understand and interpret scientific data.