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Monthly Archives: October 2009

  1. Guided Imagery and Other Practices

    Guided Imagery is a kind of deliberate, directed daydreaming that uses soothing music and narrative to evoke multisensory memory, symbol and fantasy. This combination gently guides the overactive mind into a relaxed, immersive state of healing reverie. It works easily and powerfully for most people, and doesn’t require much from them – just some basic imagination. Many people who have trouble meditating or relaxing do really well with guided imagery.

     Tips for Guided Imagery:

    • Listening once or twice a day for several weeks makes a difference.
    • Imagery involves using all of your senses, not just visualizing.
    • The best times to listen are when waking up and falling asleep.
    • Even if you keep falling asleep while listening, you still benefit.
    • Imagery that evokes emotion and sensation has more impact.
    • You don’t have to believe in its impact for it to work.
    • The more you use imagery, the better at it you get.
    • Guided imagery works even better in a group than alone.
    • Imagery doesn’t compete with other forms of treatment.


    Hypnosis is a way of accessing an altered or “trance” state for healing, and uses imagery or verbal suggestion after an initial “induction” that helps quiet the thinking brain and encourage reverie. The language is usually more directive and less choiceful than imagery, and some people prefer it that way. Imagery is actually a kind of hypnosis, and people who respond well to imagery generally do well with hypnosis too. Research shows that they are both very effective.

    Meditation and Breathwork train us to focus our minds on something very specific and narrow, and thus help us clear the decks of thought-clutter. Mindfulness meditation has us continuously observe and release our thoughts, our breath, our sensations and our feelings, in order to provide us with healthy detachment from our own reactions and an astonishing ability to handle stress. Other kinds of meditation have us focus on counting our breaths or repeating a simple phrase (mantra) or watching a flame or even a spot on the wall. For people who like quiet and stillness, or who have trouble imagining things, meditation is preferable to imagery. But, unlike imagery, it takes discipline and practice to use it effectively. Research shows that meditation is highly effective, too.

    Yoga and Qigong (pronounced “chi gung”) are both forms of moving meditation. Yoga involves focused awareness and conscious breathing while stretching into specific poses (asanas). Qigong involves moving in prescribed, flowing ways with great awareness, while focusing on imagery and the breath. Both are deeply relaxing and very powerful healing tools, and they are especially good for fidgeters who loathe sitting still. In addition, the movements themselves tone muscle, build strength and enhance immunity.

    Of course, most of the superb, carefully chosen titles available at the Health Journeys web site use more than just one approach. By combining two or more of these synergistic resources, with their varying styles and methods, you can catalyze even stronger benefits for yourself. The gifted practitioners collaborate beautifully with each other, and more importantly, with you.

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  2. Prayer & Cancer Imagery Get This Woman Through Treatment

    We recently got this over-the-top enthusing over our Cancer imagery, showing how supportive a simple technique like guided imagery can be for reducing passive helplessness and giving some control back …,
     
    This is the most wonderful CD ever. I was diagnosed with breast cancer right after my lovely daughter graduated from college. What a week of extreme joy, to the depths of despair!

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  3. Does Reiki Work Well with Guided Imagery?

    Question:
    Someone told me that you recently mentioned using guided imagery and Reiki together. I am very much interested in this as I am a Reiki Practitioner/Master. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and any suggestions. Is there anything available I can use as a guide?
    Tonya

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  4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Yields Less Recurrence of Winter Depression than Light Therapy

    Researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Vermont in Burlington looked at the recurrence of SAD (seasonal affective disorder or depression) in the fall/winter, one year after receiving cognitive behavioral treatment.

    The investigators had previously developed a group cognitive-behavioral therapy approach (CBT) specifically targeted for SAD and tested its efficacy in 2 pilot studies that compared outcomes with light therapy.

    This study examines impact during the subsequent winter season (approximately 1 year after acute treatment), following participants randomized to CBT, light therapy, and a combination of both treatments.  (N=69).

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  5. It’s That Time Again: 7 Tips for Seasonal Depression

    Hello, again.
    I remember from my 33 years of clinical practice that it’s right around now that the light starts to change and seasonal depression sets in.  Starting around Halloween, therapists become overbooked, their schedules bursting at the seams with new appointments and people coming back for a “tune-up”, not feeling so hot all of a sudden.

