What is Autogenic Training?

Autogenic TrainingAutogenic training (AT) is a relaxation technique that uses the mind to relax the body.

It is a form of relaxation therapy involving autosuggestion. You can also think of it as a form of self-hypnosis. 

AT was developed by a Berlin neurologist named Johannes Heinrich Schultz (1884-1970).

His theory is explained in his book, written in 1932, with its name, Autogenic, from the Greek autos, meaning “self,” and genesis, meaning “birth or origin.” It literally means training originating from oneself or “coming from within.”

AT incorporates the use of self-directed exercises to create mental and physical relaxation. It incorporates the daily practice of specific mental repetitions and physical relaxation techniques. While AT is taught in the United States, it is taught and practiced predominantly in European countries.

This technique uses visual imagery and body awareness to help you relax. The person imagines being in a peaceful place and then focuses on different physical sensations, such as heaviness of the limbs or a calm heartbeat. People may practice on their own, creating their own images, or be guided by a therapist.

Autogenic training may be done one-on-one or in a group. A session can last 15-20 minutes or longer.

Research shows autogenic training can help with many health concerns, including the following:

  • Tension and migraine headaches
  • insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Pain without an obvious physical cause
  • Mild to moderate Depression and anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Are there any risks to Autogenic Training?

In general, AT is very safe. The technique may be less safe, and not advised, for patients who have severe mental illness, such as psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.  

If you have a history of mental illness, you may want to talk with your primary care provider before trying it out.

You may also want to work with someone who can teach you more about autogenic training before trying it on your own.  AT should not replace other treatments recommended by your health care team.

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