Stress has a negative effect on emotional wellbeing, health, energy levels, ability to focus, and performance at work and school. There is extensive research exploring the physiological and neurochemical processes brought upon by chronic stress.
Biofeedback is an intervention which directly ameliorates the physiological responses to stress. We use biofeedback equipment that is noninvasive, consisting of sensors placed on the hand. These sensors monitor biological functions associated with stress, such as hearth rate, breathing, and skin temperature. This information is used to tailor relaxation techniques to individual clients, and to verify their effectiveness in real time.
By promoting relaxation, biofeedback fosters a sense of wellbeing and reduced reactivity to anxiety-provoking situations. Ultimately, clients learn to recognize physical signs of stress and ways to ameliorate established stress responses.
Dr. Carrera helps clients strengthen their awareness of the body's physiological responses to promote insight, healing, and growth. When working with her, clients learn skills based in current psychological literature on mindfulness and self-compassion (e.g., paced breathing, exercises to settle thoughts, and meditation). Practicing these skills in session and applying them to daily life has been shown to be helpful when coping with performance and test anxiety, stress, and difficulty with time management.
Dr. Carrera led mindfulness, meditation, and stress management workshops through the Biofeedback Center at Iowa State University. She used Biofeedback sensor technology to help clients identify the effects of chronic stress on heart rate and learn stress management techniques to reverse these effects. At UC Berkeley, she led groups for students to help tame the "inner critic" and promote joy and self-kindness by modifying thought patterns. She prepared and recorded guided meditations for the Breathe project at Northwestern University.
Awareness of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations related to the stress response is necessary to effectively manage life and work stressors. Dr. Cheng utilizes therapeutic interventions based on current research, such as developing a mindfulness practice, meditation techniques, and cognitive-behavioral skills, such as progressive muscle relaxation. Skills are learned and practiced in session, and then applied to daily life. She led workshops on mindfulness-based stress reduction and time management at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
As an additional area of expertise, Dr. Cheng has investigated the intersection of stress management and social activism. She is passionate about fostering self-care, including embracing emotional justice within the context of social justice movements. Dr. Cheng has trained clinicians assisting student activists in pursuit of social justice.
Dr. Macy has conducted experimental research to evaluate and compare interventions to help manage stress, including mindfulness meditation exercises and cognitive-behavioral stress reduction skills. He has explored the mind-body connection, focusing on the stress hormone cortisol and its relationship with perceived stress, depression, anxiety, and the syndrome known as burnout.
In addition, Dr. Macy has delivered workshops on stress reduction at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois. In his therapy work, he helps students and young professionals enhance coping patterns to decrease stress and promote healthier and more fulfilling lives. Some of the techniques that Dr. Macy has experience with include progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, time management, and ways of cultivating work-life balance.