1. What is guided imagery?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Guided imagery is a method of creating images in the mind (sights, sounds, feelings) that direct the body to increase physical and emotional healing.
A powerful form of mind/body medicine is now helping American children cope with conditions ranging from traumatic stress, performance anxiety to terminal illness. It is routinely employed in pediatric settings and therapist’s offices, even in some schools, yet most parents have little idea what it is or how it works. The technique known as guided imagery or visualization involves the systematic use of relaxation exercises and positive mental images that can enable kids to feel better accomplish more and, according to recent studies heal faster from illness and injury. Children readily use their imaginations making them ideal candidates for this therapy. Guided imagery is meant to help you discover and use your own inherent resources.
2. Why is guided imagery an effective technique for stress reduction and health promotion?
For over fifteen years, researchers in psychoneuroimmunology have studied and reported the effects of emotions and mental images on the functions of the body. With or without biofeedback monitored evidence, mental images can raise and lower body temperatures, secrete hormones, relax muscles and nerve endings, dilate and restrict arteries, raise and lower pulse rates and influence the immune system.
Positive images activate neurobiological pathways which send electrical and chemical impulses to specific cells in the body where they trigger healing and immune response.
Music is sound and although the ear is still given credit as the major pathway for aural processing, there is a great deal of evidence that the entire body is sensitive to sound. All the cells in our body have vibratory properties and hence are capable of being sound receptors.
Combined these are an effective tool which strongly emphasizes that you can help heal yourself, that you can gain confidence and improve your well being.
3. How does guided imagery work to effect healing?
Images held in the mind’s eye can and do effect the physiology of the body. The brain makes no distinction between real or imagined information. For example, picturing something frightening can send the body into the flight or stress response while images of tranquility, hope, peace and happiness elicits the relaxation response, which is the completely reversed response of the stress response. It lowers blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, muscle tension, your overall metabolic rate is slowed down.
4. What are the benefits (immediate vs. long term)?
To offset tremendous stresses to their everyday lives and to prevent the emergence of serious problems later on, children must be taught coping and problem solving skills at an early age.
MindWorks for Children Guided Imagery cultivate a positive mental attitude, which energizes and uplifts while teaching cognitive strategies. These programs foster healthy self esteem which cures depression and poor self concept.
1. Increases children's ability to cope with stressful situations
2. Effects Bio-physical changes and symptom relief
3. Restores an optimistic outlook on their well-being
4. Develops positive self-image and self-esteem
5. Encourages their creative thinking
6. Taps into their imagination as a viable tool for healing
7. Engages the “inner most” self, their greatest source of healing
5. How often should I practice my imagery, and for how long?
Practice everyday at the same time, either in the afternoon or right before bed. Try to listen to the entire tape. It takes about twenty minutes for each side. Hitch this new habit to an old habit. For example, if you always brush your teeth and comb your hair before bed, listen to your recording after you brush your teeth and comb your hair. This is a good way to reinforce your new health habit. Consistency is more important than duration.
6. When is guided imagery most successful?
Is there a best time to practice these techniques?
Yes. There are three optimal times to practices guided imagery relaxation techniques.
1. In the late afternoon when the world is shifting gears. Our minds and bodies are ready to shift gears also. Sitting on the couch with your youngster or children, holding them in your lap or just stroking them on their heads or rubbing their backs, feet, or hands sets the tone for listening together and creating quality loving time.
2. Right before bed is a good time because children are winding down from their day. They are receptive to an audio tape or CD because when the lights go out and the eyes close, the eyes close, the imagination lights up. Listening is the key to receiving the suggestions on the tapes.
3. First thing in the morning for a parent is ideal time to use the MindWorks series because our brains have not gotten cluttered with worry thoughts or the ‘to do’ list for the day. In this state of dreamy awareness your body is most receptive to an extended mini conscious relaxation response and believe it or not, it is an effective time to give your body the extra restoration it needs.
