Autogenic Training

4 mins read

Autogenic training is probably one of the most powerful techniques developed in the West to deal with stress. It involves a series of simple mental exercises that switch off the body’s fight-or-flight mechanism and switch on restorative rhythms related to intense psychological relaxation.1

What is autogenic training? Where did it originate?
Autogenic training was developed by Johannes Schultz, a German psychiatrist in 1932. The aim of this healing technique is to induce deep relaxation and decrease stress. This is done by coaching the body to react to verbal commands that order it to relax and regulate breathing, heartbeat, blood pressure and body temperature. The methods of autogenic training include standardized self-suggestion exercises that enable the body to feel warm, heavy and relaxed.2

Autogenic training developed from studies that explored the nature of sleep and its powers of recuperation. It can be correctly referred to a form of psychotherapy that intends to obtain the results of all the different forms of psychotherapy.4

How is autogenic training beneficial?
Here is a list of conditions that autogenic training has been found to effectively treat:

  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Skin disorders3

A case report has found that autogenic relaxation has reduced myoclonus secondary to anoxic encephalopathy.3

Studies/Research on the efficacy of autogenic training

  • In 1974, Nicasso and Bootzin concluded in a controlled study that autogenic training was effective and superior to control groups in the treatment of insomnia.4
  • In 2004, a study conducted by Simeit, Deck, and Conta-Marx concluded that a multimodal approach, which includes autogenic training, is superior to a control group in the treatment of insomnia.4

How is autogenic training performed?

  • Autogenic training is usually taught to individuals or is taught in groups of 6-8 people for a duration of 8 weeks.
  • No personal details or problems are discussed because the method is not psychotherapeutic.
  • Each training session goes on for about 2 hours.
  • During a session, specific mental exercises are taught.
  • Students need to perform these exercises in a state of passive concentration.1

How can you get started with autogenic training?
When practiced regularly, autogenic training brings results at a mental level that are comparable to those obtained by Eastern meditation. On a physical level, it brings about chemical and physiological changes similar to that observed during rigorous athletic training.1

Autogenic training can be practiced at y any place and at any time. It appeals to the Western mind because it has no religious, cosmetological, or cultural overtones.1

Autogenic training helps the two hemispheres of the brain to bring about a balance in their activities. It also helps maintain a balance between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system.1

It enables the non-dominant part of the brain to express itself freely.1

Any precautions, contraindications, interactions
No known side effects of autogenic training have been reported in clinical studies. Although there has not been much exploration in the use of autogenic training during pregnancy and breast feeding, there is no premise to suspect any harmful effects.

References

  1. Kermani K. Autogenic Training: The Effective Holistic Way to Better Health. Souvenir Press; 2011. 336p.
  2. Crawford C, Wallerstedt DB, Khorsan R, Clausen SS, Jonas WB, Walter JA. A systematic review of biopsychosocial training programs for the self-management of emotional stress: potential applications for the military. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:747694. doi: 10.1155/2013/747694. Epub 2013 Sep 23. Review. PubMed PMID: 24174982; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3794660.
  3. Sugimoto K, Theoharides TC, Kempuraj D, Conti P. Response of spinal myoclonus to a combination therapy of autogenic training and biofeedback. Biopsychosoc Med. 2007 Oct 12;1:18. PubMed PMID: 17931427; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2173903.
  4. Sadigh M.R. Autogenic Training: A Mind-Body Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain Syndrome and Stress-Related Disorders, 2nd ed. McFarland; 2012. 275p.
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