Guided Imagery helps cancer patients cope with cancer. Recent refinements in the application of Guided Imagery have made the lives of cancer patients much easier to endure.
Several years of studies in the United States, Britain, and Korea, have shown that Stage 1 and Stage 2 breast cancer patients can increase the number of “killer cells” of the body’s own cells that seek and destroy cancer cells, by reducing stress and anxiety.
Patients who used guided imagery in addition to chemotherapy report better quality of life.
The patients who also used guided imagery with progressive muscle relaxation training during six-month courses of chemotherapy had less nausea and were less anxious and depressed. Follow-ups showed the effects of guided imagery lasted months beyond the chemotherapy treatment.
The late Dr. Oscar Carl Simonton, a radiation oncologist, studied the mind-body connection in cancer treatment. He found that advanced breast cancer patients who used guided imagery and had a positive mental outlook tended to survive longer with a better quality of life than those who did not. And patients who received counseling reported a stronger feeling of more control over their bodies and their treatment.
Simonton went so far as to warn against those who say there is no hope, calling them “hazardous to your health”. Later research with similar findings helped push guided imagery into mainstream medicine.
Guided Imagery with a therapist is usually done in sessions that last 20 to 30 minutes. The therapist guides the patient to create mental images that promote relaxation, peace, and safety and may ask a patient to “see” his or her body at war with cancer – and winning.
There are no known risks in the use of guided imagery.
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