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Monthly Archives: September 2011

  1. Pointers for the Bereaved and Their Well-Meaning Friends

    Hello again.  We’ve gotten quite a few requests for us to again post our guide for the bereaved (and their well-meaning friends).  Here it is.  Please feel free to add your own insights and suggestions to the list.

    If you’re grieving:
    • Take care of your energy. Rest. Don’t overdo. You’ll be more fatigued than usual, and you can make yourself vulnerable to illness during this time if you don’t. So pick and choose priorities, and treat yourself gently and well.

    •  Pay attention to what you feel like doing and what you don’t feel like doing, and, if it’s not too outrageous or expensive, follow suit.
    Read more »
  2. Can Guided Imagery Work Just a Day or Two Before Surgery?

    Dear Belleruth and Health Journeys:

    I am interested in conducting research at my facility using your surgery audio program. How long prior to the patients scheduled surgery should the patient start listening to the guided imagery? Is there any evidence of its effectiveness if the patient only starts using it a day or two prior to surgery? Thanks.

    John P.

    Read more »
  3. When Words Heal: Writing Through Cancer

    We found this terrific biographical essay by Sharon Bray in the monthly enews from Healing Journeys, a non-profit organization that works to support healing, activate hope and promote thriving in people touched by cancer.  If you want to subscribe, click here: It’s free and always worth reading.

    Writing It Out
    by Sharon Bray
    Nearly twelve years ago, I sat in a surgeon’s office, feet twitching with impatience. I checked my watch. I’d waited twenty minutes. If he didn’t appear soon, I was going to be late for the meeting I’d scheduled nearby. I reached for a magazine. National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, an old issue of People. Nothing of interest. I sighed and check my watch again. 

    “Hello, Sharon.” The doctor came into the room, a file in his hand. I smiled.
    “Hi, Dr. C.” My eyes darted to the file and back to his face. I felt a flicker of
    unease. “So? What’s the verdict?”

    Read more »
  4. Findings Run Counter to Studies re Guided Imagery for Stroke Rehab

    Researchers from Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, conducted a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate the therapeutic benefit of mental practice with motor imagery in stroke patients with persistent upper limb motor weakness.
    Recent studies have suggested that mental rehearsal of movement can produce effects normally attributed to practicing the actual movements. Imagining hand movements could stimulate restitution and redistribution of brain activity, which accompanies recovery of hand function, thus resulting in a reduced motor deficit. Current efficacy evidence for mental practice with motor imagery in stroke is insufficient due to methodological limitations.

    Read more »
  5. Reunions with People, Places, Times, Self

    Hello again.

    I hope you’ll check out this week’s Hot Research page – it’s interesting in that the findings run counter to what a whole spate of recent studies have been showing about the efficacy of guided imagery for stroke rehabilitation.  I’d love to know more about the kind of guided imagery that was used in this study, and the protocol in general.  I’ll post that info as soon as I can go over the full article.

    Read more »
  6. Smooching at Gate C22, Portland Airport

    This earthy, joyous poem is classic Ellen Bass, squeezing all the yummy, unnoticed juice out of everyday life and offering it up to us as a gift.  I think it will make you smile.  Please enjoy.  It’s from her latest collection of poems, The Human Line.

    If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Ellen Bass co-wrote that great classic, Courage to Heal, with the gifted writer and teacher of writing, Laura Davis.  

    Gate C22

    At gate C22 in the Portland airport
    a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed
    a woman arriving from Orange County.
    They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after
    the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons
    and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,
    the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other
    like he'd just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island,
    like she'd been released at last from ICU, snapped
    out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down
    from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.

    Neither of them was young. His beard was gray.
    She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine
    her saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavish
    kisses like the ocean in the early morning,
    the way it gathers and swells, sucking
    each rock under, swallowing it
    again and again. We were all watching--
    passengers waiting for the delayed flight
    to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,
    the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling
    sunglasses. We couldn't look away. We could
    taste the kisses crushed in our mouths.

    But the best part was his face. When he drew back
    and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost
    as though he were a mother still open from giving birth,
    as your mother must have looked at you, no matter
    what happened after--if she beat you or left you or
    you're lonely now--you once lay there, the vernix
    not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you
    as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.
    The whole wing of the airport hushed,
    all of us trying to slip into that woman's middle-aged body,
    her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,
    little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.

    Read more »
  7. Healing the Feeling of Being Contaminated in Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

    Clinicians from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany evaluated the feasibility and efficacy of a process called Cognitive Restructuing and Imagery Modification (CRIM), which combines cognitive interventions with imagery in a 2-session treatment to reduce the distressing feeling of being contaminated experienced by adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
    The team consecutively treated 9 women suffering from chronic CSA-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) plus the feelings of being contaminated. Ratings regarding intensity, vividness, and uncontrollability of this feeling, and related distress as well as the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS) were administered prior to (t0), post (t1), and six weeks after (t2) treatment.

    Read more »
  8. An O.T. Asks about Using Guided Imagery for Stroke Rehab Patients


    I am an occupational therapist working with elders who have suffered a stroke. I am interested in incorporating your stroke CD in my treatment. While I have used your guided imagery CDs myself and found them very helpful, I'm wondering whether there are any precautions I should be aware of prior to using them with my patients.

    Thanks for your response, and for your important work!


    Dear Daria,

    There are no special counter-indications for stroke patients that I’m aware of or that have ever been reported to me.  One consideration, however, is that some of your elderly patients may suffer from hearing loss - especially in the lower registers – and this could mean they have trouble hearing my voice over the music. It’s something to be alert for.

    The usual orientation should be fine: reminding people to sit comfortably, relax to it, to not try too hard or think too hard about it, but rather just let the images soak in, in an easy, open, receptive way.  Over time, they will take hold below the thinking brain, deep in the body.

    Read more »
  9. Learning to Breathe: The Book that Takes You from Panic to Peace

    A couple of summers ago, I got a “thank you” email from a very charming, funny woman named Priscilla Warner, who kept apologizing for bothering me and reassuring me that she was not a stalker – even though she would very much like to talk to me and give me a present.  (This in and of itself was pretty funny, because I don’t think it occurs to most stalkers to worry that they’ll be seen as stalking.  A true stalker just stalks, unencumbered by insight.)

    Then it got even more amusing, because it turned out that she was writing to thank me for being a calming voice in her ear during her 3-year, 60-city book tour for her very terrific book, The Faith Club – a book I happened to know and admire. So actually, I could just as easily have been stalking her, if there were any stalking to be done.

    Read more »
  10. Mind-Body Interventions for Anxiety during Pregnancy

    Researchers from Université Laval in Quebec, Canada, assessed the benefits of mind-body interventions during pregnancy in preventing or treating women's anxiety and in influencing perinatal outcomes.

    They searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (30 November 2010), MEDLINE (1950 to 30 November 2010), EMBASE (1974 to 30 November 2010), the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) (1 December 2010), (December 2010) and Current Controlled Trials (1 December 2010), as well as searching the reference lists of selected studies and contacting professionals and authors in the field.

    Read more »

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