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Healing Imagery . “Imagination is more important than knowledge” – Albert Einstein. Mind-Body Integration. Facilitates the healing process Increased immune response between imagery and lymphocyte function. Immune system is triggered by imagery. History.

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healing imagery
Healing Imagery

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” – Albert Einstein

mind body integration
Mind-Body Integration
  • Facilitates the healing process
    • Increased immune response between imagery and lymphocyte function.
    • Immune system is triggered by imagery

Ancient time the removal of pathogenic image was necessary for a cure.

- images led to pathology (Aristole)

- images were movement of the soul

Middle Ages

- Vital spirits traveled between the heart and brain

- Imagination became a predominate role in pathology


Pre modern times

- All illness were regarded as psychosomatic

- Blindness was a loss of sensation of reality

- Imagery was a key interventions


Imagery ended in 17th century as predominate intervention due to dualism (mind and body are separate)

- bleed became popular

In the 18th & 19th century, imagery was defined as the content of the mind and end product of sensation.

- Illness that had no explanation were imaginal


20th Century

- Link between imagination and pathology

- Edmund Jacobson work in relaxation

- Cancer research

mental imagery
Mental Imagery

Positive imagery are useful in enhancing one’s believe and mobilizing one’s own healing powers.

Simonton, et al (1978) cancer patient study found relaxation and imagery showed 41% improved, 22.2% had total remission, and 19.1 tumor regression.

Hull replicated Simonton study and found similar results.

ievleva orlick study
Ievleva & Orlick Study

35 injured athletes used 3 types of imagery

  • Healing imagery (see and feel the body part healing)
  • Imagery during physiotherapy (imaged the treatment promoted recovery)
  • Total recovery imagery (imaged total recovery)

Injured athletes with knee and ankle injuries participated in the study.

Mental imagery was a focus of the study

19% of these athletes had exceptionally fast recoveries that used any form of imagery

Recovery time was significantly shorter for those athletes that used imagery than athletes that did not.

healing imagery10
Healing Imagery

Defined as visualizing and feeling the healing taking place to the injured area.

“Imagine the clot formation around the fracture, the change of the clot into fibrous tissue lattice, calcium crystallization on the latticework, and restructuring of new bone around the fracture.”

injury use during rehab from injury
Injury Use During Rehab From Injury

Evans, Hare, & Mullen (2006) Journal of Imagery Research Sport & Physical Activity.

  • Greater understanding of injured athletes across the phases of their rehab
during the first week
Athletes experience intense feels of depression & frustration

Imagery was used for healing and pain management purposes

Rehearse and maintain skills enhanced self-confidence

During the first week
mid phase
Athlete wanted to see progress in their rehab

Maintain their performance levels

Increases their use of healing and pain imagery

Used imagery to motivate them to complete rehabilation

in final phase
Primarily concerned with returning to sport

Used imagery to foster their self-confidence

Overcome fear on re-injury

Cope with the return to sport

In Final Phase
I’ve done so much imagery between getting injured and now…I’m still a lot closer to the real performance than I would be if I had not done nothing. I think that mayby the reason behind the successful performance in the competition last week, in that I mean even though I’d been 2 months without any training at all,you known it just kinda came naturally to me, it was amazing, technically, I hadn’t lost a thing. (Evan, Hare, & Mullen, 2006)
healing imagery17
Healing Imagery

First relax then image.

Imagine the mending of the injury

Imagine the body being repaired by the treatment

Internal imagery

Practice imagery daily

Involves all the senses not just vision

how imagery works
How Imagery Works
  • Psychoneuromuscular Theory
    • Neuromuscular activity pattern activated during the imaginal process
    • Research with downhill skiers by Suinn monitored electric activity in leg muscles
      • Imagined the skill
      • Monitored the physical skill of skiing
    • Imagine of performance strengthens neuromuscular pattern
how imagery works19
How Imagery Works
  • Symbolic Learning Theory
    • Imagery may function as a coding system.
    • Feltz & Landers study found participants who use imagery performed consistently better on tasks that were primarily cognitive than those that were motoric.
why me by porter norris
Why me? By Porter & Norris

A young boy was diagnosis of a malignant inoperative brain tumor and his fight to live.

Used mental imagery, biofeedback,, and art therapy to visualize the canerous tumor away by imagiing the tumor being destroyed and eaten away by friendly yet hungry white blood cells.

He visualized the shrinkage of the tumor and in several months a CT scan revealed the tumor had vanished.

it always something by gilda radner
“It Always Something” by Gilda Radner
  • Gilda Radner used mental imagery with her ovanian cancer.
  • She created the image that her body was a big, fluffy pink towel. Washing and drying the towel was symbolic of chemotherapy.
  • She saw the cancer cells as pieces of lint on the towel when it was pulled from the dryer.
  • To rid her body of the unwanted cancer cells, she imaged that she would pull the lint off the towel and make it complete clean.

Keys to Effective Imagery

Vividness & Awareness

Use all the senses to make images as vivid and detailed as possible.

Exercise:Imagine a positive outcome of rehab, and return to play.


Keys to Effective Imagery


Learn to manipulate your images so they do what you want them to.

Exercise:Imagine controlling the repair of one’s tissue, controlling your emotions, and performing in sport after the injury.


Developing an Imagery Training Program

Tailor imagery programs to an athlete’s injury, needs (self-confidence), and interests.

The first step in developing an imagery program is evaluating the athlete’s imagery skills.

Imagery must be individualized and practiced. Hence, it should be built into the rehab or daily routine.

final note on imagery
Final Note on Imagery

Winners see what they want to happen, losers see what they fear— Linda Bunker