Thursday, June 1, 2023

Emotional wellness

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery, also referred to as Guided Affective Imagery, or KIP, Katathym-imaginative Psychotherapy, uses mind-body training or mind-body intervention techniques to help the patient to visualize mental images. It is a quick and easy technique to manage and reduce Stress. An instructor or teacher helps you visualize vivid images that evoke the senses of touch, vision, hearing, taste, and smell through verbal instructions or audio recordings or even through the patient’s imagination or inner voice.

There are two techniques or methods to generate images in our minds. These are:

  • Voluntary
  • Involuntary

Voluntary imagery comprises either remembering or reproducing images from past memory or creating entirely new ones from imagination. Whereas involuntary imagery refers to the natural response of the mind to seeing or hearing something, i.e., when the person sees or hears something and can retain the image or sound in their mind.

Guided imagery refers to the first kind, i.e., the voluntary technique of creating and imagining images and perceptual sensations in the brain from the patient’s long term or short-term memory or their imagination with the aid of instructions from the guide or therapist. Guided Imagery is therapeutic and helps patients to focus on specific tasks and images and take their attention away from the Pain and stress, thereby reducing the intensity of their suffering. It has been found to alleviate Stress from the body and mind rather quickly and efficiently and helps the patient get in touch with their subconscious mind.

Usually, the therapist will narrate or play a Guided Imagery recording for the patient that helps them imagine some sort of a scene that evokes all of their senses, i.e., vision, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. It could be a scene on the beach next to the waves where you can see the beautiful waters and the horizon, hear the waves, smell the sea salt, feel the sand and the tides between your toes and even taste the salt in the air. This allows the patient to enter into a deeply relaxed state, making them forget their worries for the moment and bring down their Stress and Anxiety levels. More organizations are realizing that Guided Imagery may also help with reducing Nausea and vomiting, which results from Chemotherapy and reduce Anxiety levels before radiation therapy, but there is not enough solid evidence for the same. But its positive effects on the mental and emotional wellness of the patients are well substantiated. For example, one particular study found that relaxation using Guided Imagery for one week significantly helped reduce anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia, and other psychological distress symptoms as well as physical symptoms in patients with Breast Cancer.

Guided imagery is a relatively simple technique and can be practiced anywhere when a person is feeling stressed or going down a spiral of overthinking and overanalyzing. But it is not easy to master on one’s own. The patient will need help and training from the guide or teacher first before they can start practicing it on their own. At, we provide well-trained in-house Guided Imagery teachers to help patients with their recovery process, as part of our integrative oncology programs.