History of the Biofeedback Program at SSU
In 1969, Eleanor Criswell came to Sonoma State University to teach a physiological psychology class. Knowing of Eleanor's interest in biofeedback, a field that was still in its early infancy, a Beckman EEG device was purchased. A faculty member, Barry Godolphin, added a feedback component to the Beckman instrument with a single-channel EEG hookup. Biofeedback was still part of the physiology psychology class. Three years later, in 1973, the class "Biofeedback and Consciousness Research" was created. At that time, the university acquired some biofeedback equipment that had been developed by Tim Scully, one of the early stand-alone biofeedback equipment manufacturers (Scully was also one of the first to create computerized biofeedback equipment).
Biofeedback in the early eighties was done in research labs, but was not accessible to everyone because the instruments were so large. The first portable biofeedback units were developed by Tom Budzinski and Johann Stoyva, who built portable EMG units. Shortly thereafter, more people started to develop portable units. Tim Scully founded Aquarius Electronics, and in our labs we still have some Aquarius units, including EEG, EMG, and Temperature units, besides ones that Eleanor has donated.
In contrast to the present structure of the biofeedback program at SSU, where students see clients in the labs, students in the early eighties were responsible for coordinating the labs and scheduling their own biofeedback training with each other. Since biofeedback had not yet been computerized, students used stand alone equipment and gave each other feedback using such devices as meters and digital scales. Then, the program received a donation of a computerized biofeedback system, which was followed by Davicon and J&J systems for a few years before we got our first Bio Integrator.
At this time, while Eleanor Criswell was on professional leave, Steve Wall, creator of the Bio Integrator, was teaching the biofeedback program. Steve taught the practicum and internship levels of the program from 1981 to 1998. Steve, along with David Van Nuys and Victor Daniels, were very influential in advancing the program and acquiring our first Bio Integrator.
Also around 1981, the field of biofeedback began to become more professional. The Biofeedback Society of California created the first certification exam in the world and SSU developed a training sequence to meet the needs of those seeking certification. SSU began to offer courses to provide people with the training experience that they needed. Steve Wall, Alex Georgio, Carl Michaels, and Eleanor as a group began to help prepare more and more people for the certification exam.
In 1991, the "Biofeedback and Consciousness" class was expanded to give a deeper grounding in psycho-physiological and somatic research, and the course was re-named "Biofeedback and Somatics." The practicum class was added to the curriculum in 1987, and the biofeedback internship became an officially recognized class in 1994 (it had previously been recognized under the uniform internship programs at SSU).
In 2004, the Biofeedback program received a generous donation from Carl Doran toward the enhancement of the program. The Carl and Kathy Doran Project in Biodfeedback and Somatics was instituted with the goal of promoting the mission of the Biofeedback program: to prepare students for enhanced mind/body health, personal growth, and careers in mind-body psychology (such as psychotherapist, biofeedback facilitator, massage therapist, fitness instructor, or personal trainer). The grant enabled the program to fund classes, internships, equipment acquisition and maintenance, and participation in professional conferences by the Biofeedback faculty.
Biofeedback in the Educational Setting
We have been very fortunate to have our program in the educational setting, not just for the sake of those taking the class, but also for the opportunities it offers students in other classes. These benefits include biofeedback demonstrations conducted in other classes, the provision of biofeedback to university staff, faculty members, and community members for presenting complaints, and support for students dealing with educational issues, public speaking anxiety, sports related issues, and so on. Our supporters in the psychology program, especially including David Van Nuys, Victor Daniels, and many others, have been exceptionally generous, and we are so blessed to have them giving the time, effort, finances, etc., to our program and our cause.