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A therapist asks if she can use guided imagery with a new breast cancer support group she’s starting

27 Feb
A therapist asks if she can use guided imagery with a new breast cancer support group she’s starting in an underserved urban area, and if so which ones would be appropriate?
Dear Belleruth,
I''m starting a primary breast cancer support group for underserved, primarily African-American and some Hispanic patients. I have your book, Staying Well with Guided Imagery . Which imageries would you recommend for this group, which has never been exposed to imagery etc. I often use the depression and spiritual imagery with my private clients.

Pam C.



Dear Pam,
So glad you asked this question. We''ve actually had great success using guided imagery with underserved, urban and multi-ethnic populations. I myself have narrated imagery to African-American community groups, in churches and in cancer and recovery support groups, as well as to groups in Hispanic neighborhoods. In addition, it''s very popular in prisons, where there is, as you know, a greater proportion of inmates coming from urban poverty.

Any of the imagery is OK. Sometimes I tone down the language if I feel there are too many 50-cent words in there, but mostly it doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot. For this group, I’d suggest the
Fight Cancer, Chemo , Radiation other treatment related imagery; and for those finished with treatment, the General Wellness and the Relaxation & Wellness .

The Gathering Place - a center that provides free integrative and holistic therapies and psychological support to anyone touched by cancer, offers support groups specifically designed for African American women, based right in the neighborhood. You might want to contact them directly to get some additional ideas. They’re at http://www.touchedbycancer.org/ .

So please don''t feel that this wonderful technique is biased toward upper middle class people with fancy educations! It''s an equal opportunity intervention that relies more on voice tone, music quality and other right brain avenues than on language and sentence structure (the more class- and education-based elements). People get it, regardless of what socio-economic, racial or ethnic group they belong to!

And P.S.
They probably have been exposed to imagery, by way of prayer and ritual.

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