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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Bennett

HRV Measuring: A Revolution in Care

Optimal HRV gives social service, mental health, and medical providers a way to quantitatively measure the impact of treatment and intervention on their population.

Until now, there were many difficulties measuring progress or regression of social, emotional, and physical health on a daily or weekly basis. Everyone is left hoping for the best outcomes with little or no data on key indicators for success.

Many variables, including past trauma, current stress, relationship with the helper, community resources, motivation, and other factors influence the success or failure of the intervention. These variables impact on an individual often remain invisible – leaving everyone in the dark as to why interventions that were successful with one person failed for another.

HRV changes our conventional notions of outcomes and progress, and daily measures provide data that sheds light on several critical issues influencing success and failure.

Providers learn much earlier whether interventions are working and what outside stressors are impacting a person’s success. Historically, providers try their best to be flexible in applying interventions that best match their subjective interpretation of the person’s presenting problem. HRV gives the provider objective quantified data to inform these, often lifesaving, decisions.

Our top tips for getting the most out of HRV measuring

Establishing an HRV baseline

Establishing an HRV baseline for the person allows the provider to identify the right solutions and the best way to approach implementation. The person’s baseline gives the provider data to measure the success of the intervention on the mental, physical, cognitive, and social health of the person.

One objective of any intervention should include increasing HRV over time. While HRV fluctuates from hour-to-hour and day-to-day, weekly averages should continue to improve under effective care. If a weekly average declines, the provider is alerted that the intervention is not having the desired effect, and adjustments might be needed.

Identify outside influences

HRV helps the provider identify outside influences that might positively or negatively impact the person’s ability to reach their goals. An almost infinite number of variables influence success or failure in services, not all of which are possible to control when applying an intervention.

An adverse event that threatens the success of a specific intervention will show up as a decrease in HRV over a several day period. This information alerts the provider to check-in with the person and delivers support and resources to help the person re-establish the health and regulation of their nervous system.

HRV measuring pre-session

A HRV measurement before the session provides a starting point for the interaction. An unusually low HRV (showing unhealthy nervous system functioning) helps the provider know that starting with some mindfulness, relaxation exercises, or giving the person a chance to talk about their stress would help them regulate.

The readings also help the provider ensure they do not overwhelm, retraumatize, or otherwise harm the therapeutic relationship. On the other hand, if the person’s pre-meeting HRV is high, then the provider has confidence that moving to more intense conversations will yield productive results.

What about the provider?

One often overlooked aspect of successful outcomes is the health of the provider. The work of helping others is incredibly stressful as demonstrated in the high rates of burnout in these professions.

A provider with high HRV indicates that they are in a state to provide the relational support and to help the person problem-solve. A provider with low HRV might miss important emotional cues or possible solutions that can frustrate and set back a person’s progress, as well as indicating that the provider themselves needs support to help them recover.

Get in touch

If you’d like to discuss how we can add value to your treatment and intervention methods, please drop us an email at

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