Guided imagery (directing the images/pictures we experience through any of our sensory perceptions) is an ancient therapy. Providers of health care extending back to the beginning of human history have used guided imagery as a reflecting point in assisting people to reconnect to their inner resources for healing. Recalled sights, tastes, smells and feelings are inner resources containing images and energy important to a healthy recovery.
Helping others to direct their imaginations and daydreams to a greater awareness of their overall health and well-being has been increasingly established by research to demonstrate a positive impact in the healing process.
In addition to inducing a relaxation response and reducing chronic pain, guided imagery has been effective in many areas for the mind, body, and spirit by lowering cholesterol, reducing blood pressure and lessening the adverse effects of chemotherapy, etc.
"Guided imagery can be used," writes Katherine Brown-Saltzman, "to reacquaint patients with their healthy side, give them back a measure of control, enhance their immunologic response to stress, reduce side effects of treatment and diminish anxiety and fear. For persons with cancer, guided imagery has been found to reduce or arrest the side effects of nausea and vomiting, create a relaxation response, affect the immune system, and assist in the management of anxiety, pain and terminal illness."
Professionals certified in performing guided imagery define their role as others have down through the centuries: like that of a companion or partner accompanying another on a journey. An important assumption in the practice of this ancient technique is that people intuitively know what images will serve them most as powerful resources in their healing process.
What is the Experience Like?
Assisting others through guided imagery can go in many different directions, but generally all of the various techniques include efforts to produce a sense of general relaxation.
For example, recipients are encouraged to release physical tensions and to be mindful of their breathing and heart rate. They may then be asked to locate a safe or familiar place where they feel secure and protected, empowered, relaxed or at peace.
This technique enables recipients to experience themselves with greater awareness while providing opportunities for greater stress management. In addition, recipients are often encouraged and reminded to draw upon this resource when situations of stress, anxiety and pain reoccur.
Other guided imagery techniques include focusing on a specific area that is causing a problem or pain and imagining an inner-guide or wise person assisting in the healing process.
, if you are interested in experiencing Guided Imagery while a patient at Hartford Hospital or for more information please contact Pastoral Services, (860) 545-2251 or Integrative Medicine, (860) 545-4444 or by e-mail itherapy@HartHosp.org