Autogenic training (AT) is a self-regulation technique used for relaxation, stress management, and emotional control. Developed in the early 20th century by German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz, AT is a form of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy that uses visualizations and self-statements to induce relaxation and ease psychological stress (Kappen et al., 2017).
AT has been used for a variety of purposes, such as reducing anxiety, improving concentration and focus, managing chronic pain, and improving sleep. It is based on the notion that an individual can influence their own physical and psychological state through self-statements and visualizations (Kappen et al., 2017). AT typically involves six progressive stages which involve visualizing and repeating specific phrases such as “I am calm and peaceful” and “My arms and legs are heavy and warm” (Hermann, 2016).
In recent years, AT has been used to treat a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Studies have found that AT can be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and can be used to improve sleep and coping skills (Hermann, 2016). One study found that AT was particularly effective in reducing rumination, a cognitive process associated with depression and anxiety (Kappen et al., 2017).
AT can be used as an adjunct to more traditional forms of psychological treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In one study, AT was used in conjunction with CBT and found to be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD (Dahl et al., 2015). Other studies have found that AT can be used to reduce stress and anxiety in college students (Hermann, 2016).
AT is considered to be a safe and effective way to manage stress and anxiety. It is relatively easy to learn and can be practiced in the comfort of one’s own home. However, as with any form of therapy, it is important to consult a mental health professional before attempting to use AT as a form of self-care.
Dahl, J., Wilson, K., Klepac, L., & Bryant, R. A. (2015). Autogenic training plus cognitive behavioural therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. BMC Psychiatry, 15(1), 1-9.
Hermann, D. (2016). Autogenic training for stress management. The American Journal of Nursing, 116(11), 44-51.
Kappen, J., van Wijk, A. M., van Breukelen, G. J. P., & Bögels, S. M. (2017). Autogenic training for anxiety disorders: A systematic review. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 24(4), 671-682.