The Long Term Benefits of Guided Imagery

Color image of Mollie Sugarman sitting with patient in chair preparing for guided imagery session.

One of the most difficult parts of a breast cancer diagnosis is the loss of control that comes with it. You’re plunged into a world full of unfamiliar terms and procedures, a world that demands action and choices. The reconstruction process can be extremely demanding both physically and emotionally. That’s why it’s so essential to ensure that you have the tools you need to work through it.

Our practice encourages patients and their significant others to attend a pre-operative guided imagery and relaxation session, which we offer as part of the Patient Empowerment Program. As a medical team, we’ve found this training to improve both physical and emotional outcomes. These powerful tools help to restore a sense of control during one of the most tumultuous periods of life. Guided imagery is also something that patients can take with them as they move forward after surgery, recovery, and beyond. You can use it daily, in times of stress or physical duress, or whenever you feel like you need to rediscover your center.

During this 45 minute session, I teach breathing and visualization techniques to help quiet the mind and quell anxiety. These techniques have profound physical capabilities; I have experienced guided imagery’s ability to lower blood pressure, improve immune system function, and decrease physical discomfort first-hand. I find that even the most skeptical patients emerge amazed by the session’s impact on body tension. After the session, each patient receives a copy of one of my guided imagery recordings to use at home, at the hospital before surgery, or anytime they need to decompress or reclaim control over their body. You can do it anytime, anywhere; it’s a skill that lasts a lifetime.

So many of our patients feel truly empowered when they practice the techniques. I hear new stories constantly, from patients who have been able to lower their blood pressure during preoperative medical examinations to secure approval for medical clearance to those who use it before surgery to enter anesthesia feeling calm, collected, and completely prepared. Anesthesiologists who work with our practice note easier transitions both into and out of surgery, which leads to improved long-term healing. It is a true testament to the mind-body connection.


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