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Can Guided Imagery Help Women in Prison?

20 Sep

I am a recovering PTSD and substance abuse survivor who now has 1.5 years of sobriety. I have also been nightmare free, relatively panic attack free, and flashback free for about a year, after 15 years of personal hell.

For this, I credit my compassionate and loving therapist most, but I feel the tools you've created and taught have been a Godsend.

Well, with my AA participation, I was asked to tell my story in the woman's prison. Afterwards, a number of the women shared that they too are experiencing nightmares on a daily basis, secondary to chronic abuse.

Now they are incarcerated because they have made mistakes secondary to developing drug and alcohol problems. But, now they are in jail with no means to self-medicate. I could only imagine the Hell that must be. I would be tempted to put a gun to my head if I had to live like that; afraid to go to sleep, not sleeping, exhausted constantly and miserable. There is a reason that sleep deprivation is a form of torture.

My thoughts came round circle to YOU.  I was wondering if we could help these desperate women in any way. Their only resource is the jail psychiatrist who prescribes drugs and they don't like how they make them feel. I recovered drug free.

I have given my personal copy of Invisible Heroes to one of the women. I share my experience, that with dedication and a little scary work, you CAN work through these symptoms.

But, these women are limited in their resources. I wonder if we can develop a program with the correctional facility that could put these tools in the hands of those treating these women.

In closing, I want to thank you for helping save my life. Your tools are invaluable and I now live a wonderful blessed life, filled with sunshine, opportunity and HOPE. When you lay your head down, please know that what you do matters.  I believe you are one of God's angels on earth. Thank you.

Vonda

Dear Vonda,

Thanks so much for your kind words, your inspiring personal story, and your generous concern for the women you met at the prison.  

All of us here at Health Journeys have become very aware of the huge amount of PTSD that can be found in the prisons, and we agree that guided imagery is an ideal tool for the traumatized you've described so beautifully and compassionately.  

Imagery can be a huge help, plus it provides some mental 'escape' from those concrete walls.  We've gotten this query many times before.

We aren't in a position to create whole programs for prisons, but what we can do is send some CDs, as long as there's a staff psychologist or social worker or shrink in there to receive them and get them properly distributed.  

Sometimes we can send them to an actual inmate, (it has to come directly from us in sealed packaging; but sometimes it's seen as potential contraband anyway and gets rejected).

So if you can get this set up in a way that our materials will be received and used by an appropriate staff person, we'll be happy to send some guided imagery for the women's use.  We’ve done it many times before and we’re happy to do so again.

Thanks again for your very kind thoughts, your generous spirit and for caring about these women.  Continued blessings, healing and joy!

Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award