Guided Therapeutic Imagery

Guided imagery is a type of relaxation that relies on your capacity to imagine and visualize. It is simple to do whenever and wherever you choose. In fact, all you have to do is close your eyes and visualize a serene setting. It’s imagery therapy where you can see the positive sides of life.  It’s best to include as many sensory details as possible, including what you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. So you’re not just thinking about it; you’re doing it. It is true, your body and nervous system will react as if you’re there when you use your imagination in this way.

History Of Guided Imagery

The history of guided imagery dates back to ancient Greece, and the technique is well-established in Chinese medicine, American Indian traditions, and other healing and religious practices. The enactment of the person in therapy’s specific problems can be regarded as a manner of shaping a person’s imagery, according to Jacob Moreno’s style of psychodrama, created in the 1940s. Hans Leuner, who further refined psychodrama, coined the term “directed effective imagery” to describe the technique.

Dr.Martin Rossman and Dr. David Bressler established support for this guided imagery as a viable therapeutic option for chronic pain, cancer, and other serious illnesses in the 1970s. In 1989, they co-founded the Academy for Guided Imagery as a result of their work. During the 1980s, several health activists and professionals began to publish literature examining the beneficial effects of guided imagery on mental and physical health issues. 

Guided Therapeutic Imagery Techniques

women practicing guided imagery

Guided therapeutic imagery is a technique that can be utilized in a variety of therapeutic contexts, including group and individual treatment. This imagery therapy can be done without the supervision of a therapist after it has been learned. Scripts for image therapy can be obtained on the internet and in books. Many people can take advantage of practicing guided imagery on their own, but it is usually best to get guidance from a skilled practitioner before attempting to utilize it on your own. Individuals can benefit from instruction in the method to get the most out of the intervention. Besides this, these are other therapies commonly used:

In the first place, a therapist who uses this method will usually give vocal instructions to steer the emphasis of the imagery, typically encouraging the person to notice different sensory qualities of the scene. In the second place, a person in treatment can be encouraged to imagine a serene area, complete with all of the fragrances, sounds, and textures that are there. Because it incorporates all five senses, guided image therapy goes beyond visualization. Guided imagery is intended to affect both the body and the mind, and during the process, breathing becomes slower and more controlled as muscles relax, resulting in a state of peace and relaxation. Music may be used by some practitioners as part of their technique.

The technique of imagery therapy is akin to hypnosis and other approaches for inducing a state of calm. Both strategies need some visualization, a concentration on the inner mental experience, and a calm mindset. Hypnosis, on the other hand, focuses more on the suggestion, whereas guided imagery emphasizes the senses.

Issues Treated With Guided Imagery

According to research, guided imagery can help with a variety of issues, including:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Post Traumatic Stress
  • Relationship issues
  • Diminished self-care
  • Family and parenting issues

Medical experts frequently use imagery therapy to treat pain management, high blood pressure, and the decrease of undesired behaviors such as smoking, in addition to emotional and behavioral disorders. This technique is also often utilized by athletes to improve their performance. Generally, guided imagery techniques are employed to target specific issues. For example, a cancer patient might employ guided imagery to imagine healthy cells and powerful organs.

Training For Guided Imagery Therapy

Professional certification in guided imagery therapy, also known as Interactive Guided Imagery, is available through the Academy for Guided Imagery. To practice as a mental health professional, practitioners must complete 150 hours of training, 33 hours of independent study, and be licensed. This strategy can be studied by health educators, personal coaches, bodyworkers, and counselors.

Home-study modules and online group study workshops are used to deliver the training, which is divided into three levels and must be completed within 24 months. 

Although research supports the use of guided image therapy, certain studies imply that it can lead to erroneous recollections. Other elements, such as group pressure, personality traits, and personal experiences, can all contribute to the recovery of false memories.

Benefits of Guided Imagery

Guided imagery may help:

  • Increase control
  • Reduce depression
  • Decrease stress and anxiety
  • Enhance sleep
  • Enhance the quality of life
  • Avoid nausea
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Enhance healing
  • Improve immune system
  • Lower respiratory difficulties
  • Decrease hospital length of stay
  • Enhance self-confidence

Relaxation, insight, and wisdom can all be gained through imagery therapy. It can help you relieve both physical and psychological stress by diverting your attention away from whatever is bothering you and putting you in a more positive frame of mind.

Patients should avoid guided imagery if they are:

  • Actively psychotic
  • Not able to think abstractly
  • Not able to distinguish fantasy from reality
  • Having hallucinations or delusions
  • Have dementia or delirium
  • Unable to communicate

What Are the Cons?

Autonomous guided imagery therapy, like self-hypnosis, can require some practice to master. Working with a professional therapist to get there can be costly, but it’s well worth it. Alternatively, you can utilize one of the many downloaded recordings or follow the basic directions in this article on guided imagery to get started.

Guided imagery and Other Techniques

It’s a terrific stress management solution because of the benefits it delivers. For those with physical limitations, it may be more convenient than exercise or yoga. It does not have the same danger of side effects as some medical and natural treatments. It is simple to use for simple relaxation and can be done by almost anyone.

On the other hand, it works similarly to self-hypnosis in that you enter a profound level of relaxation and communicate with your subconscious mind. Self-hypnosis, on the other hand, is more about implanting thoughts into your subconscious mind, and imagery is more about retrieving ideas from this therapy.

Get Comfortable

Put yourself in a relaxed position, similar to what you’d do for meditation or self-hypnosis. If lying down might put you sleeping, you can cross your legs or recline in a comfy chair instead. Try to put yourself in some kind of position where your physical comfort isn’t a hindrance.

Breathe From Your Belly

Close your eyes and focus on “breathing in peace and breathing out stress” with diaphragmatic deep breathing. This means allowing your belly to expand and contract with your breath; if your shoulders rise and fall, you’re probably carrying tension in your body and not breathing most comfortably.

Vividly Imagine Your Scene

Once you’ve reached a state of relaxation, imagine yourself in the most relaxing environment you can imagine. For some, soaking in the calm, in a tropical island, where attractive people deliver beverages and pleasant music plays in the background, would be ideal. Others may imagine themselves could be around a big fire in a snow hut in the woods, sipping hot cocoa and reading the latest bestseller.

You might want to recall a time and place when you felt wonderful and relaxed (your “happy place”), a vividly described scene from a favorite book, or the way you imagine a place you’ve always wanted to visit.

Immerse Yourself in Sensory Details

Try to use all of your senses when imagining your setting. What does it resemble? How does it make you feel? What unique odors are involved? Do you hear the crackling of a fire, the splash of a waterfall, or the chirping of birds? In the long run, bring your vision to life so vividly that you can almost taste it! 


You are welcome to stay as long as you want. In the first place, get away from what bothers you. When you’re ready to return to reality, count backward from ten or twenty, telling yourself that when you reach ‘one,’ you’ll feel calm and alert, and the rest of your day will be enjoyable. Of course, You’ll feel calmer and refreshed when you return as if you’ve just returned from a mini-vacation, but you won’t have left the room!

Tips for Beginners

woman grateful for guided imagery on the beachIf you’re new to guided image therapy, start by practicing yoga or progressive muscle relaxation first. When your body is calm, it is easier for your mind to relax as well.

If you’re new to guided imagery, consider the following suggestions:

  • You can listen to an audio recording or read a script. It’s best if you listen to a tape so you can execute this exercise while closing your eyes.
  • Select a peaceful location where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Turn off all of your electronics, including your phone. Set your phone to “do not disturb” mode if you’re listening to a recording.
  • Take a few deep breaths in and out. Deeply inhale and exhale before beginning the audio recording.
  • Continue to inhale and exhale deeply as you follow along with the audio recording’s recommendations.
  • Don’t be concerned about your performance. Relax, don’t push yourself too hard, and allow the process to unfold naturally.
  • It takes time to get used to guided imagery. Begin with 5 minutes every day and gradually increase the time.
  • Look at photographs or movies on the Internet if you’re having trouble envisioning serene places. Find a relaxing location and act as if you’re there.

Why Choose Us?

Montare Behavioral Health is a mental health treatment center in Southern California that offers a wide range of services. Anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD, schizoaffective disorder, personality disorders, and bipolar disorder are among the illnesses we treat.

We at our center combine cutting-edge therapies with a holistic philosophy to provide a fresh, approach to treatment and recovery. Success is measured not only in terms of crisis response but also in terms of happiness and prosperity. Contact us so we can help you through this difficult journey.