When you think of guided imagery you may be thinking of those new, nifty 3D goggles you’ve seen advertised on TV, or possibly sessions with your eyes closed with a coach helping you imagine certain activities or experiences, and you’d be right. Partially. Guided imagery relies heavily on one’s mental focus and ability to process and accept new stimulants, but it’s not limited to mind games. A simple way to articulate the scope of guided imagery is to be coached through a series of mental exercises which include sensory elements designed to enhance the vividness of the experience.
As part of a rehabilitation plan, guided imagery can help alleviate stress through breaking down mental blocks about exercises, coordination, and anxiety about performance or predicted pain. One way to think about it is our mind is a movie studio: throughout the day, we subconsciously write scripts and act out scenes in our mind, setting expectations for upcoming experiences and often creating greater fear or anticipation ahead of the activity. Guided imagery plays into this brain function.
Flipping Scripts with Guided Imagery
One objective of guided imagery is to rewrite these scripts using coaching, sensory experiences, and adaptation, moving a patient from a place of stress, high blood pressure, enhanced pain awareness, to relaxation, openness to rehabilitative effort, and possibly even reduced pain awareness.
Physiological Results of Guided Imagery
Studies have shown guided imagery to impact function of nearly all systems in the body; from respiratory to cardiovascular, immune system to gastrointestinal secretion and cortisol levels. The language used in process has the power to raise or lower the function of these different systems. Creating a safe environment, using positive words further relaxes the patient and can accelerate the effectiveness of the session.
Pain Management Through Guided Imagery
Many techniques can be used to reduce the perceived pain a patient experiences, thereby reducing the quantity or dependency on pain medications. Teaching patients to self-relieve pain through sensory activities may feel a little far-fetched, but it is an excellent example of the power of the mind and crafted narratives over the physiological response to what was once a pain stimulus.
Modern therapies such as guided imagery are finding a wider application through medicine, offering alternatives to traditional pharmaceuticals that may have side effects, dependencies, and even allergies. If you are interested in how guided imagery may be applied to yours or a loved ones’ therapy, contact us to schedule a rehabilitation center tour.Tags: Alternative Therapy, Guided Imagery, healing, holistic therapy, rehabilitive care