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What is guided imagery?

Guided imagery, sometimes known as "visualization," is a technique in which a person imagines pictures, sounds, smells,
and other sensations associated with reaching a goal. Imagining being in a certain environment or situation can activate
the senses, producing a physical or psychological effect.

Studies have shown that practicing guided imagery may be able to:

  • temporarily increase numbers of immune system cells to keep the rest of your body healthy
  • help reduce feelings of depression
  • increase feelings of well-being

What to expect in a typical guided imagery session

Guided imagery can be done in group or one-to-one sessions and can last an average of 20 to 30 minutes. In a typical
guided imagery session:

  • The therapist will use one of a variety of guided imagery techniques that will lead you through imagined
    experiences in your mind.
  • Usually, the therapist will guide your imagination to places or situations that will make you feel peaceful, safe,
    relaxed, and secure.
  • The therapist may use gentle background music to create a relaxed atmosphere and help you avoid distractions.
  • With an illness such as cancer, you'll be asked to imagine something, such as a warm healing light on the area
    where the cancer was or images of your immune system attacking cancer cells. One popular exercise involves
    picturing tiny Pac-Man characters chasing and eating cancer cells.
  • The therapist will describe sounds, smells, tastes, or other sensations that might accompany what you're imagining.
  • While you focus on the imagined situation, you might start to experience sensations and feelings, such as warmth,
    lightness, contentment, or strength.
Guided Imagery
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