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Relaxation Techniques/Therapy

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Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine
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Relaxation techniques/therapy are techniques for reducing stress and inducing relaxation.


Relaxation techniques/therapy increase parasympathetic nervous system activity, thereby decreasing the opposing sympathetic nervous system activity such as the fight or flight phenomenon and decreasing arousal. There are a variety of techniques for inducing relaxation. Probably, the most common are variants of Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation training. Other methods include autogenic training, use of relaxation imagery, biofeedback, and practices derived from meditation and yoga techniques (Jorm et al. 2008).

With regard to psychiatric illnesses, relaxation techniques/therapy are often used as a competing stimulus during systematic desensitization and as part of a comprehensive intervention strategy for the reduction of anxiety. They are more effective at reducing self-rated depressive symptoms than no or minimal treatment, while data on clinician-rated depressive...

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References and Further Readings

  • Dickinson, H. O., Campbell, F., Beyer, F. R., Nicolson, D. J., Cook, J. V., Ford, G. A., et al. (2008). Relaxation therapies for the management of primary hypertension in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 23, CD004935.

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  • Jorm, A. F., Morgan, A. J., & Hetrick, S. E. (2008). Relaxation for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 8, CD007142.

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  • Palermo, T. M., Eccleston, C., Lewandowski, A. S., Williams, A. C., & Morley, S. (2010). Randomized controlled trials of psychological therapies for management of chronic pain in children and adolescents: An updated meta-analytic review. Pain, 148, 387–397.

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  • Rada, G., Capurro, D., Pantoja, T., Corbalán, J., Moreno, G., Letelier, L. M., et al. (2010). Non-hormonal interventions for hot flushes in women with a history of breast cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 8, CD004923.

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  • Taylor, D. J., & Roane, B. M. (2010). Treatment of insomnia in adults and children: A practice-friendly review of research. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 66, 1137–1147.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

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Correspondence to Hiroe Kikuchi .

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Kikuchi, H. (2020). Relaxation Techniques/Therapy. In: Gellman, M.D. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-39901-6

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