Imagery International Blog

Your source for the latest news about Guided Imagery, Imagery International, workshops, articles and products from our members.

Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

You Are Not a Statistic

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

An excerpt from In Sickness as in Health: Helping Couples Cope with the Complexities of Illness
by Barbara Kivowitz (Author), Roanne Weisman (Author)
Roundtree Press (January 15, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1937359131

This is taken from Kevin Pho, MD blog Look for a Doctor Who Understands Healing

You are not a statistic

Ironically, the surgeon who repaired her heart also left her heartbroken. While he and the neurologists may have considered it their obligation to present what they envisioned as the truth, they assumed too much. Statistical medical probabilities based on aggregate data don’t necessarily apply to an individual, who is unique and has her own potentially miraculous capacities. Statistics can’t take into account one patient’s willpower, another’s deep faith, and another’s reliance on non-conventional healing. They also don’t take into account the enormous value of a loving partner. Yet these factors, along with many others, can sometimes overturn the sentence of even a severe diagnosis.

With the initial shock of diagnosis, the injured person and the partner are extremely vulnerable. They feel as if they have been deposited on an alien planet where the laws of familiar physics no longer apply and the air is toxic. The suddenness of the change means there is a lag time between the new reality and their ability to function within it. All their normal coping skills remain on planet Earth even as they have to immediately learn to breathe in this new atmosphere. In this unhinged state, they naturally seek a powerful guide, and typically grant omniscient status to the doctor.

The doctor becomes the orientation point in this new and frightening universe. Her words signify more than educated opinion; they become oracular. It is as if she can foresee their future and has the potential to return them to safe ground. Linda’s heart surgeon’s parting words were, “Sorry you stroked, but heart-wise you’re fine.” He was satisfied that he had done his job. Anything outside the surgical realm was not his responsibility.

“I felt that he had dismissed me as a whole person,” said Linda. “I was just another surgical case to him.” Had Linda not possessed some abiding source of internal steel, the surgeon’s words might have become her living epitaph.

It is not unusual, in the aftershock of diagnosis, for patients and their partners to either submit silently to the sentence or pummel the doctor with questions as they desperately seek loopholes through which they can squeeze their fading hopes. The doctor remains the focal point. Her words at this delicate moment — where the mind is ricocheting from fear to fear, and the body and soul’s natural healing abilities need encouragement — can have fateful impact.

Podcast Interview: Image as Healer

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

October 2013 Conference Speaker Kate Sculti: Image as Healer

Click HERE to listen.

Kate Sculti

Kate Sculti

Kate Sculti,RNP, MPH,FAMSF Docent, talks with Lea Bayles, Program Director for Imagery International, about her passion for the healing power of imagery and about her experiences combining imagery with art in the innovative Art and Healing Program she has designed for veterans. This program, currently in the pilot stage at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, brings the healing power of the image, via artistic engagement, to ill, injured and grieving individuals. Kate, a health professional for over 20 years and an Imagery International board member, will be a featured presenter at the 5th Annual Imagery International Conference in Burlingame California, October 4-6, 2013, offering the workshop: Image as Messenger of Meaning – Image as Healer.

You can contact Kate by email HERE.

Why You Need an Integrative Medical Doctor

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Dr. Martin Rossman: The Extraordinary Power of the Imagination in Healing

Martin Rossman, MD

In this audio recording, Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Martin L. Rossman, a physician, acupuncturist, and co-founder of the Academy for Guided Imagery. Dr. Rossman is the author of the award-winning book Guided Imagery for Self-Healing, and with Sounds True he has created several guided imagery programs including Anxiety Relief, Stress Relief, Pain Relief, and Self-Healing with Guided Imagery with Dr. Andrew Weil. In this episode, Tami speaks with Martin about the reasons guided imagery is not more present in mainstream use in spite of its clinically proven effectiveness, what the placebo effect tells us about the mind-body connection, and how you can enhance the power of guided imagery by using personal imagery. (65 minutes)

Martin L.  Rossman, MD, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)
Marin Integrative Medicine
1341 S. Eliseo Dr., #350
Greenbrae, CA 94904


In his latest e-newsletter Dr. Martin discusses the shortage of specialty doctors and why integrative medical doctors are your best source for care.

Reading lots about projected shortages of doctors, expected to be made worse as the Affordable Health Care Act goes into effect in 2014. Do you know that there are already shortages of every medical specialty except for two? Dermatology and plastic surgery. Another very good reason to be proactive about your health. Invest something in it – don’t let “whatever my insurance company will cover” pass for healthcare. Healthcare and disease treatment often overlap, and both are important, but they are not the same thing. Integrative Medicine addresses both.

Martin Rossman, MD on Sleep and Stress September 6

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Martin Rossman, MD will be giving a talk on Sleep and Stress

Martin Rossman, MD

When:   Thursday, September 6th

Where:  Stress Management Center of Marin

1165 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur

Time:    7:00PM – 9:00PM.    No late arrivals.

