ALISON LEIGH

PSYCHOTHERAPY

GUIDED IMAGERY


  • Patients who feel uncomfortable "opening up" in a traditional therapist-patient session may feel more at ease with a self-directed therapy like guided imagery.

    Guided Imagery is a therapeutic technique that is used to promote relaxation and healing. Imagery (thoughts or mental representations with sensory qualities) can help people to achieve a variety of health goals, such as alleviating anxiety or depression, overcoming phobias, trauma recovery, reducing health-endangering habits (overeating, smoking), healing from physical illness, and physical symptom reduction (i.e., headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, G.I. problems, chronic pain).

    Guided imagery is a two-part process. The first component involves reaching a state of deep relaxation through breathing and muscle relaxation techniques. During the relaxation phase, the person closes her eyes and focuses on the slow, in and out sensation of breathing. Or, she might focus on releasing the feelings of tension from her muscles, starting with the toes and working up to the top of the head. Once complete relaxation is achieved, the second component of the exercise is the imagery, or visualization, itself.

    Guided imagery also gives individuals a sense of empowerment, or control. The technique is induced by a therapist who guides the patient but does not dictate where or how they go about their journey. It is up to the individual to chose their own destination, thus leaving the patient in total control and not at the mercy of the therapist. The resulting mental imagery used is solely a product of the individual's imagination.