• Acupuncture has been shown to help chronic stress. The journal for The Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine shares promising findings where acupuncture is effective in preventing one of the sympathetic pathways stimulated during chronic stress, and thus may be a useful adjunct therapy in stress-related disorders. I have certainly heard this before and look forward to someone proving this helps humans, as well as the rats used in this study!
• Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use is now better understood. A recent study by The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice found that those who use CAM regularly for their general health report having better health than those who turned to CAM only to treat a specific illness. This makes sense to me!
David Bresler, Ph.D., L.Ac teaches that IGI helps us to effectively enhance our own self-management and self-care resulting in greater patient autonomy1.
Did you catch that? It means we don’t have to be quite so dependent on pharmaceuticals. Yes, there is a place for medicine, but there are even more places for complimentary and alternative treatment when drugs may not be the answer. According to Bresler, IGI is a highly interactive, non-judgmental, content free style of imagery which can help a person in pain draw upon their own inner resources to explore the meaning of their symptoms. This is assisted by the IGI guide having trust in the client’s abilities to identify healing resources and finding solutions to their problem2.
It all begins with discussion about what the client wants to achieve in the session, whether they are familiar with guided imagery and how they like to go into relaxation. This is not to be confused with hypnosis. It is similar in that the client, when in a relaxed state is in a “light trance”. I love Bresler’s definition of trance: a state of focused attention.
Ann shares that she would like to figure out what her excruciating back pain is all about and is interested in having a dialog with the pain. She chooses to relax by being guided through a visualization exercise.
I then ask Ann to picture an image representing her pain. After a moment or two she reports seeing a gnome-like figure and describes it as looking like a gremlin who has a scrunched up face, big nose and wearing a red hat. It is important that she describe the first thing she sees. I instructed Ann to ask the gnome what his name was to which he replied with “Petey Pain.”
Ann questioned why Petey would show up to this beautiful, peaceful place just to cause pain. Petey’s response to her was that “everyone experiences pain in their lives and life would be boring if there were no pain. The key is for people to create balance in their lives.” He continued on to say that “pain helps you to grow, it builds character, making you stronger, teaching you lessons, you learn from it. You sometimes cannot appreciate not being in pain unless you have experienced some pain. Since your physical pain was self-induced you should learn to be more aware of your body and not take such drastic measures to try and get in shape.“
Ann shared she had started another jogging routine, after a long absence, without starting back slowly. She said she started where she left off with the same mileage she used to run, hence the lower back pain. Petey went on to instruct Ann to change her workout routine to take into account her body’s response as well as her increasing age. He also urged her to be patient.
Ideally, holding two to three IGI sessions around a particular issue such as this can help the client incorporate recommended changes. Since Ann was going out of town, we reviewed through email any further thoughts about the session and I wanted to see if she had followed any of Petey’s recommendations. Ann said she has been walking for 20 minutes several times a week now. She reported that her back is somewhat better, not all better by any means; and she may still need to see a physician about it. She also shared that Petey helped her with acceptance and rather than get upset about being in pain, she is now working on doing something about it.
As we consider the messages Ann received from Petey to: change her exercise routine; live more in the moment; don’t try to be busy 24/7; have patience and do something good for yourself, one could surmise that Petey could even be Ann’s inner advisor. This is a term used in IGI for a wise, helpful being that resides in all of us who we just need to call upon for advice or guidance when desired. We’ll get more into learning about the inner advisor in some future blog posts. For now, I want to stress the importance of quieting the mind to allow us to access that part of ourselves that truly does look out for our best interests.
The advice Petey gave may seem trivial to some and that is understandable to a degree. However when people are in pain, emotional distress, or stress in general, they often aren’t thinking as clearly and may overlook what might seem obvious to someone else. It is then we can all benefit from assistance in finding these solutions within ourselves. As you may well know, our solutions can be much more compelling when they are our own ideas.
Stay tuned as my next post will continue to share insights from real client sessions.
If you are a Physician, Psychologist, Nurse, Mental Health Counselor, Social Worker, Marriage & Family Therapist or Patient Advocate who is interested in treating the psychosocial effects of cancer you need to be aware of The American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS). Their mission is to advance the science and practice of psychosocial care for those with cancer and their families. They are offering a webinar on Thursday, November 3, 2011 for a broad audience of psychosocial oncology professionals who may be interested in starting a program providing psychosocial support for cancer patients and caregivers. The webinar features three experts from across the country who were successful in acquiring funding and support for their institutions. The discussion will include the primary funding models that worked for them: institutional resources, fee-for-service and philanthropic endeavors.
