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Belleruth Naparstek

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.

Researchers from Walden University in Minneapolis conducted a randomized, controlled study to assess the impact of a yoga intervention on the psychological health of older adults.

Subjects were 98 older adults, ages 65 to 92, randomly assigned to 6 weeks of either chair yoga, chair exercise or a control group condition. They were assessed pre-and post-intervention, and at one month follow-up on their anger, anxiety, depression, morale and self-efficacy.

I'm a Minnesota clinical psychologist with specialized training in treating complex trauma (EMDR, TFT and Somatic Experiencing). Most of my clients are adults who were abused or neglected as children. I recently began getting referrals from a battered women's shelter.

It's been challenging on many levels, not the least of which is worry over my clients' physical safety. I'm a big guy, and nothing would please me more than to clock the psychopaths who stalk and terrify my clients, but providing full-time protection services is not my job description.

We got this query from a certified hypnotherapist working in an addiction house for men. She's been creating her own guided imagery to help with stress reduction and self-esteem. Not surprisingly, the men have histories of abuse and trauma along with chemical dependency. Here is her question:


Greetings, BR. I am a certified Hypnotherapist working in an addiction house for men.

I use guided imagery for stress reduction and self love. The gentlemen have been abused, addicted to drugs and or alcohol and other unfortunate things.

I make up my own imageries but could use some helpful ideas. Is there a book you'd suggest for ideas on the subject? The feedback has been gratifying, my intentions are for their hearts to heal and bodies to follow.

My resources are limited and I could use some references. Perhaps you've written something I could use or you have an idea of something helpful. Your reply is appreciated greatly.


Well, folks, among other things, it's National Caregiver Month. (Yes, I know, too many of these special, topic driven 'days', 'weeks' and 'months' can addle the brain. Who can keep up? Who even wants to?)

But sometimes – like this time, National Caregiver Month - it's a really good idea. I know so many people taking care of a loved one (and even a not-so-loved one, truth be told!) in rough circumstances. It's a mother, a spouse, a child or a friend – who's sick with acute or chronic disease; or who's disabled, demented, or depressed.

And these responsible, unstinting caregivers do the right thing and look after them, day after day, with kindness and care; and a lot of time, effort and energy. It's usually at considerable personal cost.

I recently had to consult the stats on our best-selling guided imagery audios for another retailer. I was really surprised at how much people's preferences had shifted around – from even a few years ago, back when Weight Loss was king!

So, forgive me for sounding like Casey Kasem the American Top 40 Countdown of golden oldies on the radio, but this is kind of fun. See if you can guess, going from Number 10 down to the Number One Top Hit on the HJ charts.

It doesn't always happen, but when guided imagery works for a trauma survivor, it really works. We hear a lot from people who have benefited, and it always makes the whole HJ team feel really good.

One of the most touching thank you's BR has ever gotten just got posted last week on our blog, from "Wiser Now", a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, who was really able to respond to this method.

Belleruth says it's a wonderful thing to be able to help someone from afar, unbeknownst even to your own self, when you didn't even physically show up! That's truly the miracle of a digital intervention.

I'm looking for a CD to help me deal with chronic insomnia & anxiety. I was referred to you by my therapist, whose CD's I like very much, but she moves too fast to allow me to get into the groove and benefit fully from the meditations and exercises.

I have tried Jack Cornfield (sic) and Jon Cabat-Zinn (sic). They have been helpful, but too much talking gets in the way of my own process.

I need some SLOW progressive relaxations and SLOW meditations that allow the listener to develop her own imagery and process, rather than to be directed into an overly scripted experience.

Can you, or anyone else, send me some new suggestions?


In a phone interview survey, researchers from Bastyr University assessed the prevalence and use of integrative medicine techniques (or CAM – complementary and alternative medicine) by hospices in the state of Washington.

The response rate was 100%. Results indicated that 86% of Washington State hospices offered CAM services to their patients.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. As it happens, I just led a retreat for the wonderful staff of Hospice of the Western Reserve a couple weeks ago. The setting was gorgeous, healing in its own right – Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland, Ohio.

I was asked to speak by Stephen Adams, a gifted, gentle pastor and Reiki practitioner I've known for years. He wanted to make sure everyone knew about the healing power of guided imagery for their patients and families, and also for themselves. The work these professional caregivers do can be incredibly gratifying and uplifting, but it's difficult, too, because, of course, they carry around a lot of their own accrued grief and loss.

Lori Alviso Alvord MD, the first Navajo woman to be board certified in surgery, according to a recent article in the East Valley Tribune, is Chief of Surgery at Banner Health Page Hospital in Page, Arizona, and associate faculty at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

She speaks about the importance of ceremony, which she frames as an elaborate form of mind-body medicine, that works at many levels and coheres mind, body and spirit. She says that ceremony mainly heals the mind, which then helps to heal the body. Critical elements in ceremony are chanting, prayer, song, dance and guided imagery.

And also critical element in her thinking and culture is that ceremony doesn't just heal individuals, but also heals the community and the planet, because it emphasizes interconnectivity of all things, and we can't heal in a vacuum.

Hats off to Dr. Alviso Alvord! You can learn more about her in the East Valley Tribune.

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