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Guided Imagery

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Guided imagery uses the healing power of the imagination to induce a healing response, reduction in pain or stress, and deep relaxation.  Guided imagery may include any of various techniques used to guide another person or oneself in imagining sensations -- especially in visualizing an image in the mind -- to bring about a desired physical response.  

Often in guided imagery, a provider such as a therapist will guide the patient in a storyline or series of images while the patient has his or her eyes closed.  Various goals of mental or physiological response can be pursued depending on the condition of the patient and their health problem.

For instance, if a cancer patient is undergoing guided imagery, the provider may guide them to a series of images wherein their tumor is being attacked by their immune cells and is shrinking.  They may also have the same patient visualize themselves happy, free of both fear and pain, and in control of their disease.

The physiological basis of guided imagery is the crux of mind-body medicine and is currently at the forefront of scientific research in alternative medicine.  Mind-body interventions constitute a major portion of the overall use of alternative medicine by the public. In 2002, mind-body techniques, including relaxation techniques, meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, and hypnosis, were used by about 17 percent of the adult U.S. population.



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