Cost:    There is no charge for this and you  are welcome to bring friends and family.

Please RSVP to 925-8600 or, though, as seating is limited and they don’t want to turn people away at the door.

Also a  reminder:  Dr. Rossman will be teaching mind/body medicine in Italy from September 19th to the 30th.  There is still room in the Italy seminar for health professionals looking for great CME and a tax-deductible Tuscany adventure.  To see more click on Italy Seminars 


Cancer Imagery Up-Regulates Immune Function

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Cancer Imagery Up-Regulates Immune Function After All by Belleruth Naparstek, Monday, June 27, 2011

Belleruth Naparstek

Hello again.

I’ve been looking at the research and pondering how far we’ve come from those early days when we were first learning about guided imagery as a possible, bona fide addition to the cancer treatment toolkit.  

Back in the 80’s when guided imagery was first getting promoted by Bernie Siegel, Stephanie & Carl Simonton, Jeanne Achterberg and Frank Lawlis, there was a lot of excitement about its potential.  Early pilot studies showed a lot of promise (early studies often do – perhaps because of the excitement the investigators feel about their intervention), and there was a lot of talk about how ‘visualization’ could wipe out cancer cells.  People were encouraged to imagine Pac-Men, a popular video game at the time, eating up cancer cells, before, during and after chemotherapy.

In those days, the imagery was strictly visual – the other senses were not called into play – and that made it hard for the half of the population that’s not especially well wired for visual memory or fantasy.  We’ve since learned that all the senses need to be brought to bear, and that perhaps the most potent and impactful sense is the kinesthetic one – imagining the feel of things inside the body. We also figured out that for most people, when the imagery has a strong emotional flavor to it, it gets potentiated to a greater extent and has more impact. 

The research at that time showed that the proponents of visualization were over-promising.  These early visualizations helped cancer patients with motivation, coping, anxiety and the side effects of chemotherapy and other medical procedures  but didn’t make a dent on the progress of the cancer itself.  Investigators reluctantly backed off from their ambitious early claims and stuck with side-effects and coping benefits.


About Guided Imagery

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Guided Imagery defined

Dr. Jeanne Achterberg, a leader in imagery exploration and application, refers to imagery as “the thought process that invokes and uses the senses: vision, audition, smell, taste, the senses of movement, position and touch. It is the communication between perception, emotion, and bodily change.” Guided Imagery can evoke change through the senses both physical and imagined by skillful guidance.

Guided Imagery Experienced

A definition does not capture the experience of working with a trained Guided Imagery practitioner.  And most people who have not had experience with this approach want to know about research on efficacy of Guided Imagery for changing symptoms, behavior before deciding to try it out.  Imagery International’s professionals have written about their work over the years and through articles in Imagery International’s newsletter – ImagiNews –  discuss how they have incorporated their Guided Imagery training into their practices.

Our membership is comprised of diverse licensed and certified professionals who show how this work is useful to virtually all types of work.

To see these articles that range from relevant research citations to treatment of symptoms and behavioral problems visit our About Guided Imagery page.

All types of professionals are not represented here.  We will be adding information as articles are submitted.

Integrative Medicine is Vital to Your Health

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Dear Friend,

Martin Rossman, MD

I have been thinking a lot about Integrative Medicine lately. I want to share my thoughts about some of the principles and practices that have caused me to dedicate my life to practicing this way and the important contributions that Integrative medicine has to offer patients, physicians, and society alike. As always, I welcome your feedback, questions, and thoughts.

The First Principle: Do No Harm

“Primum Non Nocere” is a cherished medical principle dating back to the time of Hippocrates. It cautions us not to make anyone worse through treatment than they were already. It is a precaution that is violated every day in the practice of modern conventional medicine, especially in treating people with chronic medical conditions, and the harm done can be serious, even fatal.

Regrettably, modern medicine has become the 3rd or 4th leading cause of death in America. In 1998 the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article ascribing 106,000 deaths a year to adverse reactions to prescription medication in hospitals. For perspective, compare that to 40,000 deaths a year from breast cancer. Remarkably, and discouragingly, this number is for reactions to “properly prescribed” medications, not medical errors, which in themselves knock off another several hundred thousand Americans. While there is a very active movement in medicine to reduce the number of errors through better oversight and electronic medical records, there is little to no movement seriously looking at whether or not we really need to be on an average of 5 prescription medications at age 65, or whether there are real alternatives to “better living through chemistry.”


Military & Mind-Body Medicine

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Armed Services Moving toward Mind-Body Medicine
Jan 31, 2011

[If you are interested in following up on the organizations mentioned in Naparstek’s article, you will find links in the original article here. We made those links bold and have not linked them in this excerpt.]

Belleruth Naparstek

Hello, everyone.

Well, I’m just back from the Military Health System Conference held at National Harbor, MD, and there seems to be plenty of reason to be encouraged about guided imagery and other mind-body therapies gaining respect, visibility and usage within our Armed Services.

