What is it?

"Autogenic" means generated from within. The therapy is a form of deep relaxation, comparable to meditation, whereby a state of physical and mental rest is induced by autosuggestion (the silent repetition of a sequence of statements, typically: 'I am quiet and relaxed...my right arm feels comfortable and heavy and relaxed... continuing around the body). It was devised in the 1920s by psychiatrist Johannes Shultz, to help him overcome his fear as he lay in the trenches in the first world war, and it has been developed into a technique that is used world-wide, and respected by the medical profession.

The theory behind autogenic therapy is that by reminding ourselves of the feeling of true relaxation (when the arteries in our limbs open up, increasing blood flow and resulting in a warmth and heaviness) we can actually bring about that effect. The 'fight or flight' response to a perceived threat, which includes increased heartbeat, adrenaline secretion, decreased gastric movement and dilated pupils can sometimes be sustained in modern life for prolonged periods of stress; autogenic therapy is a way of switching off this mechanism, which brings both psychological and physical benefits. In the autogenic state, natural self-regulatory systems are able to function well, leading to balance between the left and right brain hemispheres, and supporting the immune system.

The training

It is preferable to have some initial training to master the technique. There is no right or wrong way to apply the method, however, occasionally the therapy brings to the surface emotions and memories that have been suppressed, and the therapist is trained to help you deal with this, as well as help you make the most of the overall experience. The training courses typically consist of 8 to 10 weekly sessions, alone or in a group, which last 90 minutes. The exercises should then be practised for about 10 minutes, several times a day. Autogenic therapy is practised either sitting in a chair or lying down; once mastered, it may be done in almost any environment.

Who is it good for?

In addition to being a general relaxation technique, autogenic therapy is used to help overcome psychological problems, as well as to control the symptoms of many physical disorders - this is sometimes tackled by a more advanced level, called ;autogenic modification', which focuses on specific areas of the body.

AIDS symptoms
Anxiety / panic attacks / phobias
Bladder disorders
Cerebral palsy
Depression (mild/moderate)
Eating disorders
Eczema (atopic)
Epilepsy (frontal lobe)
Headaches / migraines
Irritable bowel syndrome
Long term pain
Muscular pain
Sleep disorders / fatigue

Autogenic training may not be recommended for those suffering from diabetes, hypoglycaemia or heart conditions; it is also not suitable for some people who have a history of psychiatric problems. Consult your doctor first.


In 2001, the Department of Psychology at the University of South Alabama studied thirty children between the ages of 7 and 18 years who suffered from migraines; the frequency, though not the intensity, of the migraines was reduced in all cases; six months after receiving autogenic training 50% of them were completely free from symptoms.

In 1992, Dr Ann Bowden conducted a survey of 196 patients who had attended autogenic training at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital; 144 said that their symptoms had improved, 49 said that they had stayed the same; 3 said they had got worse.


British Autogenic Society
Royal London Homeopathic Hospital
Great Ormond Street
London WC1 3HR
Tel: 020 7713 6336


Dr Kaj Kermani - Autogenic Training: the effective holistic way to better health ISBN: 0285633228

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