Various forms of guided imagery have been used for centuries, as far back as ancient Greek times, and the technique is an established approach in Chinese medicine and American Indian traditions as well as other healing and religious practices.
In the early 1970s, inspired by the pioneering work of Irving Oyle, Carl and Stephanie Simonton, Robert Assagioli and others, Drs. David Bresler and Martin Rossman began to develop and research contemporary imagery approaches for patients coping with chronic pain, immune dysfunction, cancer, heart disease, and other catastrophic and life-threatening illnesses.
By integrating techniques originating from Jungian psychology, Gestalt therapy, Psych synthesis, Ericksonian hypnotherapy, object relations theory, humanistic psychology, and advanced communications theory, these approaches were constantly redefined, expanded, tested, and codified, giving birth to Interactive Guided Imagery’s, an extremely powerful, yet remarkably safe and rapid therapeutic approach for mobilizing the untapped healing resources of the mind.
In 1985, an alternative health advocate and pioneer in guided imagery named Jeanne Achterberg published Imagery in Healing. This influential book explores the systematic use of imagery and the positive impact it can have on the course of illness and its ability to help patients cope with pain. The book brought together modern research with the practice of early healers with her claim that imagery is the oldest and most powerful form of healing in the world. This book is now a classic in the alternative medicine field.
Another early advocate of guided imagery was Leslie Davenport, who founded the Humanities Program at Marin General Hospital in the late 1980’s. Davenport’s book, “Healing and Transformation Through Self-Guided Imagery” discusses tantric yoga, a practice that influenced Buddhism and Hinduism, which encouraged followers to visualize a sacred image with the belief that gods speak to human beings through imagery.
In 1989, the Academy for Guided Imagery was founded to provide in-depth training for clinicians and health educators, to raise public and professional awareness about the benefits of imagery, and to support research, professional communication, and the dissemination of imagery-related information.
Since then, the Academy has obtained professional accreditation, recruited an interdisciplinary faculty, sponsored and conducted clinical research, and set the highest contemporary standards for Professional Certification in Interactive Guided Imagery’s.