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Guided Imagery

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Guided imagery, sometimes referred to as guided meditation, visualization, mental rehearsal, and guided self hypnosis, is technique used by mental health professionals. This technique connects the body and mind by using imagination and mental images to evoke emotions and deep relaxation. This gentle and powerful approach can also be traced back to Ancient Greece, Chinese medicine and American Indian traditions. Throughout history, guided imagery has taken on many forms, such as psychodrama which was developed in the U.S. during the 1940’s. Other forms of meditation have been effective in treating chronic pain and other serious physical illnesses. The Academy of Guided Imagery was founded in 1989 and advocates for the positive impact that meditation has on both mental and physical health. There are many benefits to this therapy such as enhancing an individual’s coping skills and stimulating bodily functions. Guided imagery is done by taping into all five senses and connecting the visual part of the brain and the nervous system. Meditation imagery can be done independently, in individual therapy and in group therapy. Many experience guided imagery independently through books, apps, audio recordings, and videos. If done with a professional, a client usually begins guided meditation lying down or sitting comfortably while closing their eyes. When the visual cortex of the brain is activated while an individual’s eyes are closed, physical and emotional states are surfaced which elicits physiological changes that aim to improve health. Before the process, the therapist and client meet and discuss the symptoms and the client’s goals. Next, the therapist will begin the session with calming music or a soothing mantra so that the individual enters a relaxed state. Once, the individual is in deep relaxation a set of instructions are given that leads the individual towards images and methods or relieving any negative symptoms. This can happen in a number of ways. Images can include problem solving and or finding relief or images may be more random and left for interpretation. It is also common for someone to fall asleep during guided meditation since it puts individuals into deep relaxation. A session usually lasts just a couple minutes and can be done everyday as needed. Anyone can benefit from guided imagery however, research shows that those struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, grief, PTSD, inter and intra personal relationship issues, and negative habits benefit the most from guided meditation . In order to facilitate meditation, a health professional must become licensed by The Academy of Guided Imagery and complete long hours of training and independent study. Although there is plenty of research to support guided imagery, there are also professionals that feel that it evokes false memories. Despite some of the limitations, guided imagery can at least provide deep relaxation to all.

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