Alternative Medicine: Guided Imagery as a Tool for Relaxation, Confidence, Pain Relief
If you’re looking
for something that can help you relax, perhaps help soothe your anxiety or
even give you a sense of control over your cancer, you may want to investigate
guided imagery therapy. Guided imagery is akin to hypnosis. The basic idea
behind it is that your mind can affect the health of your body and the way
During the sessions,
patients, along with a guided imagery practitioner, use a visualization technique
that helps them imagine positive thoughts and pictures. Cancer patients often
use a technique developed by an oncologist named O. Carl Simonton and his
wife. Patients imagine that their immune system is “gobbling up” and destroying
cancer cells. They also may envision their tumors shrinking. They may imagine
that their bodies are becoming cancer-free.
include imagining a ball of healing energy forming somewhere in your body.
When you’re able to visualize this ball, you imagine that as you breathe in
and out, you’re able to “blow” the ball to any area of your body where you
feel pain or tension.
practitioners also help patients to learn general relaxation techniques that
help reduce stress. It can help you learn to guide yourself to enter a state
of mind that’s more peaceful and calm.
There have been
small studies on the effect of guided imagery on cancer patients and treatment.
Findings have shown that it can help
practitioners believe that guided imagery can help strengthen the immune system,
because it helps reduce stress.
The first thing
to remember is that guided imagery can be used along with your other cancer
treatment, but it shouldn’t replace it. It’s what some practitioners call
an “adjunct” therapy.
To find a guided
imagery therapist in your area, visit the Academy for Guided Imagery http://www.academyforguidedimagery.com/findprac.php
. You could also ask members of your treatment team whether they can recommend
a practitioner for you.
The Academy of Guided Imagery; K. Pelletier, The Best Alternative Medicine, Simon & Schuster, New York, New York, 2000; Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center; The National Cancer Institute