Ben Alterman, Ph.D.
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Self-Regulatory Training
Professional Consultation
You can learn to self-regulate your mind and nervous system with the individualized skill development I provide. Because every person is a uniquely complex individual, personal training in self-regulatory skills can be especially effective, beyond what may be gleaned from books and classes. Coaching typically begins with simple half-minute mental exercises, each followed by questions and answers which determine the content of subsequent exercises. This format allows self-regulatory training to proceed at a pace and in a direction that is carefully tailored to your own, personal style and capacities. Thus, anyone from an individual with well developed concentrative abilities to someone unable to cease ruminating can make substantial progress. Moreover, as we proceed, the measure of progress we use is your own subjective response to my guidance.

The variety of techniques we may explore include mindfulness, close and open-focus attention, metta and non-conceptual awareness, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenics, and analytic contemplation. These and other methods are employed according to your needs and preferences. Additionally, various forms of biofeedback may also be used as an adjunct to training. These may include skin conductance, digital temperature, heart rate variability, and/or EEG biofeedback (aka "neurofeedback").

For example, with heart rate variability biofeedback, you can learn to generate a felt sense of calm with a nervous system tone similar to that engendered by aerobic exercise. My clients have found that the ability to shift into such a psychophysiological state helps to dampen autonomic nervous system reactions such as tension, anxiety and even panic, allows one to more calmly manage highly charged circumstances, and can contribute to peak performance in sports, as well as to enhanced meditation practice. Below is an example of an HRV biofeedback training screen.

In the top window of the above screen, the horizontal axis marks the passage of 30 seconds time during which the trainee's heart rate is measured by the red line as it streams by, rising and falling between 60 and 80 beats per minute. The light blue line measures deep abdominal respiration and the dark blue line shallow thorasic respiration. In the middle window of the above screen, the green section of the line graph shows power peaking in the .010 Hz low frequency component of HRV, signifying optimal cardiovascular functioning. Finally the bottom window of the screen above shows the heart beat itself, from which the other measures are derived. The direct insight you can gain from these real-time displays of the interrelationship between your respiratory, cardiovascular and autonomic nervous system functioning, can profoundly enhance your ability to self-regulate them.

Another example of biofeedback employed for some clients as an adjunct to self-regulatory training is the use of neurofeedback to elucidate meditative states. For clients with advanced skills or special needs, based upon qEEG maps of their brain, I construct training screens corresponding to the individual's unique brainwave patterns. This allows me to more accurately guide and monitor progress, and it allows the trainee to receive objective feedback corresponding in real time to subjectively experienced states of mind.

On the screen above, brain activity is observed in real time with a variety of instruments. Thresholds are individually adjusted to optimize training, and parameters are typically changed as training progresses. Please note, however, that the majority of my clients achieve their goals without the need for such adjunctive training.
+ Last modified on June 14th, 2015.