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Implementing Autogentic Relaxation Training

Posted by Tyler Bradstreet,

Hello All,

Provided below is an abbreviated transcript on how to use autogenics with your clients.

Autogenic training is a relaxation technique created by German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz and first published in 1932. Simply speaking, Autogenics progressively re-trains the brain to respond to stress in a more relaxed and adaptive way. It promotes the overall healing process that can be used for recovery from illness or injury, as well as from any emotional or other kind of stress. Although it does take time AND practice, autogenics is relatively easy to learn and implement into your routine. Once learned, the benefits are ongoing and can be successfully used in any number of situations, including sports training and performance.

There are many examples of the use of Autogenics in sport.  Competitors in the fields of cycling, golf, athletics, tennis, equestrian sports, archery, pistol shooting, weight lifting as well as team sports such as baseball, football, and basketball have all used Autogenics to improve their performance and recovery.  Many of the athletes taking part in last summer’s Olympic Games will have trained in Autogenics.

Autogenics helps to maximize potential in sport, by clearing emotional blocks, such as performance anxiety.  It can also facilitate greater motivation to train, the maintenance of a positive mental attitude and improved concentration, coordination and focus.  Research has also shown that Autogenics can help prevent injury by reducing tense muscles and also helps speed recovery time after injury.

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Autogenics is not just for enhancing performance and recovery in sport.  Over 3,000 clinical studies have shown Autogenics to be effective in treating a range of physical health disorders, reducing anxiety, fears and phobias, assisting memory and focus, improving the quality of sleep and inducing a feeling of well-being … and much much more.

The recuperative effects of Autogenics are remarkable. A 15 minute session of Autogenics has the rest and recovery benefits of 3-4 hours sleep. Now that in itself makes Autogenics well worth learning!

One of the many benefits of Autogenics is that it can be used anywhere – and without anyone realizing you are doing it!

Within the Autogenic repertoire of techniques are ones that you can use when you are literally on the go – whether you are training, participating in a competition, performing in front of an audience, or any other situation where you need to be performing at your best.  On the other hand, there are also more in-depth techniques that you can use when you have a little more time to chill out and recover from the stresses of the day.

Autogenic Training helps you to control the normal stresses, anxieties and fears associated with performance/competition. Autogenics also helps keep you centered, calm and relaxed before your performance/competition so that you can conserve all of your resources leading up to the event and then have the focus needed to achieve the success that you are aiming for.

You can use Autogenics to ‘train’ for your event by mentally rehearsing your performance when you are in an Autogenic state. This way you can train anywhere at any time, regardless of whether you have access to any real training facilities. A famous study has shown that competition golfers who used visualization techniques for their practice without lifting a golf club pre-competition, performed just as well as those golfers who did partake in pre-competition training, and they out-performed those who, like themselves, had no ‘real’ practice leading up to the competition.

Autogenic Training helps you focus more effectively, positively and creatively on your pre-event rehearsals, preparations, practice and performance no matter whether your performance is a competition, a sales pitch, a speech or an important report or exam.

Regardless of the nature of your performance, Autogenic Training enables you to refresh yourself and replenish your energy source, allowing you to train, study or work for longer periods without getting exhausted mentally or physically.

As I previously mentioned, attached below is a script I created for an autogenic training session. Feel free to use it as is, or tweak it to fit your style.

Enjoy!

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Autogenic Relaxation Training

Objective

– Demonstrate the ability to relax the body and reduce stress through self-regulation.

Group Size

– 1 to 10 healthy, motivated individuals who are committed to learning.

– Not recommended for individuals younger than 5 years of age.

– Not recommended for individuals with severe mental disorders.

– Individuals should consult with a doctor if they have diabetes or a heart condition.

Prerequisite Skills

– Ability to quietly sit (or lie) in the same position and focus for at least 15 minutes.

Time Required

– 15 to 30 minutes.

Preparation and Materials

– Room that will allow for quietness.

– Enough chairs and mats to accommodate entire group.

–  Optional items: background music (soft environmental sounds or ethereal “new age”)

Voice Preparation

– Begin with conversational tone.

– Voice should parallel progression of session (e.g., voice decreases volume and speed).

Part A – Preparing the Room

– A dimly lit, quiet room for the session.

– Appropriate music for the session (optional).

– Appropriate number of mats and chairs to accommodate clients.

– Bring clients into the prepared room.

– Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down.

– Remove shoes and any tight or uncomfortable clothing.

– There is no talking once the session begins.

– It is okay to sneeze, cough, etc. because holding back can produce stress.

– One may encounter strange, new feelings during the session, which is normal.

– Take a moment to settle in. Notice how your body feels currently.

Part B – Warm up: Breathing Exercise

– Once comfortable, close eyes.

– Begin by breathing deeply, drawing air in, deep into your lungs, and releasing slowly.

– Breathe in…2…3…4…

– Hold…2…3…

– Exhale…2…3…4…5…

– Breathe in…2…3…4…

– Hold…2…3…

– Exhale…2…3…4…5…

– Continue this pattern, taking slow regular breaths. Notice yourself relaxing.