CEUs are not available at this time.
APOS is also presenting their ninth annual conference February 23-25, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The theme of this conference is Reducing Health Disparities in Quality Cancer Care: Psychosocial Research, Practice and Outreach.
I attended last year’s conference in New Orleans and was quite pleased with APOS as an organization and with the program offered. I found this event to be extremely well-organized and the APOS members most welcoming since it was my first attendance. The breakout sessions and symposiums provided thought provoking topics on Palliative Care, Survivorship Issues, Resilience in Cancer Patients, Integrative Oncology Practice Guidelines, Distress Screening and Meet the Expert Luncheons to name just a few. Some of the experts speaking were Jimmie Holland, MD; Harold Freeman, MD; Paul Jacobsen; PhD and Julia Rowland, PhD. Attending a conference of this caliber also offers a great opportunity to network with these and other professionals in the field.
For more details and to register for either event visit the APOS web site.
First of all, this isn't about Guided Imagery, but I'm posting this conference because I'm in town to attend it and reunite with old friends and former co-workers. That, and I will be campaigning to make Guided Imagery an agenda item for their next conference! The Pinellas County Oncology Nursing Society (PCON) is a great group and their annual Navigating Cancer Care Symposium, co-presented with Suncoast Hospice (the nation's largest Hospice organization and, coincidentally, a former employer of mine) is a great value for nurses, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, social workers and nursing home administrators looking to pick up 6 contact hours of CEUs.
The conference is this Saturday, September 17th, from 8:00 until 3:30 at The Gathering Place, on the beautiful campus of The Suncoast Hospice, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd, Clearwater, FL. PCONS Members: $30.00, Non-Member: $40.00, Students: $25.00. The cost Includes lunch and breaks.
Contact PCONS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've included the symposium's schedule below. Hope to see you there!8:00 - 8:25 Coffee/ Registration/ Vendor Exhibits
8:25 Welcome - Rita King, RN, MSN, OCN
8:30 - 9:30 Alternative Sympton Management: Getting to the Point with Acupuncture
Kirksak Jay Poonkasem MD, Suncoast Hospice
9:30 - 10:30 Update on Surgical Treatment for Gynecology Cancers
Tyler Kirby MD, FACOG, West Coast Gynecologic Oncology
10:30 - 10:45 Break and Vendor Exhibits
10:45 - 11:45 New Techniques for Tissue Diagnosis of Lung Cancer
Shea Eckerdt MD, Pulmonary/Critical Care, Bay Area Chest Physicians
11:45 - 12:45 Managing Anemia in Chronic Renal Insufﬁciency of the Oncology Patient
Kit Meador RN, BSN, OCN, Florida Cancer Specialists
12:45 - 1:30 Lunch and Vendor Exhibits
1:30 - 2:30 Breast Cancer Navigator Role
Mary Reilly, RN, OCN, CBHN, Morton Plant Mease HealthCare
2:30 - 3:30 Stress Survival Care
Dr. Robert L. Arnold, Ed.D, M.A., Suncoast Hospice
3:30 Questions/Evaluations/Grand Prize Drawing
My name is Elena Parsons. I am a Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Certified Interactive Guided Imagery℠ practitioner. I utilize guided imagery techniques to help clients cope with their medical condition and manage pain. The majority of my clients are cancer patients, but guided imagery can be extremely helpful in many different scenarios, from cardiac patients to smokers wanting to quit.
The goal of this blog is simple: To share my thoughts, ideas and observations about guided imagery; to feature patients, practitioners and physicians who are successfully utilizing guided imagery; and to draw your attention to new research, information and events you may find useful.
Though I received my certification from the Academy for Guided Imagery (AGI) and was trained by Dr. David Bresler, one of the founders of the Interactive Guided Imagery℠ movement, I am, by no means, the most experienced or knowledgeable practitioner. Please think of me as your humble host, only wanting to advocate greater understanding and usage of guided imagery by bringing together patients, practitioners and physicians to share their own experiences.
This is my first blog, so things may start off a little rocky at first. I would appreciate your patience. More importantly, I would be grateful for your participation. I want to feature your work, your successes and failures (we can, after all, learn from both), any opportunities you're willing to share (seminars and workshops, publications and new articles, even job openings), and any observations you're willing to make.
Above all, because there are always differing opinions, I'll remind that I am here to help people, and expect others participating here to have the same motivation. Let's please keep our dialog civil and professional.
Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey into the amazing world of guided imagery.
Elena Parsons, LMHC