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uided Imagery
 
What is Interactive Guided Imagery?

© Martin L. Rossman MD

Imagery has a long and varied history in the healing traditions of mankind. It is probably not too much to say that imagery is a central and omnipresent component of all healing experiences when we consider the vital roles played by placebos, suggestion, and positive expectant faith.

Imagery and suggestion are often unconscious elements in the health care communications and may significantly affect the outcome of many therapies and medical interventions. More conscious uses of imagery can help to stimulate therapeutic change, enhance healing, and empower patients to take better care of themselves.

As clinicians working with patients suffering from a broad spectrum of medical and psychological problems, and with others eager to learn more about health promotion and wellness, we have explored a wide variety of therapeutic and educational approaches over the past 20 years. We have found that the use of a highly interactive form of guided imagery has been most effective in helping to meet therapeutic goals in relatively brief periods of time.

Interactive Guided ImagerySM is much more than simply having a patient listen to a predetermined script. It is a powerful modality for helping a patient/client connect with the deeper wellsprings of what is true for them at cognitive, affective, and somatic levels. The guide's role in this process is not to provide better images for the client, but to facilitate an enhanced awareness of the unconscious imagery the client/patient already has, and to help the client learn to meaningfully and effectively interact with this process. This not only brings about psychological and physiologic change, but also empowers the patient as they learn to use the process.

For example, a patient can be asked to close his eyes and allow his mind to present him with a picture that represents the experience of his problem. The patient may then be guided in an imaginary dialogue with this image to explore and reveal its meaning and relevance to the problem or issue. These images can provide important information not only about the problem or illness, but also about the patient's beliefs, hopes, expectations, and fears, their ability to cope with the problem or heal from the illness, and the potential effectiveness of the recommended treatment plan. Many patients have uncannily accurate intuitions about their illnesses, and the imagery process makes these insights available to the diagnostician as part of an overall impression of the patient.

Physically, imagery has the ability to directly influence the autonomic nervous system, and the power of imagination can be recruited to promote specific physiological changes as an aid to healing. In addition, many studies indicate that certain imagery techniques may stimulate physiologic processes including immune and endocrine responses which can accelerate the healing process.

There is no human problem that is not affected to some degree by the mind. Interactive Guided ImagerySM is an effective set of tools that can be used to mobilize the latent, innate healing abilities of the client to support rehabilitation, recovery, and health promotion.

Interactive Guided ImagerySM techniques are easy to learn with proper instruction, and carry few, if any, negative side effects when properly utilized; thus making them an ideal adjunct to any other type of therapy. It is our sincere hope that health professionals from all disciplines will begin to utilize these techniques to help their patients and clients more effectively help themselves.
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About The Author
Physician, author, speaker, researcher, and consultant, Dr. Rossman founded The Healing Mind in order to raise awareness about the power of high quality mind/body self-care tools in self-healing and in the health professions. A graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School in 1969, he has had a long-standing interest in the......more
 
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