Part C – Warmth and Heaviness: Feet

– Imagine the areas of tension in your body relax a little each time you exhale.

– Starting with your feet, begin to relax your body.

– Notice your feet are becoming warm and relaxed.  Begin to focus on your left foot.

– Feel the bottom of your left foot becoming warmer. Feel your toes warming.

– Feel the top of your foot warming. Your entire left foot is warm.

– Now, notice your right foot (repeat statements made regarding left foot).

– A feeling of warmth and heaviness is very pleasant. Feel the warmth in your feet.

Part D – Warmth and Heaviness: Legs

– Feel the warmth increasing, as it begins to continue up your ankles, and your lower legs.

– All the while, breathing in…2…3…4…

– Holding…2…3…

– Exhaling…2…3…4…5…

– Notice how both entire legs are feeling warm, heaving, and completely relaxed.

Part E – Warmth and Heaviness: Hands

– As the warmth is growing in your feet and legs, turn your attention to your hands.

– Notice your right hand warming. Feel the warmth in each finger, starting at the tips.

– The warmth spreads throughout your fingers, continuing to the palm of your hand.

– Feel the back of your right hand warming as well.

– Now, notice your left hand (repeat statements made regarding right hand).

– Your left hand is completely warm. Feel the warmth in your hands increasing.

– Your hands are very warm, very heavy, and completely relaxed.

Part F – Warmth and Heaviness: Arms

– The warmth continues to your wrists, and down through your lowers arms.

– This pleasant feeling of warmth continues to your elbows, your upper arms.

– It continues all the way to your shoulders. Your arms and hands are very warm.

– They are very warm and heavy, and completely relaxed.

– Turn your attention again to your feet and legs. Notice the warmth in your feet and legs.

Part G – Warmth and Heaviness: Torso/Mid-section

– The warmth spreads to your knees, thighs, and all the way to your hips.

– Your legs are warm and heavy, and completely relaxed.

– Feel the core of your body relaxing. A feeling of warmth begins in the center of your body.

– Feel the warmth in your stomach. Feel the warmth going up through your chest.

– Feel it continue all the way up to your neck. Feel it all over the front of your body.

– All the way from your hips to you neck is warm, heavy, and completely relaxed.

Part H – Warmth and Heaviness:  Neck and Back

– Focus on the small of your back. Feel this area warming and relaxing.

– Allow the warmth to continue from your lower back, to your middle back.

– Allow it to continue all the way to your upper back. Your back is warm, heavy, relaxed.

– Concentrate on your neck, feeling how warm and relaxed your neck has become.

– Feel the relaxation in your entire body. Enjoy the feeling of warmth and heaviness.

Part I – Warmth and Heaviness: Just Relax and Enjoy

– Feel the relaxation in your entire body; a feeling of warmth and heaviness.

– Notice how pleasant and relaxed you feel.

– Relax for a few moments longer, soaking in the feelings of calm and warmth.

– All the while, breathing in…2…3…4…

– Holding…2…3…

– Exhaling…2…3…4…5…

– Your body is completely warm, heavy, and relaxed.

Part J – Closing: Bringing them back

– Keeping your eyes closed, give yourself a few moments to wake up your body and mind.

– When you’re ready, open your eyes and slowly move your fingers and toes, arms and legs.

– Stretch a little to wake up sleepy muscles. Take a deep, refreshing breath in and exhale.

– As you are re-awakening, take one more deep breath in, and out.

– When you have returned to your usual level of alertness, the session is complete.

– You can now return to your day feeling calm, relaxed, and refreshed.

Part K – Debriefing

– How do you feel?

– Was that relaxing?

– What did you think about the idea of warmth and heaviness?

– Is this something you would be willing to try on your own?

– At least once a day?

– Any questions, concerns, comments, etc?

Typical Applications

– Most people use autogenic training to relieve the symptoms of stress.

– Can be helpful with problems such as: (a) hyperventilation, (b) asthma, (c) constipation,
(d) stomach spasms, (e) ulcers, (f) racing heartbeat, (g) high blood pressure, (h) cold
hands or feet, (i) headaches, (j) thyroid issues, (k) generalized anxiety, (l) fatigue, and (m)
sleeping disorders.

Effects

– Restores balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the ANS.

– Provide important health benefits (e.g., promote digestion, lowers BP, slows HR)

– Promotes the functions of the immune system.

– Alleviates stress induced psychosomatic disorders.

Possible Problems

– This is not a quick fix. In order to see sustained results, at least 3 months of slow, steady
learning must take place.

– Some clients have a hard time with the idea of letting something happen versus making
something happen.

– Some clients may begin to feel discomfort when sitting/lying in same position for an
extended amount of time.

– Clients may have an issue with intrusive thoughts during the session, due to anxiety, fear,
discomfort, or general lack of focus.

– Clients may fall asleep during the session.

– Ultimately, this is probably a new environment and task for most clients. It may take them
a few sessions to adjust accordingly.

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Until Next Time.

Kind Regards,

Tyler C. Bradstreet, M.S.
Doctoral Student, Counseling Psychology
Teaching Assistant, Department of Psychology
Texas Tech University

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