Research: WATANABE and others,

Listed in Issue 138


WATANABE and others, Department Health Promotion and Human Behavior, Kyoto University Graduate School of Public Health, Japan, have explored differences in relaxation response in people using guided imagery.


The aim of this study was to investigate differences in relaxation induced by guided imagery in healthy community samples. In guided imagery protocols for relaxation, unpleasant information which causes mental stress is replaced by a comfortable image. The greater one’s imagery ability, the more successful the displacement of stress and the shift toward a comfortable mental and emotional state will be.


148 people took part in this investigation. The mean age of the 50 males and 98 females was 39.36 +/- 11.86 years. Saliva samples were taken to measure salivary cortisol before the first session, after the first session, and after the second session. Subjects were asked to complete the short form of the Multiple Mood Scale questionnaire before the first session and after the second session. The shortened form of Betts’ Questionnaire upon Mental Imagery was collected once, and vividness of the imagery was measured using a visual analogue scale.


Salivary cortisol levels were significantly decreased after the first session and after the second session in all participants. It was found, most significantly, that age and Betts’ Questionnaire upon Mental Imagery scores were strongly related to changes in salivary cortisol level throughout the relaxation sessions.


This study provides a basis for explaining the mechanism through which relaxation by means of guided imagery is effective in reducing stress.


Watanabe E, Fukuda S, Hara H, Maeda Y, Ohira H, Shirakawa T. Differences in relaxation by means of guided imagery in a healthy community sample. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine 12 (2): 60-66, Mar-Apr 2006.

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