Table of Contents > Alternative Modalities > Visualization Print

Visualization

Image

Related terms
Background
Theory
Evidencetable
Tradition
Safety
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Guided imagery, hypnosis, hypnotherapy, imagery, mind- body technique.

Background
  • Visualization involves the controlled use of mental images for therapeutic purposes. It has been proposed that the use of imagery in visualization may correct unhealthy attitudes or views. People who practice this mind-body technique call on memory and imagination. In some regards, visualization is similar to hypnosis or hypnotherapy. The technique is usually practiced alone. Visualization audiotapes are available.

Theory
  • The theoretical basis of visualization is that the mind is able to cure the body when visualized images evoke sensory memory, strong emotions or fantasy. There has been limited scientific study of the effectiveness or safety of visualization. Visualization is sometimes considered a subtype of guided imagery.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Anxiety, cancer, depression, pain, psychological disorders, stress-related disorders.

Safety

Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

  • Visualization is generally regarded as safe in most people, although safety has not been thoroughly studied. In theory, inward focusing may cause pre-existing psychological disorders to surface. Use of visualization should not delay the time it takes to see a health care provider for potentially severe medical conditions.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Cohen MH. Regulation, religious experience, and epilepsy: a lens on complementary therapies. Epilepsy Behav.2003; 4(6): 602-6.
  2. Lang EV, Benotsch EG, Fick LJ, et al. Adjunctive non-pharmacological analgesia for invasive medical procedures: a randomised trial. Lancet 2000;355(9214):1486-1490.
  3. Miyake A, Friedman NP, Rettinger DA, et al. How are visuospatial working memory, executive functioning, and spatial abilities related? A latent-variable analysis. J Exp Psychol Gen 2001;130(4):621-640.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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