This treatment modality is thought to promote wellness and optimize overall health. Guided imagery should be used with, not in place of, standard cancer therapy.
What does guided imagery involve?
Guided imagery is a visualization technique, referred to as a "focused daydream" by some practitioners, which helps patients to focus on positive images to heal their bodies. Guided imagery practitioners will teach patients general relaxation exercises and help them build detailed images in their minds. Patients are encouraged to picture their tumors shrinking in one local area or their whole body freeing itself of cancer. The Simonton method of guided imagery, developed by oncologist O. Carl Simonton and his wife, was designed to help patients undergoing standard treatments for cancer. This method teaches cancer patients to picture their immune system cells "gobbling up" cancer cells like "Pac Man," and destroying them.
How is guided imagery thought to promote wellness and optimize overall health?
Guided imagery is based on the idea that the mind can affect the functions of the body. Proponents suggest that stimulating the brain through imagery can have a direct effect on both the endocrine and nervous systems, which lead to changes in immune system function. Guided imagery is used to promote relaxation, reduce stress and help the mind influence the body in positive ways.
What has been proven about the benefit of guided imagery?
A review of 46 studies conducted from 1966 to 1998 by the American Cancer Society found that guided imagery was effective in managing stress, anxiety, depression, pain and the side effects of chemotherapy. A recent randomized clinical trial involving women with early stage breast cancer found guided imagery was also useful for easing anxiety related to radiation therapy, including fears about the equipment, surgical pain, and recurrence of cancer. Although one uncontrolled, exploratory study suggested that guided imagery can increase survival rates for people with cancer, there is no scientific evidence these techniques can cure cancer or any other disease.
What is the potential risk or harm of guided imagery?
There are no known side effects or risks of guided imagery.
How much does guided imagery cost?
Guided imagery is taught in small classes or in one-on-one sessions. Costs will vary depending on class size and practitioner. Patients may also try to learn guided imagery from books and audiotapes, an inexpensive alternative to classes.
For additional information:
Academy for Guided Imagery
P.O. Box 2070
Mill Valley, CA 94942
Telephone: (800) 726-2070
Web site: http://www.healthy.net/agi/index_explorer.html
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.