For one thing, holistic health and mind-body therapies are a key element in the new, Patient-Centered Medical Home model which is being implemented in Army clinics nationwide. This model is a gigundo improvement over existing health and mental health services, and, as far as I’m concerned, they can’t implement these enlightened, holistic, one-stop medical care changes fast enough.  And let’s hope the rest of the world follows suit.

Cindy and Jerry had a Health Journeys booth there, and the Playaway people were a presence there as well.  They happily reported they had multiple visits from various TriCare folks, along with a lot of serious interest from health providers in all branches of the service.  Now, if TriCare decides they like guided imagery (and given the cost savings to insurers and HMO’s demonstrated by the Schwab et al Blue Shield of California Study, it’s surely in their enlightened self-interest to do so), a lot of troops, vets and families will be getting guided imagery.

There’s also great interest in mind-body methods for treating PTS (posttraumatic stress) and TBI (traumatic brain injury) over at DCoE, (Defense Centers of Excellence), the umbrella organization that includes both the Dept of Defense and the Veterans Administration, tasked with finding new, effective ways to deal with the multiple psychological and neuro-physiological challenges our troops face.

Just last week I learned that DICoE is about to include guided imagery as a “promising practice” in a review paper that’s ready to launch next week, titled “Promising Integrative Practices for Regulating Stress, Emotions, and Arousal”.  This document will feature a dozen integrative health practices, ranging from manipulative body-based and touch techniques, to yoga breath routines, to mindfulness and meditation based practices.  So, how do you like them apples?

For the rest of this story and links of visit Belleruth Naparstek’s website.


Belleruth Naparstek is a sychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer. She is the creator of the popular, 55-title, Time Warner Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her first book, Staying Well with Guided Imagery (Warner) is a widely used primer on imagery and healing.

Her second book, Your Sixth Sense (Harper Collins) has been translated into 9 languages, with a new 2009 edition just released. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award and was released in paperback January of 2006. Highlighted in their 20th anniversary edition of their seminal book, Courage to Heal, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis call Invisible Heroes “the most useful book for trauma survivors to be published in the last decade”.

As Prevention Magazine recently noted, Belleruth has been quietly creating an underground revolution among mainstream health and mental health bureaucracies, by persuading major institutions such as the U.S. Veteran’s Administration, the U.S. Dept of Defense, The American Red Cross, Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California, United Health Care, Oxford Health Plan, GlaxoSmithKline, Ortho Biotech, Roche, Abbott, Amgen, and nearly 2000 hospitals, mental health centers, recovery clinics and vet centers to distribute her guided imagery recordings, in most instances free of charge to recipients.

In addition, her audio programs have been involved in over two dozen clinical trials, with nearly a dozen studies completed to date. Efficacy has been established for several psychological and medical challenges, most recently for PTSD at Duke University Medical Center/Durham Veterans Administration Hospital.

Her audio programs, books and huge resource library is located at Health Journeys online site.

Health-Care Debate

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

This opinion piece on the Health-Care Debate refers to an article printed in our local newspaper titled Health-Care Debate: A doctor prescribes addressing real issues by Dr. Scott Morris published in the Vacaville Reporter: 01/28/2011 01:04:06 AM PST. The first few paragraphs and link to the article follows my opinion.

The three points Dr. Morris focuses on are:

1. Admit government cannot do it all.
2. Confront our unholy love affair with technology.
3. Stop skittering around end-of-life issues.

I’ve been studying alternative approaches to health and wellness for the last 30 years. My working hypothesis is that unrecognized trauma (trauma includes experiences that do not fit with the definition of PTSD) can generate symptoms that are misdiagnosed and mistreated as disease.  Medicine/medical doctors do not recognize the difference between trauma based symptoms and organic symptoms in diagnosis and treatment.  If treated as a disease, trauma symptoms do not respond as expected. People who are not cured will have a chronic problem that often requires maintenance with drugs.

An alternative response to failure of medications to work is ‘we need more tests’ or lets try another drug.  Where there is good research showing alternative approaches achieve excellent results, that approach is not likely referred – Irritable bowel is an example.

Dr. Morris discusses his hard hitting observations about fear of death and the focus on death panels. He believes that patients are kept alive at great expense because of fear of death and not for love or care.

I believe the even greater over-arching unconscious motivation is fear of loss.


Jan. 22, AHNA Regional Conference

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Saturday January 22, 2011, 10-4 PM at the Beautiful New UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine – 1545 Divisadero Street (at Post), San Francisco

2011: A Year of Transformation & Renewal

(Co-Sponsored by Beyond Ordinary Nursing and the Healing Touch Program)

Our 1st American Holistic Nursing Association Regional Meeting of the Year

Lunch and 4 contact hours provided for $40. Space is limited.
Presentations will be experiential and applicable to practice.

Click here to download the flyer.