Imagery is a range of techniques that focuses and directs the imagination. Imagery techniques range from simple visualization to direct story telling. By involving the senses in the absence of competing cues, imagery enables the body to respond to thoughts as if it was a true external experience (Rossman, 2006).
Potential Application for Children with Cancer
Children with cancer can use imagery to help with stress reduction during cancer treatment prior to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation as well as in survivorship to provide motivation for behavioral change. Visualization allows the child to feel in control of their healing process and may help manage anxiety and pain.
How is Imagery used in the hospital and outpatient clinic?
The Child Life specialists offer children and teens the opportunities to learn guided imagery techniques. Projects such as imagination scrapbooks, relaxation pillows, or animal masks, use a five-sense approach to creating therapeutic images of children. These images, created at a non-threatening time, can be incorporated into painful and anxiety producing procedures or long hospital stays. The Child Life staff is also trained in Peggy Huddleston’s technique “Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster.” This mind-body program uses visualization for preparation and support prior to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Child Life specialists and Integrative Therapies team providers are available Monday thru Friday 9am-5pm for individual imagery sessions.
Rossman, M.L. (2006). Imagery. In D Rakel & N Faas (Eds.), Complementary Medicine in Clinical Practice (pp. 185-200). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.