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According to Jencks (1973), Autogenic Training is a psychophysiological method of therapy. Dr. J.H. Schultz was the developer of this method in 1920, who defined six standard exercises used with great success by Schultz’s students.
Following the development of these six classical exercises, Schultz developed a series of suggestions categorised as Special Formulas, applied in the medical and psychological therapeutic situations. Following this development, Schultz designed the Advanced Autogenic Training, which he initially called meditative mental exercises.
The Autogenic term comes from the Greek Autos, i.e., within the self, and Genos, i.e., developed. In other words, Autogenic means “Developed within the self”.
Later on, Schultz and Luthe (1969) published Autogenic Methods, being part of six comprehensive volumes, including Medical Applications, Applications in Psychotherapy, Research and Theory, Dynamics of Autogenic Neutralization, and Treatment with Autogenic Neutralization.
This post discusses the six classical exercises only.
The objectives and applications of Autogenic Training.
According to Jencks (1973), the objectives and applications of Autogenic Training can be incorporated in a long list, including stress, the promotion of tolerable and healthy reactions of body and mind, elimination of intolerable and unhealthy results, achieving enhanced personal and social efficiency, rest and recuperation, self-relaxation, self-discipline, self-determination, increased motivation, changes of distressful memory programs, activation of healing mechanisms, elimination of negatively charged images, improvement of sleep, development of memory recall, self-analysis, and self-realization.
The Six-Standard Autogenic Training Exercises.
The exercises shown below use a series of suggestions that according to Linden (1990) are conducive to the following physiological changes during the practice of the exercises of Autogenic Training: (1) heaviness = muscular relaxation, (2) warmth = vascular dilation, (3) heartbeat calm and regular = regulation of heart activity, (4) respiration is calm and regular = regulation of breathing, (5) solar plexus is comfortably warm = regulation of visceral organs activity, and (6) forehead is pleasantly cool = regulation of the head.
The six-standard autogenic training exercises involve a series of verbal formulae spoken by a practitioner while the subject adopts a lying or a sitting position holding their eyes closed, in a tranquil settings (Jencks 1973).
The practitioner pronounces each formula for six times, followed by the word tranquillity once. The subject repeats each formula in their mind.
According to Jencks (1973), the formulae include:
- Heaviness of arms and legs.
- Warmth of arms and legs.
- Heartbeat regulation.
- Respiration regulation.
- Internal Warmth directed to visceral organs.
- Cooling of the Forehead.
When not to practice autogenic training
There are obviously several contraindications to practicing autogenic training (Kermani 1996), including the following:
- People having heart issues, including angina, during or immediately following a heart attack. As far as the heart attack is concerned, it is recommended to wait for minimum three months before practicing autogenic training.
- People having diabetes, with insulin treatment. This is because insulin is affected during practicing autogenic training.
- Glaucoma sufferers, i.e., increased pressure within eyeball.
- Psychotic conditions sufferers, including schizophrenia, and severe depression.
- Alcoholics, and drug users addicted to heroin, morphine, and cocaine.
- Epilepsy sufferers, because the frequency of attacks may be increased.
- People having extended occurrences of unconsciousness.
- To be on the safe side, people wanting to practice autogenic training should ask for medical advice. In other words people can practice autogenic training with permission granted by their medical doctor.
Autogenic Training’s examples of physiological effects on people
Linden (1990, pp. 101-140) cites a series of studies completed by several researchers, including the following results: (1) Blood volume changes, (2) Reduction in cholesterol values, (3) stress reduction, reduction of cortisol levels, (4) gastrointestinal improvements, (5) heart rate improvements, (6) respiration improvements, (7) angina symptoms improvement, (8) asthma symptoms improvement, (9) childbirth-reduction of pre-labour anxiety and labour pain,
(10) headache intensity and frequency reduction, (11) hypertension reduction, (12) insomnia reduction, and (13) anxiety reduction.
How to train people in Autogenic Training
I suggest a training course for autogenic training of 10 weeks, 1 hour per week, including:
(1) postures, (2) sessions: heaviness, warmth, heartbeat, respiration, internal warmth, and cooling of the forehead, (3) ending of autogenic state, and (4) summary. I also suggest that the exercises need to be practiced three times daily.
There are more authors who contributed to the development and application of the autogenic training method, that you may want to read to learn more about it. Thus, the readings I recommend, include Autogenic Training: A Mind-Body Approach, Autogenic Training: A Mind-Body Approach for Stress Management, Autogenics 3.0: The New Way to Mindfulness and Meditation, and Stress Management with Autogenic Training.
Autogenic Training proved to be a valuable psychophysiological method of therapy. Developed by Dr. J.H. Schultz in 1920, and used with great success by Dr. Schultz’s students it is still used today all over the world. Research found excellent results in (1) Blood volume changes, (2) Reduction in cholesterol values, (3) stress reduction, reduction of cortisol levels, (4) gastrointestinal improvements, (5) heart rate improvements, (6) respiration improvements, (7) angina symptoms improvement, (8) asthma symptoms improvement, (9) childbirth-reduction of pre-labour anxiety and labour pain, (10) headache intensity and frequency reduction, (11) hypertension reduction, (12) insomnia reduction, and (13) anxiety. Therefore, I suggest that this therapy may be used when you have issues with your health and wellness. However, I suggest you firstly discuss the use of autogenic training with your medical doctor. Please do not jump into using this therapy without having your medical doctor’s permission and proper training provided by an Autogenic Training Practitioner.
Jencks, B 1973, Exercise manual for J.H. Schultz’s Standard Autogenic Training and Special Formulas, AlphaGraphics, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Kermani, K 1996, Autogenic Training-the effective holistic way to better health, Souvenir Press, London.
Linden, W 1990, Autogenic Training a Clinical Guide, The Guilford Press, New York, USA.
Schultz, JH & Luthe, W 1969, Autogenic Methods, Grune & Stratton, New York and London.
About the author
I am a professional coach, therapist, mentor, counsellor, leader, manager, and project manager. I have more than 30-years of work experience including Coaching, Mentoring, Counselling, Hypnotherapy, NLP, TimeLine Therapy, Thought Field Therapy, and Autogenic Training. In addition to my vast work experience I have a wide range of academic qualifications, and certifications, including Doctorate in Clinical Hypnotherapy, Master of Business, Master of Project Management, Master of Information Technology & Communication, Master of Business Coaching, Diploma of Autogenic Training, Diploma of Stress Management, Diploma of Psychology, and Diploma of Weight Loss. I am a full member of several professional associations, including the International Coaching Federation, Australian Traditional Medicine Society, and International Mentoring Association.
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