While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Autogenic therapy (AT) is an approach that encompasses both mind and body and teaches skills for self-healing and self-development.
Autogenic therapy (AT) uses visual imagery and body awareness to promote a state of deep relaxation. A detached but alert state of mind called “passive concentration” must be achieved for autogenic therapy exercises to be carried out. People participating in autogenic therapy are taught relaxation and body awareness techniques. It is believed that these approaches can then be used indefinitely to promote a healthier lifestyle, allowing people to call on their own capacity for self-healing and stress reduction.
Autogenic therapy was developed in the 1930s by the psychiatrist and neurologist Dr. Johannes Schultz. Dr. Schultz had been influenced by the research of Prof. Oskar Vogt, who had studied psychosomatic medicine. In the 1940s, Dr. Wolfgang Luthe modified the autogenic technique by the addition of repetitive therapeutic suggestions.
Good scientific evidence supports the use of autogenic therapy for the treatment of anxiety. Benefits have been reported in the treatment of headache, asthma, heart disease, and insomnia. However, strong evidence supporting the use of autogenic therapy to treat any condition in humans is lacking.
Autogenic therapy (AT) encompasses both mind and body and aims to teach skills for self-healing and self-development. It is unclear exactly how autogenic therapy may affect the body. It has been suggested, but not proven, that it may work in a manner similar to biofeedback, meditation, or hypnosis.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Limited research suggests that autogenic therapy may aid in the treatment of anxiety. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be made
Autogenic therapy may help alcoholism. However, more research is needed.
Autogenic therapy may help improve performance in professional athletes. However, more research is needed.
Early research suggests that autogenic therapy may aid in the treatment of hyperventilation. Additional research is needed in this area.
Preliminary evidence suggests that autogenic therapy may be beneficial for treatment of bronchial asthma. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
It is unclear if autogenic therapy may be beneficial in the treatment of heart or blood vessel disorders, such as palpitations, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, or cold hands or feet. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Autogenic therapy may help improve symptoms of depression in patients with cancer. Additional research is needed in this area.
Sufficient scientific evidence to support the use of autogenic therapy to treat eczema is lacking. Further research is needed in this area.
Sufficient scientific evidence to support the use of autogenic therapy to treat epilepsy is lacking. Further research is needed in this area.
Limited research suggests that autogenic therapy may aid in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Early research suggests that autogenic therapy may be beneficial for gastrointestinal conditions. Additional research is needed in this area.
Limited research suggests that autogenic therapy may aid in the treatment of glaucoma. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Early evidence suggests that autogenic therapy may help alleviate headaches. Additional research is needed in this area.
Study suggests that autogenic therapy may be beneficial for HIV/AIDS. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Limited research suggests that autogenic therapy may aid in the treatment of infertility. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Improvement in insomnia in cancer patients has been reported with autogenic therapy. Additional clinical research is required before a conclusion can be made.
Limited evidence suggests that autogenic therapy may decrease labor pain. Additional research is required before a conclusion can be made.
|Multiple sclerosis (quality of life)
Early evidence suggests that autogenic therapy may increase energy and vigor and decrease physical and emotional problems in patients with multiple sclerosis. Although these results are promising, more research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
|Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Behavioral therapy is often used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In human research, autogenic therapy has been used as a placebo treatment for comparison to the effects of behavioral therapy.
Early research suggests that autogenic therapy may improve symptoms of pain in limbs that have been amputated. Additional research is needed in this area.
|Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Study suggests that autogenic therapy, in combination with other therapies, may aid in the treatment of PTSD. Further research on the effect of autogenic therapy alone is needed before a conclusion can be made.
|Psychological conditions (pediatric behavioral disorders)
Early research suggests that autogenic therapy may reduce stress and psychosomatic complaints in children and adolescents. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Early research suggests that autogenic therapy may be useful in Raynaud’s disease. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.
|Sports or other physical injuries
Early research suggests that autogenic therapy may reduce injuries in ballet dancers when used together with other coping skills, but not when used alone. Further research is needed in this area.
