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What is Guided Imagery and Self-Hypnosis?

Why This Works

Frequently Asked Questions

Common Myths or Misconceptions

Why the Tools Were Developed

Guide for Use of Tapes/CDs

Understanding Guided Imagery,
Visualization & Self-Hypnosis

    The following information is provided to increase your understanding of the process of guided imagery, visualization, and self-hypnosis; to give you basic knowledge about what you might accomplish with these valuable skills, and how you might apply these techniques ("tools") to a variety of desired personal changes and goals; and last, to clarify a common misconception about the experience of guided imagery and self-hypnosis.

Many people are curious and intrigued, yet perhaps hesitant or skeptical, about the process of guided imagery for visualization and self-hypnosis, and my intent is to demystify the experience and to make the skills of visualization and self-hypnosis through guided imagery accessible and available to you. In my clinical therapy practice, I have repeatedly found it to be a very positive, effective, often rapid, and lasting, tool for accomplishing desired changes and for achieving real steps toward short and long-term goals. Further, the changes which take place occur at different, and perhaps deeper, more sustained level than often are achieved through "rational thinking" skills (analysis and logic) alone. With practice, most find that the positive effects can even be accelerated and deepened.

Some of my clients, those previously unfamiliar with guided imagery or self-hypnosis, have wondered if they would have the ability to participate in, to learn, and actively use these skills - questioning, “Can I really do this, am I ‘hypnotizable’?” First, let me reassure you that this is not a performance on your part, it is in fact a very private experience in which no one, but you, will know what occurs and what benefits are derived. The instructional recordings are carefully designed to provide a beneficial, personal learning experience that is comfortable, interesting and very positive in nature. Second, to further reassure you, it requires only the use of your own imagination in focusing on visual pictures or ideas in your mind aided by the guiding words of the recordings and, therefore, everyone has the capacity, in varying degrees, to benefit from guided imagery and self-hypnosis.

What is the process like? You will simply be concentrating upon some images and ideas that you have identified as being important to you as you listen to the instructional tape or CD, concentrating just as you would when watching a movie that captivates you, or when reading a book of great interest. You become immersed in and completely focused upon the inner experiences being generated by that “stimulus” material - whether it be a movie, a book, or a taped recording. While you are still aware of “where you are” and the everyday activities surrounding you, those everyday things recede into the background and no longer distract you, and time seems to be suspended, because you are fully absorbed in the enjoyable experience you are attending to. It is much the same with the experience of visualization and self-hypnosis through guided imagery.

It is important to know that guided imagery for self-hypnosis is not a procedure of someone else hypnotizing you in order to change you, irrespective of your will; instead, it is a process by which you learn to effectively concentrate mentally while relaxing physically, so that you can draw upon all of your mind’s inner resources, at both a conscious and subconscious level, in order for you to create the changes and achieve the goals you choose.

These desired, positive changes and goals may include, but are not limited to:

  • mental and physical deep relaxation;
  • reduction of stress/worry/anxiety;
  • movement out of mild to moderate depression;
  • emotional strengthening, cleansing, and renewal;
  • behavioral pattern and lifestyle changes, such as, sustaining regular exercising, smoking cessation, control of eating patterns;
  • weight reduction and weight management;
  • pain management;
  • self-motivation and confidence-building for goal attainment

Before having personally experienced guided imagery and self-hypnosis for themselves, some people are understandably concerned that somehow they will be relinquishing control over their thoughts and behaviors, that they might “lose conscious awareness” of their surroundings or of themselves. This is one of the primary myths or misconceptions about the process and experience of self-hypnosis for -- in fact, through the process of self-hypnosis, you actually gain more control in managing, changing, and selectively strengthening your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that you want to keep, and in decreasing those that you want to eliminate…. in effect, purposefully reducing negatives and enhancing positives. You do not “lose” consciousness – to the contrary, you are actively concentrating with heightened awareness upon meaningful internal images and ideas, prompted by the guided imagery, while still remaining conscious of your external environment.

To summarize, essentially during the guided imagery and self-hypnosis experience, you are very alert to and aware of your own inner experience; it becomes your focus of concentration, and so you are in a position to positively and constructively influence and implement the personal changes and goals you desire, more directly and effectively than you have before. Thus, as you learn the techniques of guided imagery, visualization, and self-hypnosis, through simply listening to the recordings, you will be relying only on your own inner resources; this is not dependent upon anyone or anything else “to make it work”. Once you have acquired the skills through listening and practice, you possess powerful tools to use creatively for any personal change or goal you might select. The possibilities are unlimited.

For more information on the process of guided imagery and self-hypnosis, how and why it works, frequently asked questions, common myths and misconceptions, or listing of instructional guided imagery and self-hypnosis audiotape/CD titles, choose any of the following links:

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