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Other Names:

Guided Health Imagery, Guided Visualization, Imagerie Guidée, Imagery, Imaginación Guiada, Visualisation, Visualisation Guidée, Visualization, Visualization Therapy, VT.

GUIDED IMAGERY Overview Information

Guided imagery is the use of directed thoughts and visualizations to fight disease.

Guided imagery is used for stress, anxiety, pain, lung disease, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, depression, fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), social anxiety, and many other conditions. It is also used to promote weight loss and smoking cessation. Some people use it to ease pain and other discomfort after surgery.

How does it work?

Guided imagery is the use of guided or directed thoughts and visualizations to deepen relaxation and to visualize solutions to problems or disease fighting processes, resulting in positive outcomes. For example, cancer patients might envision the body’s defense systems fighting and destroying cancer cells.

The visualization process can be guided by an instructor or prerecorded tapes.

Guided imagery is often used with other techniques such as relaxation therapy to help reduce stress in stressful situations. Guided imagery is thought to improve relaxation and help people feel in control of their situation, often resulting in improved emotions and attitudes.

GUIDED IMAGERY Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Possibly Effective for:

  • Stress. Guided imagery in combination with relaxation training seems to reduce psychological distress, improve relaxation, decrease anxiety and depression, and improve quality of life in people undergoing stressful situations such as cancer treatment or hospitalization.

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There is some evidence that guided imagery can improve oxygen saturation in patients with COPD, but it doesn’t seem to improve breathing in other ways.
  • Fibromyalgia. There is some evidence that some forms of guided imagery can significantly improve fibromyalgia patients’ ability to function. But there is conflicting information about its effect on pain.
  • Osteoarthritis. There is some evidence that guided imagery in combination with relaxation training improves some symptoms of osteoarthritis and quality of life in women with osteoarthritis.
  • Recovery from surgery. Early research suggests that guided imagery doesn’t significantly speed recovery from certain types of surgery.
  • Smoking cessation. In one study, 26% of people who used guided imagery to stop smoking were still not smoking after 2 years.
  • Stomach pain. Developing research suggests that guided imagery works better than breathing exercises in reducing ongoing stomach pain when used in children over 5 years of age.
  • Tension headache. Some people with headaches report that guided imagery makes them feel better.
  • Anxiety.
  • Cancer.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Depression.
  • Fatigue.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Pain.
  • Relaxation.
  • Social anxiety.
  • Weight loss.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of guided imagery for these uses.

GUIDED IMAGERY Side Effects & Safety

There are no known safety concerns.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of guided imagery during pregnancy and breast-feeding. However, there is no known reason to suspect it might be harmful.

GUIDED IMAGERY Interactions What is this?

We currently have no information for GUIDED IMAGERY Interactions

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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