Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Guided Imagery

  • Jennifer Cumming
  • Giles M. Anderson
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_1341-2



Guided imagery involves a practitioner verbally leading an individual through the processes of mentally representing situations in their mind. The representation can occur in one or more senses so that the person (or imaginer) experiences the sights, tastes, sounds, smells, and feelings associated with the situation. Details about people, places, and events can also be included to make the experience as realistic and vivid as possible.

To aid the process of generating the mental “images,” guided imagery is usually performed with closed eyes, in a quiet environment, while the imaginer reclines in a comfortable position. Instructions on how and what to image can be delivered individually or in groups and are imparted either live or as an audio recording. Similar to hypnosis or meditation, guided imagery is often combined with music and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, to help clear and focus...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Ackerman, C. J., & Turkoski, B. (2000). Using guided imagery to reduce pain and anxiety. Home Health Care Nurse, 18, 524–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bardia, A., Barton, D., Prokop, L., Bauer, B., & Moynihan, T. (2006). Efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine therapies in relieving cancer pain: A systematic review. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 24, 5457–5463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bonny, H. L. (1980). GIM therapy: Past, present, and future implications (GIM Monograph No. 3). Salina: The Bonny Foundation.Google Scholar
  4. Burns, D. S. (2001). The effect of the Bonny Method of guided imagery and music on the mood and life quality of cancer patients. Journal of Music Therapy, 38, 51–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Johnson, E. L., & Lutgendorf, S. K. (2001). Contributions of imagery ability to stress and relaxation. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 23, 273–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kelly, K. (2010). A review of the effects of guided imagery on cancer patients with pain. Complementary Health Practice Review, 15, 98–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. King, K. (2010). A review of the effects of guided imagery on cancer patients with pain. Complementary Health Practice Review, 15, 98–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kwekkeboom, K. L. (2000). Measuring imagery ability: Psychometric testing of the imaging ability questionnaire. Research in Nursing & Health, 23, 301–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kwekkeboom, K., Huseby-Moore, K., & Ward, S. (1998). Imaging ability and effective use of guided imagery. Research in Nursing and Health, 21, 189–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kwekkeboom, K., Hau, H., Wanta, B., & Bumpus, M. (2008). Patients perceptions of the effectiveness of guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation interventions used for cancer pain. Complementary Therapeutics in Clinic Practice, 14, 185–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lengacher, C. A., Bennet, M. P., Gonzalez, L., Gilvary, D., Cox, C. E., Cantor, A., Jacobsen, P. B., Yang, C., & Djeu, J. (2008). Immune responses to guided imagery during breast cancer treatment. Biological Research Nursing, 9, 205–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Malouin, F., Richards, C. L., Jackson, P. L., Lafleur, M. F., Durand, A., & Doyen, J. (2007). The kinesthetic and visual imagery questionnaire (KVIQ) for assessing motor imagery in persons with physical disabilities: A reliability and construct validity study. Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy, 31, 20–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Roffe, L., Schmidt, K., & Ernst, E. (2005). A systematic review of guided imagery as an adjuvant cancer therapy. Psycho-Oncology, 14, 607–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Schmidt, K., & Ernst, E. (2004). Assessing websites on complementary and alternative medicine for cancer. Annals of Oncology, 15, 733–742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Trakhtenberg, E. C. (2008). The effects of guided imagery on the immune system: A critical review. International Journal of Neuroscience, 118, 839–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Watanabe, E., Fukuda, S., Hara, H., Maeda, Y., Ohira, H., & Shirakawa, T. (2006). Differences in relaxation by means of guided imagery in a healthy community sample. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 12, 60–66.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sport and Exercise SciencesUniversity of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK
  2. 2.Oxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Anna C. Phillips
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK