What Is Guided Imagery Most Commonly Used For, What Are Its Benefits?

Daniel Monti, M.D., Jefferson

Question: What is guided imagery most commonly used for, what are its benefits, and how good is the scientific evidence for it as a treatment?

Answer: Guided imagery is a generic term that refers to a wide variety of techniques that utilize the cognitive processes of imagination. Imagery can be a component of meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback, and there are some psychotherapy techniques that utilize imagery to get at unconscious processes. Guided imagery is best considered in the context of one of these approaches first as a standalone technique. There also is a laymen's use of the term "guided imagery" to refer to focused imagination techniques and affirmations to achieve desired goals. But in such cases, the imagery is being used outside of a recognized treatment system, and it is less clear what the effects of such an approach might have.

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