Sarah Andrews: My Health Journey

Sarah Andrews is a much loved faculty member at Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, who has used guided imagery to train her graduate students and for her own health and well being. Here is the story she told us:

I am on the faculty of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.  We are the ninth ranked school of graduate social work in the country and I have been here part-time since 1990 and full time since 1994. 

I have taught here for 25 years and have spent the last 10 years with an administrative appointment, as well. I teach in areas of social work theory and practice.

I have been teaching Social Work with Death, Grief, and Loss at least once a year since 1994 and have consistently introduced my students to the use of guided imagery and meditation for people who are grieving. 

We discuss the theoretical foundation first, they do reading prior to class, then together we listen to Ease Grief and discuss it afterward. I am happy to say students have often reported back that this introduction enabled them to use guided imagery and meditation in their field education sites and later in subsequent employment. Over a 20 year period I'd estimate over 850 masters-prepared social workers have taken what they learned and experienced out with them into practice.

On a personal note, in 1992 I was diagnosed with Dermatomyositis, a rare autoimmune disorder. I was extremely ill but very fortunate early on to be introduced to the guided imagery for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. Now, I didn't have either disease, but the imagery created was an exact match to what was occurring in my own body. 

I listened to that tape twice a day for a number of years. I could recite it by heart. The good news is that after years of faithful listening and other medical intervention, I healed from the illness and have had no recurrence.

More recently, in the fall of 2013, I was diagnosed with an advanced stage cancer. Subsequent treatment included weeks of radiation and infusion chemotherapy with several serious consequences, one a hospitalization with infected radiation burns. 

Throughout the difficulty of treatment I daily listened (I alternated among them) to Optimizing Chemotherapy, Optimizing Radiation, Fight Cancer, Healthful Sleep and Relaxation and Wellness. I continue to use Relaxation and Wellness, Healthful Sleep, and Healing Trauma regularly and find them all helpful to my healing and well being.

I'll say too that in the past I have used Successful Surgery and found it adaptive to healing well from surgical wounds.  I have also shared this with friends who have found it helpful.

I thank you for your profoundly important work over the years -- especially during those years when naysayers dismissed the work you were doing. My life is better and my healing substantially enhanced through the use of what you have created, and I am forever grateful. 

I will also continue to pass along what I have learned to my students and to encourage them to learn more about this important support and intervention.

Sarah S. Andrews, MA, MSSA, LISW-S
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel
School of Applied Social Sciences
Case Western Reserve University 

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