Lyn W. Freeman
Imagery is the foundation of mind-body medicine. It is the essential and activating element in the clinical use of relaxation therapy, meditation, biofeedback, and hypnosis. Imogery, in the forms of placebo and event-interpretation. also affects quality of life and health outcomes every day.
The effective incorporation of imagery into any intervention requires that the clinician have a thorough understanding of the way the body functions in relation to the health condition being addressed. He or she must also understand the types of imagery used in interventions, how these varying types affect the body biochemically and hormonally, and how to facilitate imagery sessions that are biologically accurate yet represent the individual's personal expressiveness. The effects of imagery are subtle but powerful. This chapter gives the health professional an overview of what must be considered in the effective use of imagery as intervention.
Imagery is the thought process that invokes and uses the senses. These include vision, sound, smell, and taste, and the senses of movement, position, and touch. Virtually nothing exists in our experience that we do not image in some way, and those images con produce physiologic, biochemical, and immunologic changes in the body that affect health outcomes.
Most typically, when imagery procedures ore used for clinical or experimental purposes, they fall into one of three categories : diagnostic imagery, mental rehearsal imagery, and end-state imagery. These forms and their combined clinical uses are described in this chapter.
imagery has been found beneficial in the treatment of eczema, acne, diabetes, breast cancer, arthritis, migraine and tension headaches, and severe burns. imagery has also been used as treatment to improve lactation in mothers of premature infants, to increase coping skills with birth pain, and as intervention with anticipatory grief.
Research strongly suggests that imagery is capable of altering specific immune parameters, hormonal responses, and immune cell migration. Further, imagery assessment tools have been used to assess treatment for cancer, spinal pain, and diabetes and have been proven highly accurate as predictors of treatment outcomes. Imogery is the foundation of mind-body medicine. It is a powerful tool that, when used effectively, can assist in healing the mind, body, and spirit.