Using Our Imaginations for Good! Guided Imagery & Other Experiential Tools for Relaxation and Stress Reduction

There is an old saying that “whatever you give your attention to grows.” Think about how that plays out–in your garden or your work, with your children, or with your worries and fears. In times of stress, guided imagery offers one strategy for shifting our attention to positive resources. Guided imagery helps us to enter a relaxed state of body & mind. It helps us to use our imaginations to calm, to focus on inner strengths, to discover our own wise solutions. Here are some resources to help you explore guided imagery and similar experiential tools like hypnosis.

Relaxing guided mindfulness journeys, developed by Institute psychologist, Karin Lawson, Psy.D. and her colleague Christy Hofsess, Ph.D. Feel free to listen to and download these MP3 tools to help you use your imagination and breath to de-stress.

Intro to Deep Breathing
Soft Belly
Balloon Breath
Grounding Breath
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Beach Visualization

(Note: to download the files, right-click and choose “Save as” or “Download linked file as”.)
Disclaimer: The Institute for Girls’ Development acknowledges that these downloads are a self-help tool. The self-help resources on this site are not intended to be a substitute for therapy. Some people do not find these strategies relaxing or helpful and we encourage you to honor your own reactions. These types of relaxation exercises may be contraindicated for people addressing trauma.

Martin Rossman, M.D. (2004). Anxiety Relief: Guided Imagery Exercises to Soothe, Relax, & Restore Balance . Sounds True CD. Useful for older teens and adults. Dr. Rossman is on the medical school faculty at the University of California, San Francisco. He is co-founder of the American Academy for Guided Imagery.

Michael Yapko, Ph.D. (2006). Focusing on Feeling Good (available at teaches how to create feelings of comfort while building a positive and clear frame of mind. This program provides methods for overcoming depression and creating a new and healthy lifestyle.

Michael Yapko, Ph.D. Calm Down: A Self-Management Program for Anxiety. (Available at Comments from Dr. Yapko: “Everyone gets anxious from time to time, of course. But, if you find yourself worrying too often, thinking too much about how things may go wrong, spinning around the same thoughts over and over, avoiding situations that cause you discomfort, or regularly feel you might not be able to cope with daily challenges without getting overwhelmed, then anxiety is likely to be a bigger part of your life than it needs to be.”

Children’s Guided Imagery for Classrooms and Home

Garth, M. (1997) Earthlight . East Melbourne: HarperCollins Publishers.
Garth, M. (1992) Moonbeam: A Book of Meditations for Children . East Melbourne: HarperCollins Publishers.
Garth, M. (1992) Starbright: Meditations for Children . New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Lite, L. Indigo Teen Dreams: Guided Relaxation Techniques Designed to Decrease Stress, Anger and Anxiety while Increasing Self-esteem and Self-awareness . (CD) (Includes separate exercises for guided imagery, guided breathing, affirmations, and more).
Lusk, J.T. (Ed.) (1992). 30 Scripts for Relaxation Imagery & Inner Healing . Whole Person Associates, Inc. (Scripts range in length and can be tailored to children, teens and adults).

Please note: Nothing in what you find here should be construed as medical advice pertinent to any individual. As is true with all written materials, and especially information found on the internet, you must be the judge of what appears valid and useful for yourself. Please take up any questions you might have regarding the content of this website with your psychotherapist or physician.

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