What to expect – Autogenic training

What does the teacher do?

As with most types of alternative therapy, your first step will be an initial personal assessment. This is when your therapist will take the time to learn about any medical history you might have and what the problem is. It is important that you provide your therapist with as much information as possible as this will enable them to develop a thorough and personal treatment plan.

Because Autogenic training is held in high esteem in the medical world and is used by the NHS, it could be that you’ve been referred for treatment for a specific medical condition, meaning you will require very careful monitoring throughout the course. Unless the therapist is medically qualified, it will also mean close co-operation between your therapist and GP or physician.

Once you have had your initial consultation your therapist will be able to form an exercise plan which is tailored to treating your problem. Each exercise will focus on a different bodily organ and will require the repetition of a simple formula whilst focusing attention on sensations which are associated with relaxation.

In order for the exercises to be a success they must be carried out in a state of passive concentration. It may sound complicated but this is something your therapist will talk you through and it basically means you need to complete the exercises without having a goal or an outcome in mind. In doing so your body is able to naturally achieve optimum function.

When the course is nearing completion you should have reached the stage where you are able to practice the exercises and achieve passive concentration without help in a variety of everyday situations. This will allow integration of the Autogenic training into everyday life and will mean the benefits can be experienced for the next week, month, year or life, depending on how long the system is continued.

The six autogenic ‘formulas’ or states

As mentioned previously, Schulz developed six standard ‘formulas’ which are now the basis of most Autogenic training techniques around the world. The ‘formulas’ or ‘states’ are as follows:

  1. focus on heaviness in the arms and legs
  2. focus on warmth in the arms and legs
  3. focus on warmth and heaviness in the heart area
  4. focus on breathing
  5. focus on warmth in the abdomen
  6. focus on coolness in the forehead.

The first two formulas are usually broken down, with focus on the dominant arm first. For each of the above you will usually be asked to recite a phrase silently with closed eyes, for instance “my legs feel heavy”. It is recommended each be practiced three times a day for 10 – 15 minutes each. Once your therapist feels you’ve achieved a satisfactory level you will then move onto the next ‘formula’.

How many sessions will I need?

Courses will usually cover a period of between 8 to 10 weeks, ether individually or in small groups. The exercises learnt are to be practiced for 10 – 15 minutes three times a day and it is a good idea to keep a diary of experiences so your therapist can monitor the progress you are making at home.

How can it help me?

People from all walks of life experiencing all kinds of ailments can reap the benefits of Autogenic training. Not only can it be used to treat a variety of ailments and injuries, but it is also used by people of an artistic nature to enhance performance and creativity. It’s even been reported to have helped airline pilots adjust to jet-lag, astronauts adjust to space and businesses frequently use it to keep work stresses at bay. Even though you might not be about to rocket off into space, there are numerous other issues that can benefit from Autogenic training. Contact a practitioner directly for more details.

What qualifications and experience should therapists have?

Autogenic training is not currently regulated by law in the UK meaning there are no set guidelines as to what training and experience is needed in order to practice as a therapist.

However, practitioners do have the option of registering with a professional association that will usually have its own membership criteria and code of ethics, giving reassurance to those searching for a therapist that their practitioner is qualified, experienced and working to certain standards of good practice