Is there anytime when it is best to avoid using guided imagery techniques?
Yes. Avoid practicing guided imagery immediately after eating because the relaxation exercises lower the metabolic rate needed for digestion.
7. Where should my child practice listening to the audio programs?
The following are guidelines for setting the conditions for conscious relaxation exercises.
1. Choose A Quiet Space. Have the child find a location that will be their special place to relax, any time they want to have cozy, calm feelings (similar to a designated reading corner in school, or using a blanket or stuffed animal corner in a bedroom.) Creating a pleasant environment that is free from distractions, especially telephones, television or radio which helps to bring about relaxation. The child quickly comes to associate good feelings with this time and place.
2. Gently Stretch And Then Settle Into a Comfortable Position. Start with slow movements to work out energy, progressing to stretching to give circulation to the body. Then ask the child to get into a comfortable position sitting or lying down. You may want to set aside familiar mats, pillows or objects.
3. Just Listen. The key to success is having a mental focus. The child will be guided through a series of exercises in relaxation, imagery and body awareness.
4. Establish Regular Practice. Consistency is the key to affecting change. Choose one theme at a time, and play it daily for several weeks, for example, just before naptime or in bed each night. Avoid using the tapes immediately after eating because the relaxation exercises lower the metabolic rate needed for digestion.
5. Use Your Imagination. Explore other ways for children to enjoy the benefits of the tapes. After using the relaxation and imaging techniques, creative expression is at its peak. This is a good time to ask the child to make up a story or poem, or to dance or paint, for example.
8. Clinical evidence to support claims — e.g., who is using it
There are many scientific studies demonstrating the effectiveness of the relaxation response on the physiology. These studies show decrease in pain and increase in the immune response for cancer patients, as well as, enhanced well being. The reason is because shifting gears from the fight or flight response to relaxation response helps the body turn the volume down on the autonomic nervous system, taking it out of high gear and returning it to normal. This allows the body/mind to recuperate from harmful effects of stress and regain natural ability to cope with additional stress. Stanford University Children's Hospital has studied and reported a "Diagnosis Index Guideline" matching MindWorks for Children audio programs with various illnesses and conditions.1
1 Durham, Eileen and Patricia Frost-Hartzer. "Relaxation Therapy for Children and Families." Maternal Child Nursing Jul/Aug 1994,19,4:222.
9. What are some of the factors that affect children and/or families today?
Feeling overwhelmed / Not fitting in / Low self esteem
Competitive Stress / Sports
Serious Family Illness
College Prep Exams
Divorce / Divorced Parents
Impact of Technology
Faster pace in the world
News Media in daily lives
Parents wanting their children to be like them
10. What are the warning signs of stress in children?
Inability to Focus or Concentrate
Abrupt changes in behavior
Angry / Impulsive Behavior
Lack of Motivation
Disobedient / Disrespectful
Disturbances in sleeping / eating
Migraines / Headaches
Changes in Social Relationships
Drop in School Grades
Persistent Fatigue or Listlessness
Poor Personal Hygiene – Hair / Teeth / Nails / Clothes
Secrecy – Alcohol or drug abuse
11. How do I know which tape is appropriate for which age?
All audio programs are designed for adult enjoyment and effectiveness while fostering quality time with your child. The following is an approximate guide to help you in selecting a tape for your child:
|Age ||Years of Age||Audio Title / Topic|
|Pre-school - ||Infant – 5 Years||Wanka, The Caring Elephant (Caring)|
Magic Seed (Courage)
|Early School -|
Middle School -
|6 – 8 Years|
9 – 12 Years
|The Star Within (Self Esteem)|
The Healing Heart (Comfort)
Energy and Me (Relaxation)
Good Night (Sleep Well)
MindWorks for Children Series (4 set) From a Grain of Sand (Happiness)
|Adolescence to Adult -||13 – and Up||The Way of the Bear (Harmony)|
The Way of the Leaf (Acceptance)