Bridging the gap between mind and body: A biobehavioral model of the effects of guided imagery on pain, pain disability, and depression

Chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) is a disorder that is associated with such things as decline in emotional well being, physical and functional health, as well as overall quality of life. In CNCP there is often a high comorbidity of depression.

During guided imagery exercises, images are suggested in part or whole by a guide in order to achieve a certain therapeutic goal. These images can appear as sight, sound, a sense of movement, smell, or taste. During the guided imagery exercise the patient remains alert, concentrating intensely and imagining these sensory inputs. This imagery helps transport the user into an analogic realm of experience that assists in facilitating a generation of possibilities.

Guided imagery helps in promoting self-management in individuals with CNCP, enhancing their ability to participate in change and manage their pain experience. Those pain patients using guided imagery change their beliefs about pain, which in turn can alter the stress response and normalize immune function. With the use of Guided imagery (GI) it is an important goal with CNCP patients that they become convinced of their own personal power, allowing them to take charge and manage their pain

In this study is it was shown that 52% of subjects who used GI over 4 days were able to modify their belief that their pain was unchangeable. It was also seen that GI could also be incorporated as a mind-body technique in a holistic multidimensional pain management program. With the expected outcomes being improved pain self-efficacy, modification of averse pain beliefs and reduced pain and/or depression.

Article Reference

Lewandowski, W., & Jacobson, A. (2013). Bridging the gap between mind and body: A biobehavioral model of the effects of guided imagery on pain, pain disability, and depression. Pain Management Nursing, (4), 368. doi:10.1016/j.pmn.2011.08.001