Guided Imagery or Visualization

5 mins read

Guided imagery or Visualization is a technique that is used by natural medicine practitioner. It is a kind of focused relaxation which helps in creating harmony between the body and the mind. This treatment is very helpful in offering a mental escape. The process of guided imagery works by creating or focusing on peaceful or calm images in the human brain.1

Guided Imagery or Visualization can be of great help to tap your inner strengths and also help in finding courage and hope. It is also very helpful in coping with many different conditions both mentally and physically. 2

Guided imagery or Visualization is now one of the widespread scientific techniques that are being used to alleviate depression, stress and anxiety. The procedure also helps in quitting some life endangering habits and also helps the doctors to prepare their patients for many major surgeries. 2

What is Guided Imagery? Where did it originate?
Guided imagery or Visualization is a very effective technique which is used for managing pains and many other mental and physical conditions of the human body.

  • This can work only when all the senses are working together.2 The technique is currently gaining a lot of interest amongst scientists and the patients who are having different conditions.
  • Guided imagery or Visualization is both very effective and very gentle process. Helen Lindquist Bonny, who was a music therapist, developed guided imagery or visualization. In 1960’s, she started researching on the Guided imagery.

How is it beneficial?
There are many benefits of Guided imagery or Visualization. Few of them are listed below:

  • Helps in relieving anxiety and stress
  • The quality and quantity of sleep increases. Very beneficial for the patient with sleeping disorders.
  • Improves self-confidence and self-respect.
  • Helps in improving resistance and healing speed.
  • Helps your body to work along with mind and not against the signals from the brain.
  • Helps in quitting bad and self-destructive addictions or habits.
  • Improvements have been seen in confidence levels and relationships post the procedure.
  • Stimulates overall mild alertness
  • Helps in decreasing pain.
  • Increases your life’s quality and expectancy.

Are there any studies/research on its efficacy?
More than 200 studies were reportedly conducted on the efficiency of Guided imagery or Visualization.

  • So far, it had been proven to help many patients recover faster from mental and physical illness. It also has helped to prepare the patients for medical and surgical procedures.
  • It has been found that Guided imagery or Visualization helps to reduce the complications, side effects of the medical procedures, shortens the recovery time and hence shortens the stay time at hospitals and very importantly strengthens the immune system.

How is it done?
Guided imagery and Visualization are two different things. The procedures followed for these two methods are completely different.

  • Visualization is a type of guided imagery where the therapists have a pre-written script that is read out to the patients. This will help in relieving themselves from stress, depression, anxiety and is very helpful in reducing pain. This is a common procedure with NPL where it is used to create alternative patterns in the patient’s mind.
  • Guided imagery is done to enable the patient create their own images in their unconscious mind which in turn helps the therapist to understand the patient’s problem and give a solution to the same. This technique helps the therapist to gain a deeper insight and understanding about the problem, situation or illness of the patient. This is not the usual interactive therapy as only the patient talks about the images that appeared in his unconscious mind which are resolved later.
  • There is something known as interactive guided imagery which, as the name suggests, is an interactive session. During this session, the therapist interacts with the patient to know more about the images that are appearing in their mind. This gives a chance for personal exploration by the therapist and helps in knowing the problem in a better way.

How can you get started with Guided Imagery?
You should consult an experienced therapist for getting started with Guided imagery. The therapy is a better option if you are trying to find a solution for any of your mental or physical illnesses.

  • If you are just trying to release stress and anxiety then you can try this at home as well.
  • There are many CD’s, DVD’s and many other means available to practice guided imagery.

Process of Guided Imagery
The process is very simple at first.

  • Try lying down in a very comfortable position. Start focusing on your breath and try to relax your body completely.
  • Now, after your body is completely relaxed then start imaging yourself in the midst of something that you feel is most relaxing.
  • Once you start imagining then try to involve all your senses completely into the imagination. This is the most important part of guided imagery.
  • You can now stay there in that imagination or atmosphere as long as you wish to. The choice is completely yours. You can enjoy the imagination to the fullest.
  • Once you are done and want to return to a normal state then count from 10 to 1 backwards.
  • You will feel completely relaxed and stress-free. If you can do it perfectly then you will be able to enjoy the freshness whole day.

Any precautions, contraindications, or interactions
No adverse effects have been reported, and it is completely a safe procedure. But it is always good to talk to a therapist if you are going to combine any convention treatment along with the Guided imagery therapy. It is never a safe to forgo the conventional treatment and just rely on an alternative treatment in case you are advised to use conventional treatment.

Citations:

  1. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/wellness/integrative-medicine/treatments-services/guided-imagery
  2. http://acadgi.com/whatisguidedimagery/index.html
  3. Leuner, H. (1969): Guided Affective Imagery (GAI). A Method of Intensive Psychotherapy. American Journal of Psychotherapy, Vol. 23, No. 1, p. 4–22.
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