The concept of Integrative Health Care involves bringing conventional and complementary treatment approaches together in a coordinated way. Guided Imagery is one of the top ten most common complimentary health approaches [1]. It belongs to the group Mind and body practices.

Guided Imagery bases on visual part of experience, but it also activates all parts of the sensory system including, smell, sound, taste and feel. During utilization of this tool, images are recalled from long-term or short-term memory, or created from fantasy, or a combination of both, in response to guidance, instruction, or supervision [2]. The main goal of Guided Imagery is bring about a desired mental and physical response to alter thoughts, emotions and behavior.  

The technique can be realized in the usual way and provided by therapist or interactive way when participant follows guidance provided by a sound recording, video, audiovisual media, sites or smartphone applications.  

The practice of Guided Imagery can comminute a hypnotic induction, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation.

There are types of imagery which can be used for psychological intervention: anti-future shock, positive, aversive, associative and coping imagery [3].

Researchers identify four phases of Guided Imagery: generation, maintenance, inspection and transformation images [4].

Guided Imagery is applied for managing stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression and symptoms related to chronic pain conditions [5, 6].

Stress does not only affect an individual’s mental well-being, it also directly contributes to the progression of disease and damaging physical illnesses [7].

Guided Imagery is demonstrates the efficacy a constructive distraction that allows the individual to detach and redirect the stress [8], the ability to increase optimism [9], relieve levels of perceived stress and improve physical function as well as enhance one’s sense of self-efficacy [6].

Self-Guided Imagery, in turn, can be helpful for emotional selfregulation [10]. These kinds of protocols show good accessibility [11]. But they need previous engagement of instructor for understanding and treatment credibility.

At the same time, studies show  that Interactive Guided Imagery  is no less effective  than the traditional guided by therapist way. Interactive Guided Imagery may be feasible and effective in managing of stress biomarkers: “acutely reducing salivary cortisol levels” [10], “cause changes in brain oscillatory activity” [12].

The main problem of Interactive Guided Imagery  is  to adhere to the principle of positive content of images for the person. But it can be solved by different imagery  techniques, as “structuring training stimuli so that they started ambiguous as to their potential resolution but always ended positively” [13].

Guided and self-guided imagery is seen as a powerful technique and is widely used in modern psychotherapy and psychological training. But almost all the knowledge achieved is associated with traditional guided or self-guided imagery with including of therapist during all guided imagery process or instructors at the first stage.

Estimation of the potential of autonomous interactive guided imagery is a question of practical importance. It might offer new strategies to combat negative emotions and minimizing of technical and social barriers access to psychological support. The using of mobile applications for guided imagery can be a possible solution, as effective playful instrument to use in therapy for stress management.

  1. Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name? US Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. National Institutes of Health. NIH Publication No. D347.Online Version. Retrieved 31 July 2015. – Access mode:
  2. Pearson D.G. Mental imagery and creative thought / D.G. Pearson // Proceedings of the British Academy. Vol. 147, 2007; P.187–212
  3. Tuong Thi-Ngoc Nguyen. Utilization of Guided Imagery within the Four Phases of Adlerian Therapy: A Research Paper / Thi-Ngoc Nguyen Tuong // 2012.– Access mode:
  4. Slotnick S.D., Thompson W.L., and Kosslyn S.M. Visual memory and visual mental imagery recruit common control and sensory regions of the brain / S.D.Slotnick, W.L. Thompson and S.M. Kosslyn, // Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2012, P. 14–20.
  5. Eller L.S. Guided imagery interventions for symptom management / L.S. Eller // Annual Review of Nursing Research, 17(1), 1999. – P. 57–84.
  6. Menzies V., & Jallo N. Guided Imagery as a Treatment Option for Fatigue: A Literature Review / V. Menzies, N. Jallo // Journal of Holistic Nursing: Official Journal of the American Holistic Nurses’ Association,29(4), 2011. – P. 279–286.
  7. Kaufman J.A. An Adlerian perspective on guided visual imagery for stress and coping / J.A. Kaufman // Journal of Individual Psychology, 63(2), 2007. – P. 193–204.
  8. Battino R. Guided imagery and other approaches to healing / R. Battino // Carmarthen, UK: Crown House Publishing. 2000
  9. Blackwell S.E., Rius-Ottenheim N., Schulte-van Maaren et al. Optimism and mental imagery: A possible cognitive marker to promote well-being? / S.E.Blackwell, N. Rius-Ottenheim, Maaren Schulte-van et al. // Psychiatry Research, 206(1), 2013. – P. 56–61. – Access mode:
  10. Weigensberg M.J., Joy Lane C., Winners et al. Acute Effects of Stress-Reduction Interactive Guided ImagerySMon Salivary Cortisol in Overweight Latino Adolescents / M.J. Weigensberg, C. Joy Lane, Winners //Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(3), 2009. P. – 297–303. – Access mode:
  11. Servant D., Leterme A.C., Barasino O., et al. Efficacy of Seren@ctif, a Computer-Based Stress Management Program for Patients With Adjustment Disorder With Anxiety: Protocol for a Controlled Trial JMIR Res Protoc / D. Servant,  A.C. Leterme, O. Barasino, et al.  // 2017. – 6(10): P. 190. – Access mode:
  12. Velikova S., Sjaaheim H., Nordtug B. Can the Psycho-Emotional State be Optimized by Regular Use of Positive Imagery?, Psychological and Electroencephalographic Study of Self-Guided Training / S. Velikova, H. Sjaaheim, B. Nordtug // Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10, 664, 2016. – Access mode:
  13. Blackwell S.E., Holmes E.A.. Brightening the Day With Flashes of Positive Mental Imagery: A Case Study of an Individual With Depression / S.E. Blackwell, E.A. Holmes // Journal of Clinical Psychology,73(5), 2017. P. – 579–589.– Access mode:




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