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Guided Imagery & Psychotherapy Uses


Guided imagery is a part of the field of mind/body medicine, defined as using the power of the mind to evoke a positive response. Imagery is a flow of thoughts allowing one to see, hear, feel, smell, or taste in the imagination; it is an inner representation of our experience or a fantasy, and a symbolic personal language. Imagery is viewed as the language of emotions and the interface between the mind and the body. Worry is a form of imagery that is common to most; a good worrier may be a good candidate for guided imagery. Guided imagery can provide access to cognitive structures that allow for psychotherapy to take place, it can also help heal by reducing stress, slowing the heart rate, stimulating the immune system, reducing pain, and increasing self-care (Strohecker, 1994).

Guided imagery is used to help patients heals from anxiety, chronic pain, and other clinical procedures. Patients are taught to think of positive images with the use of specific words and suggestions. Patients may be led to a relaxed state of mind with muscle relaxation which can be deepened with the use of breathing exercises and the reaching of an imagined safe place (Shames, 1996).

Shames reports that the process begins by getting the patient into a relaxed state which allows images to flow more freely. The progressive muscle relaxation technique, having the patient tense up and then relax each muscle group, can be used to help focus on the body and be distracted from everyday worries. Alternatively, the client may be asked to do a simple countdown (count from 10 to zero), with the suggestion that by reaching zero a state of relaxation will also be reached.

To deepen the relaxed state the client can be asked to pay attention to the breath which changes the focus to the inner world; air is pulled in through the nose and blown out through the mouth and the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide also ...

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