Autogenic Training is a relaxation technique similar to self-hypnosis.
It was developed by the German psychologist and psychiatrist Johannes-Heinrich Schulz (1884-1970) in the early 1920s and is widely used today by psychotherapists and interested individuals all over the world.
When we practice Autogenic Training we access and influence the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) with autosuggestions. The ANS is the part of the nervous system responsible for regulation and control of those body functions and physical reactions that take place below our level of consciousness, involuntarily and reflexively. Examples are the regulation of our heart-beat rate, our respiratory system, our blood pressure and our digestive system. Most people are usually not aware of these things happening, they happen below their level of consciousness.
The ANS is divided into three parts:
- The Sympathetic Nervous System, which is responsible for the so-called fight/flight reactions. When we feel fear of or threatened by something, our heart-beat rate increases, our breathing changes, our blood pressure goes up and our digestion slows down. Our body is ready to either fight the situation or to escape from it.
- The Parasympathetic Nervous System, which is in action in all situations of relaxation and rest. When we feel relaxed and safe and know that we can rest, our heart-beat rate decreases, our breath is calm and regular, our blood pressure goes down and our digestive system functions much better.
- The enteric nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system we don’t hear much about. It is a meshwork of nerve fibers that innervate the viscera (gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and gall bladder).
But why would we want to influence our ANS?
To understand this, think of someone with an anxiety disorder. A person with an anxiety disorder feels constantly threatened by life and life events – even the thought of going to work or of meeting people at a birthday party can become a cause of extreme anxiety. That means that in a person experiencing an anxiety disorder the Sympathetic Nervous System (fight/flight reaction) is much more active than in a person without anxiety disorder. The body of such a person is constantly under stress and ready to fight or escape. For a body to be constantly under stress is very unhealthy. Since it is unhealthy to go on like this for a long period of time, and this may indeed have physical consequences in form of constant stomach pain or other physical complaints in form of aches and pains or a constant ill-feeling, the problem should be addressed. The anxiety disorder can be addressed with medication or psychotherapy which both works in order to reduce the anxiety. But it is equally beneficial to address the problem through the physical symptoms of the anxiety disorder, and it has been shown that removing the physical symptoms has an effect on the anxiety as well as removing the anxiety has an effect on the physical symptoms. Autogenic Training is the method with which we can take an influence.
We can influence our ANS with Autogenic Training so that our reactions coming from the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system are balanced which helps us to become happier, healthier and stronger in all areas of our life…
Autogenic Training uses the method of autosuggestion
The method of autosuggestion is very old and based on our knowledge that what we are repeatedly told by others/our environment or tell ourselves influences the way we think and feel how we behave, what we believe and how we experience our world. It was first mentioned by the French pharmacist and author Émile Coué (1857 – 1926) who discovered that the extent to which his customers recovered from their illnesses depended very much on what he said to them when he handed them their medicine: When he said something uplifting and positive about recovery like: “If you take this medication regularly, you will recover very soon from your illness!”, they recovered much better than when he said something vague or nothing at all. Émile Coué’s discovery is the foundation of autosuggestion. The phenomenon Coué discovered with his patients plays an important part everywhere in our life: what others or our environment repeatedly tell us and what we repeatedly tell ourselves has a huge impact on what we think and how we feel, how we behave, what we believe and, ultimately, how we experience our world.
Schulz developed Autogenic Training based on Émile Coués discovery of autosuggestions which he found confirmed in his work with patients in the mental hospital in Berlin, Germany. He, too, found that the extent to which patients reacted positively to treatments would depend on how he approached them. But Schulz also found that the most important thing in recovery was that people’s minds and emotions were calm and their bodies relaxed. As a combination of both autosuggestions and his idea that relaxation is an essential part in curing any kind of mental illness and that such relaxation could be achieved through influencing the ANS with its often involuntary and reflexive reactions Autogenic Training was developed.
Some of the effects of Autogenic Training are:
- To relax our whole being
- To let go of disturbing thoughts, memories and emotions
- To reduce stress
- To improve sleep-patterns
- To break through habitual patterns
- To increase energy levels
- To improve our ability to concentrate and stay focused
Autogenic training is for everyone. It can be learned and used by everyone and is a helpful tool for us to manage our life much better.
Autogenic Training is taught over 8 sessions (one session per week). It can be taught both in a group or a one-to-one training. During each of the first six sessions, you will learn one of the Autogenic Training affirmations and there will be plenty of time for practice and questions. At the beginning of each session, the affirmation from the last session will be repeated and then connected with the new affirmation; so that, at the end of session six, you will have learned and practiced all six affirmations or autosuggestions. The last two sessions will be practice sessions during which you will go through the whole set as often as possible to get used to the feeling and technique. Again, there will be plenty of time for questions.
You will receive a MP3-file which enables you to practice Autogenic Training at home by following my words; something especially useful during your first couple of months of practice and in times when your own concentration may not be good enough to say the affirmations to yourself.
Autogenic Training cannot be offered in single sessions. Autogenic Training is a self-help method which consists of several steps which have to be learned and practised precisely, and the aim of Autogenic Training is to enable the client to practise Autogenic Training in any given situation themselves. Autogenic Training is only available as a course.