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Interactive guided imagery is a therapeutic tool used to explore the potential for healing by utilizing the mind-body connection. It is an extension of guided imagery that also involves progressive relaxation techniques to achieve communication with the inner consciousness. However, as a healing tool, interactive guided imagery allows the subject to accept responsibility for and actively participate in his or her own well-being.
Imagery has long been recognized as the first form of communication. Long before the spoken word, imagery was used to generate symbols to represent thought and express ideas. Interactive guided imagery strives to tap into the unconscious mind from which these images or symbols stem. The goal of the practitioner is to enable the patient to gain insight into their current state of health. It is the goal of interactive guided imagery to open a dialogue between the body and the mind to obtain such insight.
While interactive guided imagery may sound like a new age fad to some, there is scientific evidence to support it. In fact, research has demonstrated that images, whether produced from guided imagery or unconscious imagery, has significant physiological impact. For example, studies have shown that imagery may promote healing by stimulating a response from the immune system. Similar studies suggest that guided imagery may positively affect the endocrine and nervous systems as well.
Unlike some forms of cognitive therapy, interactive guided imagery does not attempt to alter or improve the images that the mind creates. Instead, the aim is to uncover the meaning of the image or symbol and its relationship to the body. The patient may be asked to give this image a voice in order to hear what message it has to offer. By doing so, the patient is encouraged to listen to his or her innate body wisdom to discover what steps to take to initiate the healing process.
Interactive guided imagery has a wide range of therapeutic applications. It is used as a complimentary treatment for many chronic diseases, including immune disorders and cancer. Interactive guided imagery is also used to help break through psychological barriers created by trauma experienced by survivors of abuse or a natural disaster. In addition, the technique has proved to be beneficial in helping patients to overcome stress, depression, or recover from addiction.