    So, this might be a good time to run some tips by you for dealing with depression during this vulnerable time for so many.  And let me just say at the outset that I really do understand that depression, by definition, drains your energy, motivation and sense of hope and efficacy, so you’re not exactly in the mood to follow tips. I get that. Try to do a little of this and that anyway.  If you keep at it, the gains can become cumulative and effective over time.  Okay, here goes:

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  6. Belleruth Naparstek, LISW, BCD

    Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular, 55-title, Time Warner Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her first book, Staying Well with Guided Imagery (Warner) is a widely used primer on imagery and healing. Her second book, Your Sixth Sense (Harper Collins) has been translated into 9 languages, with a new 2009 edition just released. 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 and was released in paperback January of 2006. Highlighted in their 20th anniversary edition of their seminal book, Courage to Heal, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis call Invisible Heroes “the most useful book for trauma survivors to be published in the last decade”.

    As Prevention Magazine recently noted, Belleruth has been quietly creating an underground revolution among mainstream health and mental health bureaucracies, by persuading major institutions such as the U.S. Veteran’s Administration, the U.S. Dept of Defense, The American Red Cross, Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California, United Health Care, Oxford Health Plan, GlaxoSmithKline, Ortho Biotech, Roche, Abbott, Amgen, and nearly 2000 hospitals, mental health centers, recovery clinics and vet centers to distribute her guided imagery recordings, in most instances free of charge to recipients.

    In addition, her audio programs have been involved in over two dozen clinical trials, with nearly a dozen studies completed to date. Efficacy has been established for several psychological and medical challenges, most recently for PTSD at Duke University Medical Center/Durham Veterans Administration Hospital.  

    Naparstek received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago. She maintained her psychotherapy practice for over 30 years and for several years taught graduate students at The Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University.  Earlier in her career, she supervised psychiatry residents at Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School and was Chief of Consultation & Education at the Woodburn Center for Community Mental Health in Fairfax County, VA. She also did a brief stint as a musical comedy actress at Second City and The Tip Top Tap of the Allerton Hotel in Chicago, and says that her musical comedy skills sometimes come in handy for teaching.

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  7. Space of Grace: Healing Breast Cancer

    The multi-talented Margaret Dubay Mikus shares her poetry in her inspiring new blog, Space of Grace.

    Twice I have had breast cancer, in 1996 and in 2007. I learned a great deal about healing body, mind, emotions, and spirit. And each time I was cracked open--in a good way--breaking through old defenses, encouraging me to bloom. Even my relationships were healed. Writing saved me, allowing me to access inner wisdom about my healing process. This poetic journal, begun after healing from MS in 1995, continues still.

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  8. Imagery Found Great for Kids with Functional Tummy Pain

    Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill developed and tested a user-friendly, inexpensive, home-based, guided imagery audio protocol for children with functional abdominal pain and found it much more effective than treatment as usual.

    Thirty-four children, 6 to 15 years of age, with a physician diagnosis of functional abdominal pain, were assigned randomly to receive 2 months of standard medical care with or without home-based, guided imagery treatment.

    Children who received only standard medical care initially received guided imagery treatment after 2 months. Children were monitored for 6 months after completion of guided imagery treatment.

    Subjects found the treatment materials self-explanatory, enjoyable, and easy to understand and use. The compliance rate was high at 98.5%.

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  9. Modifying CISD So As Not to Re-traumatize Survivors

    Question:

    Dear Belleruth,

    I am a professional counselor (LMFT) who has been involved with Trauma and Critical Incidents of all types since 1987.  Early on I was trained in the Mitchell model of CISD [Ed. Note: This is Critical Incident Stress Debriefing].  I currently respond to these types of incidents on behalf of EAP providers who continue to value the CISD model.  

    My observation of this model is that it has some effectiveness in the short-term.  Many people have commented on the improvement they have felt after completing the debriefing process.

    However, I am now faced with evidence--most recently re-discovered on your Not Alone page - that talking about the incident, particularly immediately following the event may not only not be helpful but could re-traumatize the participants.

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  10. On the Road Again… Goodbye Chicago & Providence; Hello D.C. & Hilton Head!

    Well, on November 6-8 in Alexandria, VA, The ConferenceWorks! is offering one final weekend of my workshop for cancer survivors, their friends, family and professional caregivers, called  Gifts of the Imagination: Surviving and Thriving Beyond Cancer.

    It’s for anyone touched by cancer: patients, survivors in remission, relatives, friends and colleagues; and there’s 9 continuing education credit hours for most categories of professional caregivers.  We get a lot of docs, nurses, social workers, pastors, counselors, psychologists, massage therapists, marriage & family therapists, PT, OT, Art therapists, yoga therapists, Reiki and Healing Touch practitioners, coaches… well, you get the idea. 

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