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Differences in relaxation by means of guided imagery in a healthy community sample.

14 Jul

Researchers from the Department of Health Promotion and Human Behavior at Kyoto University Graduate School of Public Health in Japan investigated differences in relaxation induced by guided imagery in healthy community samples.

One hundred forty-eight people took part in the study, with the mean age of the 50 males and 98 females 39.36 +/- 11.86 years. Saliva samples were taken to measure salivary cortisol (SC) before the first session, after the first session, and after the second session. In addition, subjects were asked to complete the short form of the Multiple Mood Scale (MMS) questionnaire before the first session and after the second session. The shortened form of Betts'' Questionnaire upon Mental Imagery (QMI) was collected once before the first session, and vividness of the imagery was measured using a visual analogue scale once after the second session.

Salivary cortisol levels were significantly decreased after the first session and after the second session in all participants. Most significantly, age and QMI scores were strongly related to changes in SC level throughout the relaxation sessions.

The researchers concluded that imagery replaces unpleasant information, a cause of mental stress, with a comfortable image, and this replacement affects a participant''s SC level. The greater one''s imagery ability is, the more successful the displacement of stress and the shift toward a comfortable mental and emotional state. This is offered as a basis for explaining the mechanism through which relaxation by means of guided imagery is effective in reducing stress.

Citation: Watanabe E, Fukuda S, Hara H, Maeda Y, Ohira H, Shirakawa T.Differences in relaxation by means of guided imagery in a healthy community sample. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2006 Mar-Apr; 12 (2): pages 60-6.
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