Psychophysiological effects of autogenic training and progressive relaxation


Although autogenic training and progressive relaxation are widely used relaxation techniques, little research has been conducted on their comparative effects. Twenty-two normal subjects received five sessions of instruction in either progressive relaxation or autogenic training over a 5-week period. Both types of training, when compared to the control group, significantly decreased SCL-90 scores on four scales: anxiety, depression, number of symptoms, and intensity of symptoms. Also, autogenic training appeared to produce specific effects on self-perception of heaviness and warmth in the limbs and depth of breathing. However, there were no significant differences between groups in pretest versus posttest changes in heart rate or skin conductance. These results are consistent with the results of other recent research on nonanxious individuals in this laboratory.

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Correspondence to Paul M. Lehrer.

Additional information

This report is based on a Master of Science thesis at Rutgers University by the senior author. The research was supported in part by a General Research Support Grant from Rutgers Medical School to the junior author. The authors are indebted to Robert Edelberg for his generously supplied psychophysiological help and advice, and to Alan Jusko for his technical help.

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Shapiro, S., Lehrer, P.M. Psychophysiological effects of autogenic training and progressive relaxation. Biofeedback and Self-Regulation 5, 249–255 (1980).

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  • Heart Rate
  • Health Psychology
  • Specific Effect
  • Comparative Effect
  • Skin Conductance