What is Autogenic Therapy (AT)?
AT is a powerful method of stress management. ‘Autogenic’ means ‘self-generated’ which means you can do it on your own and there is no special equipment needed. The technique takes about ten weeks to learn, and after that you are independent to practise it on your own indefinitely. It involves sitting or lying down with your eyes closed and doing silent mental exercises. The exercises take about ten minutes to do and should be done two or three times a day.
How does AT help to reduce stress?
Stress is a fact of life which we cannot always control, but we can learn how to manage stress so it affects us less. Each person has their own unique circumstances which causes them stress, but we all react to stress in very similar ways. AT teaches us how to switch off the fight/flight/freeze stress response (of the sympathetic nervous system) and to switch on the rest/repair/recuperate state (of the parasympathetic nervous system). This recuperative state restores a healthy balance in mind and body remarkably rapidly regardless of whatever caused the stress in the first place.
Is AT just for stress or is it good for other things too?
AT is very helpful for creativity, art, music, sport, lateral thinking in business, and education. Studies have shown that the Autogenic Technique increases the activity in the corpus callosum, which links the right and left sides of the brain. This balances the analytic and emotional sides of the brain, which in turn encourages lateral and creative thinking. Most people find that persistent daily practice over a period of time helps them to think more clearly, realistically and creatively. It is also very effective when used alongside counselling and psychotherapy because it allows deep feelings to surface slowly and safely, and facilitates greater creativity in resolving issues. In fact, the AT exercises were initially designed by the Viennese psychiatrist and neurologist Dr Johannes Schultz to help psychoanalytic patients to access unconscious material and so facilitate the process of psychoanalysis. However, the technique proved to be so beneficial in itself that it became a therapy in its own right.
Can you take medicines and have other kinds of therapy with AT?
AT works well with any other treatment you may be receiving from your doctor as it has been shown to speed healing and assist the immune system. It also works well alongside most other therapies except for hypnotherapy. If you are having hypnotherapy it is better to wait until that treatment has finished before starting AT.
Is AT available on the NHS or in other countries?
At the moment there are very few places in the UK where AT is available on the NHS, however it is hoped that this will change. AT has been shown to have such a beneficial on heart patients that it has been taught in NHS Cardiac units. It has also been used in the military to help soldiers manage battle stress. In France, many doctors teach the Autogenic Technique to their patients, and in Germany it is routinely taught in secondary schools. It is also used in commercial businesses in Japan where it has be shown to boost productivity and reduce absenteeism.
It is suitable for people of all ages from 10 to 90+ years.