This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Although you can learn guided imagery techniques on your own from books, it is best to work with a practitioner or purchase an audiotape dealing with the issue important to you. If you're a creative individual, you can write your own guided imagery script, read it onto a tape, and then use the tape as your guiding tool. If you work with a practitioner, it will probably take only a couple of sessions to learn a technique that works well for you. The sessions may be as short as 30 minutes or as long as 90 minutes. It will speed the process considerably if your practitioner allows you to tape the session for home use.
During the first session, the practitioner (who may be a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or psychologist) will take your medical history and ask you why you want to use guided imagery. The practitioner will probably ask you questions about your favorite vacation spots and times of year, and about experiences that have made you feel confident and secure. Your answers will help you and the practitioner develop images that make you feel good.
Next, the practitioner will ask you to lie on a couch or sit in a chair. You will want to wear comfortable clothing and may want to take off your shoes.
Once you're settled in, the practitioner will lead you through a breathing exercise or relaxation technique. Then, the practitioner will guide you through a visualization exercise, using all five senses and perhaps focusing on a special place where you usually feel happy and peaceful. The practitioner may suggest some ideas, but will leave most of the imagining up to you. The best images are the ones you conjure up yourself because they have personal meaning for you.
With practice, you will be able to bring up healing images quickly--anytime, anywhere. You'll be able to use guided imagery to help yourself relax during stressful moments, as well as to treat a particular health problem.