Guided Imagery is also often referred to as Imagery or Visualisation, and is the use of images to assist one to imagine and attain a specific goal.
Guided Imagery is based on the premise that the mind and body are connected, and that one can use one’s imagination to influence one’s physical health and sense of well-being.
Guided Imagery involves far more than just the visual sense though, which is a good thing as only around 55% of people are strongly wired visually. Guided imagery techniques therefore involve all of the senses.
Advocates have long contended that the imagination is a potent healer that has long been overlooked by practitioners of Western medicine, and believe that Imagery can relieve pain, speed healing and help the body subdue hundreds of ailments, including depression, impotence, allergies and asthma.
The power of the mind to influence the body is quite remarkable. Although it isn’t always curative, imagery can be helpful in 90% of the problems that people normally visit their primary care physician for.
From the famous healing temples of ancient Greece to present-day pilgrims traveling to Mecca and Lourdes, from the Hermetic rites to help a person visualise himself in perfect health to modern-day Christian Science; visualisation has been employed as a powerful tool for inner change.
Relaxation techniques are basically various methods used to focus the attention on calming the mind and relaxing the muscles and include activities such as visualisation exercises, guided imagery, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing exercises.
Meditation and practices that include meditation with movement, such as yoga and tai chi, can also promote relaxation.
The goal is similar in all; to produce the body’s natural relaxation response, characterised by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of increased well-being.
Relaxation techniques work very well with children as they are all gentle exercises.
One of the major boons of relaxation training has been in lessening or alleviating chronic, severe pain. Such pain can arise from many different causes, including backache and chronic migraine or tension headaches, diseases such as cancer, and even as the unintended outcome of operations to control pain.
Relaxation Therapy is being used clinically for a range of medical problems, including the management of the side effects of such medical procedures as kidney dialysis and cancer chemotherapy, gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome, and insomnia, emphysema and skin disorders.
Psychological therapies such as relaxation techniques as well as other approaches such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, can reduce pain in both children and adolescents with chronic headaches or other types of chronic pain and the effects can last for months.