Certification for performing biofeedback
State license / state certification to practice vs. board certification in biofeedback:
Biofeedback and applied psychophysiology are generally used in either the clinical or educational realms. In the clinical realm, they are used as part of the assessment and treatment process for specific problems which would have a medical diagnosis. In the educational realm, they are used to help people function optimally, for stress control, etc. There are, of course, areas of overlap between the two realms.
There is a crucial difference in the credentials needed to provide these two different types of services. Clinical practitioners working with medical disorders, may need to be sanctioned (through licenses, certifications, etc.) by their states to practice. Providers working in the educational realm normally would not need such sanctions as they are educators but may be licensed or certified by their states as educators. Providers in both groups need appropriate training in both biofeedback and the problems they are working with. The only way to be sure that a provider has at least a minimal amount of training in biofeedback is for that provider to be certified in biofeedback by a national certification board. Such boards are not normally governmental bodies and are not related to state license and certification groups. Board certification is not a license to practice.
Most states do not restrict who can perform biofeedback services. Thus, a person with no clinical training of any kind nor any specialized training in biofeedback may claim to provide biofeedback services.
Many state licensing boards include the practice of biofeedback within the purviews of such professions as psychology, physical therapy, nursing, physician, etc. Having such a license does not mean that the holder actually has any training or experience in providing biofeedback.
Some professional organizations, such as the American Psychological Association, include biofeedback as a sub-specialty which their members may perform. Being in a profession which recognizes biofeedback as being within the purview of its members does not imply that any particular member has any training or experience in providing biofeedback. Most of these organization would be likely to consider it to be highly unethical for a member to provide biofeedback services without appropriate training.
Regardless of a provider's other credentials, certifications, licenses, etc., the only way to have any assurance that any provider can actually perform biofeedback based interventions for a particular disorder is if the provider has had formal training in (a) biofeedback of the type required to help with a particular problem and (b) training in assessment and helping with that problem.
Note that people who are trained in providing one type of biofeedback or in providing biofeedback for one disorder frequently know little about providing other types of biofeedback or incorporating biofeedback interventions into training for other disorders.
What being board certified in biofeedback means:
The only way to assure clients that a provider has the minimum knowledge base for providing biofeedback services is for that provider to be board certified in biofeedback. There are board certifications in general biofeedback as well as several sub-specialties such as EEG biofeedback/neurofeedback and pelvic floor muscle dysfunction biofeedback.
AAPB feels very strongly that anyone providing biofeedback based services should meet at least the minimum standards of knowledge, training, and experience required to be certified by the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA). There are other organizations which do certify people in biofeedback but AAPB has not assessed their criteria for certification. Further information about certification is available at BCIA's web site http://www.bcia.org/.