Guided imagery is used to focus the mind, induce relaxation and shift attention away from the external environment.
It can help reduce anxiety, manage stress, and sleep better. Therapists usually start with instructions for deeper breathing and relaxation. Then, clients develop a story that unfolds peaceful imagery, such as a special place to go to that is beautiful, safe and relaxing. This might be a natural setting like a beach, a forest, or a mountain meadow that invites attention to the senses; the sights, sounds, smells and touch sensations are embodied.
The purpose of this technique is to create in the mind a multi-sensory image of the special place. Once clients are fully relaxed, breathing slowly and mentally occupied with a vivid peaceful image, they are ready to do some inner work.
This might be to create images of the immune system doing its job of cleaning up health problems. It might involve working through emotional issues or gathering emotional resources. It might just suggest that the next step is a restful sleep (Corydon Hammond; Lee Pulos).