Autogenic Training for Chronic Pain 2019 Autumn Programme
Please note this 10 week programme is only being offered to fully paid members of Chronic Pain Ireland.
Dr Shelagh Wright is deliving an Autogenic Training programme for Chronic Pain Ireland. Autogenic Training is a specific technique of deep relaxation which consists of learning a series of simple mental exercises designed to turn off the stressful ‘fight-flight’ mechanism in the body and turn on the restorative rhythms associated with profound relaxation. In general, the effects of AT on the mind and body may be considered as being diametrically opposed to changes brought about by stress (Luthe & Schultz, 1969).
In contrast to conventional medical treatment, complementary therapies are selected by patients themselves. Therefore, patients’ perception of the potential of the therapy to be of benefit to them, either to help with symptom control, induce relaxation or in some way to assist in stress and anxiety reduction, is of major importance. Considerations of efficacy and safety apply equally to the areas of complementary and conventional treatment (Ernst, 1997; Penson, 1998).
Autogenic Training (known as AT) is a specific technique of deep relaxation. The technique consists of learning a series of simple mental exercises designed to turn off the stressful ‘fight-flight’ mechanism in the body and turn on the restorative rhythms associated with profound relaxation. In general, the effects of AT on the mind and body may be considered as being diametrically opposed to changes brought about by stress (Luthe & Schultz, 1969).
Autogenic Training originated at the beginning of the 20th century. Johann Schultz, a German neurologist, became deeply interested in hypnosis and observed that his hypnotised patients regularly reported two distinct sensations: ‘a heaviness especially in the limbs’ and ‘a sensation of warmth’. AT can be described as a technique of deep relaxation the aim of which is to enable the person, through passive concentration, to revert from a state of arousal associated with sympathetic activity of the autonomic nervous system to one of profound relaxation associated with parasympathetic activity (Luthe & Schultz, 1969; Benor, 1996).
Carruthers (1979) described AT as follows: ‘AT is experienced as a pleasant relaxation technique. It is simple, easy and requires no special practice clothing or difficult postures. Proceeding through gentle mental exercises in body awareness progressively involving the limbs, heart and circulatory system, the breathing and nervous system, almost anyone can learn to experience passive concentration, which is the essence of the Autogenic State. The ability to do this at will breaks through the vicious circle of excessive stress whatever the origins.’ AT aims to obtain voluntary control over the involuntary nervous system (Carruthers, 1979). Through training the trainee can easily recognise the heaviness of deep muscle relaxation and the warmth of vasodilatation.
Each week will build upon the skills acquired in the previous week, the aim being to facilitate a physiological shift in autonomic function from the sympathetically enhanced stress-dominated state to a more relaxed state enhanced by parasympathetic function (Selye, 1956; Gregson & Looker, 1996). Throughout the training programme the Participant will be required to practice the AT exercise three time daily, keep a daily AT and pain diary and to record their comments regarding their personal perceived benefits of AT.