Early research suggests that autogenic therapy may be effective for stuttering. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.
Limited evidence suggests that biofeedback-assisted relaxation, which involves aspects of autogenic therapy, may help manage the most common form of fainting. More research is needed in this area.
Autogenic therapy may be beneficial for thyroid disease. However, well-designed human research is needed before conclusions can be made.
*Key to grades:
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
- Addiction (tranquilizers), arrhythmia (ventricular), biliary/gall bladder disease, bladder disorders, cancer, cerebral palsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, circulatory disorders, degenerative joint disease/osteoarthritis, diabetes, dyspepsia, eating disorders, facial spasm, food allergy diagnosis/treatment, grief, heart attack recovery, high cholesterol, hot flashes (blushing/flushing), improving concentration, infections (recurrent), jet lag, longevity, low back pain, muscle spasm, muscle tension, myofascial pain, nervousness (cough), neuralgia (nerve pain), neurologic disorders (tremors), night sweats, obesity, panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease, phobias, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, quality of life, rheumatoid arthritis, sexual dysfunction, stress (hormone levels), traumatic brain injury, wound healing.
Los profesionales de la salud que tienen instrucción formal practican muchas técnicas complementarias, de acuerdo con los estándares de organizaciones nacionales. No obstante, este no es el caso universal; es posible que se presenten efectos adversos. Debido a la limitada investigación existente, en algunos casos solamente hay poca información disponible sobre la seguridad del tratamiento.
Autogenic therapy is likely safe for healthy adults and adults with medical conditions who have received clearance from their healthcare provider, although its safety has not been thoroughly studied.
Autogenic therapy should not replace proven treatments for potentially serious illnesses.
Autogenic therapy may cause increased phantom limb pain.
Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia or those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Autogenic therapy may cause adverse effects. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Autogenic therapy may cause low or high blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients with cardiovascular conditions or those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood pressure.
Use cautiously in patients with autoimmune disorders or those using immunosuppressants, as, according to human data, autogenic therapy was found to improve immune function.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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- Blanchard EB, Kim M. The effect of the definition of menstrually-related headache on the response to biofeedback treatment. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 2005;30(1):53-63. View Abstract
- Deter HC, Allert G. Group therapy for asthma patients: a concept for the psychosomatic treatment of patients in a medical clinic. A controlled study. Psychother Psychosom 1983;40(1-4):95-105. View Abstract
- Ernst E. Complementary/alternative medicine for hypertension: a mini-review. Wien Med Wochenschr 2005;155(17-18):386-91. View Abstract
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- Hidderley M, Holt M. A pilot randomized trial assessing the effects of autogenic training in early stage cancer patients in relation to psychological status and immune system responses. Eur J Oncol Nurs 2004;8(1):61-65. View Abstract
- Huntley A, White AR, Ernst E. Relaxation therapies for asthma: a systematic review. Thorax 2002; 57(2):127-131. View Abstract
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- Noh YE, Morris T, Andersen MB. Psychological intervention programs for reduction of injury in ballet dancers. Res Sports Med 2007;15(1):13-32. View Abstract
- Sutherland G, Andersen MB, Morris T. Relaxation and health-related quality of life in multiple sclerosis: the example of autogenic training. J Behav Med 2005;28(3):249-56. View Abstract
- ter Kuile MM, Spinhoven P, Linssen AC, et al. Autogenic training and cognitive self-hypnosis for the treatment of recurrent headaches in three different subject groups. Pain 1994;58(3):331-340. View Abstract
- Unterberger PG. [High blood pressure and renal lesions: curable with hypnosis?]. MMW Fortschr Med 2002;144(9):12. View Abstract
- Watanabe Y, Cornelissen G, Watanabe M, et al. Effects of autogenic training and antihypertensive agents on circadian and circaseptan variation of blood pressure. Clin Exp Hypertens 2003;25(7):405-412. View Abstract
- Winocur E, Gavish A, Emodi-Perlman A, et al. Hypnorelaxation as treatment for myofascial pain disorder: a comparative study. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2002;93(4):429-434. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.