Evidence for guided imagery

A wide variety of providers are using guided imagery as a way to treat patients (according to a 2017 scoping review of the literature). This includes:

  • psychologists
  • nurses
  • sports scientists
  • medical researchers
  • rehabilitation specialists
  • other medical professionals

With respect to potential benefit, a 2018 review found that although not all of the research studies show statistically significant changes in patient response to guided imagery, many conclude that it shows promise as a patient-centered approach to improving outcomes.

Limitations of the research

  • Lack of clarity in defining a dose (frequency and amount) to provide a therapeutic effect
  • Difficulty isolating the potential effects of guided imagery from other therapies commonly in use at the same time (such as aromatherapy or massage)
  • Changes shown in studies may not be statistically significant