How does Interactive Guided ImagerySM work?1
Interactive Guided ImagerySM (IGISM) utilizes imagery, the natural language of the unconscious mind, in helping patients/clients connect with the deeper resources available to them at cognitive (mental), affective (emotional) and somatic (bodily) levels.
Mental images, formed long before we learn to understand and use words, lie at the core of who we think we are, what we believe the world is like, what we feel we deserve, what we think will happen to us, and how motivated we are to take care of ourselves. These images strongly influence our beliefs and attitude about how we fall ill, and what will help us get better.
Unlike most imagery techniques, the guide’s role is not to provide “better” images for the patient, but to facilitate an enhanced awareness of the unconscious imagery the patient already has, and help him or her learn to effectively work with this imagery. This process can bring about profound psychological and physiological change, as it simultaneously empowers and educates the patients.
For example, a client can be asked to close her eyes and allow her mind to prompt a picture that symbolizes her problem. Using IGISM techniques, the client may then be guided in an imaginary dialogue with this image to explore and reveal its meaning and relevance to her problem or issue. These images can provide important information about the problem, as well as the client’s beliefs, expectations, fears, resources and solutions. Since many clients have uncannily accurate intuitions about their problems and solutions, the imagery process makes these insights easily available to them and their clinician.
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.
The IGISM approach is eclectic, holistic, humanistic and non-dogmatic, incorporating skills from many related disciplines including hypnosis, Jungian Psychology, psychosynthesis, self-actualization and ego-state psychology.
There are few physical, emotional or behavioral symptoms or illnesses that are not affected to some degree by the mind. IGISM mobilizes the latent, innate healing abilities of the client to launch rehabilitation, recovery and health enrichment. IGISM techniques are easy to learn, and carry few, if any, negative side effects; thus making them an ideal adjunct to any other type of therapy.Once considered an “alternative” “or complementary” approach, guided imagery is now finding widespread scientific and public acceptance. It is now used to teach psychophysiological relaxation, alleviate anxiety and depression, relieve physical and psychological symptoms, overcome health-endangering habits, and help patients prepare for surgery and tolerate procedures more comfortably.
1Adapted from “What is Interactive Guided ImagerySM“, located at www.academyforguidedimagery.com