‘Autogenic’ means generated from within. The therapy is a form of deep relaxation, comparable to meditation, whereby a state of physical and mental rest is induced by autosuggestion.
Autogenic training is a relaxation technique developed by the German psychiatrist Johannes Schultz and first published in 1932. The technique involves the daily practice of sessions that last around 15 minutes, usually in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening.
During each session, the practitioner will repeat a set of visualisations that induce a state of relaxation. Each session can be practiced in a position chosen amongst a set of recommended postures (e.g. lying down, sitting meditation, sitting like a rag doll, etc.).
The technique can be used to alleviate many stress-induced psychosomatic disorders. Schultz emphasized parallels to techniques in yoga and meditation. It is a method for influencing one’s autonomic nervous system. There are many parallels to progressive relaxation.
In addition to being a general relaxation technique, autogenic therapy is used to help overcome psychological problems, as well as to control the symptoms of many physical disorders:
Anxiety / panic attacks / phobias
Epilepsy (frontal lobe)
Headaches / migraines
Irritable bowel syndrome
Long term pain
Sleep disorders / fatigue
In 2001, the Department of Psychology at the University of South Alabama studied 30 children between the ages of 7 and 18 years who suffered from migraines. The frequency of the migraines was reduced in all cases. In fact, six months after receiving autogenic training, 50% of them were completely free from symptoms.
In 1992, Dr Ann Bowden conducted a survey of 196 patients who had attended autogenic training at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. 144 said that their symptoms had improved, 49 said that they had stayed the same; 3 said they had got worse.
Autogenic training may not be recommended for those suffering from diabetes, hypoglycaemia or heart conditions; it is also not suitable for some people who have a history of psychiatric problems. You are advised to consult your GP first.
For more information, read our piece on learning meditation in Northampton, or simply contact us.