AUTOGENOUS TRAINING - JOHANNES HEINRICH SHULTZ
Autogenous Training is a relaxation technique devised during the first half of the twentieth century by the neurologist and psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz, who was born in Gottingen in 1884. Autogenous Training is a method now adopted all over the world and has undergone a significant number of experimental verifications.
When Schultz he began developing this type of therapy, his aim was that of creating a situation in which the patient would be less tied to the therapist and would have the opportunity to become the protagonist and instigator of his own improvement and wellbeing. With the term ‘autogenous training’ (AT) Schultz defined a method of ‘autogenous’ relaxation occurring through a form of mental concentration, which allows the subject to alleviate tensions of both a psychic and physical nature. As the name itself moreover suggests, autogenous training is a ‘training technique’ which is generated by itself or, in other words, those who follow the method put it into practise themselves under the guidance of an expert. Once learned, the exercises can be practised alone, at home or practically anywhere.
The actual ‘training’ provides for a preliminary briefing in how to assume certain positions, while sitting or lying down, which facilitates the subsequent learning of the relaxation exercises. From the physiological point of view, Autogenous Training comprises a series of standard exercises that involve six different areas: i.e., the muscular, vascular, cardiac, respiratory, abdominal and cephalic functions.
There are two fundamental exercises:
1. The ‘heaviness’ exercise, which produces a state of muscular relaxation, i.e., relaxation of the striated and smooth muscles;
2. The ‘heat’ exercise, which produces a peripheral vasodilatation with the consequent increase in blood flow;
And various complementary exercises:
- The heart exercise, which produces an improvement of the cardiovascular function;
- The breathing exercise, which produces an improvement of the respiratory function;
- The solar-plexus exercise, which produces an increase in blood flow in all internal organs;
- The ‘fresh forehead’ exercise, which can facilitate the elimination of headaches as it produces a slight vasoconstriction in the encephalic region.
Thus, this form of relaxation has various objectives. On the one hand, it aims at obtaining muscular and visceral control, while on the other it aims at helping practitioners reach a subjective state of physical and mental wellbeing. Those who have acquired a certain degree of familiarity with the practice of AT are capable of modifying a number of physiological processes, and thus become more proficient in coping with stressful situations, tension and anxiety.
The practice of Autogenous Training leads to greater self-confidence. By practising regularly, one will become capable of acquiring a sense of greater calm and relaxation and it is thus possible to limit the off-loading of tension into the various organs of the body, thereby obtaining an effective intervention in relation to psychosomatic disorders.
Autogenous Training involves no contraindications and therefore anyone may benefit from its practice. The areas of application of the technique are numerous. It is particularly beneficial for people who for various reasons lead quite a stressful existence, working at a fast pace. Stress (see ‘Stress’), is a serious health hazard and a threat to the wellbeing of the organism. It can produce a long series of harmful effects such as anxiety, irritability, and a reduction in sexual activity and desire, headaches, fatigue and so on. These are symptoms which Autogenous Training can prevent, reduce and eliminate. TA is a particularly advisable form of therapy for people suffering from anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia.
>>> (Brief Strategic Therapy)