Imagery, the flow of thoughts that one can see, hear, or otherwise experience in the imagination, can be valuable for healing. Research in biofeedback, hypnosis, and meditative states has shown that people have a powerful range of self-regulatory capacities. Likewise, studies in the United States and England suggest that many health problems presented to primary care clinics are emotional, social, or familial in origin, though these problems are manifested in pain or illness.
In practice, guided imagery uses focused imagery in a relaxed mind state to directly affect the physiology of the patient. Through accessing his or her own emotions, the patient gains an awareness of how emotions affect health. Imagery is often used to treat chronic pain and allergies, to accelerate healing and minimize discomfort from injuries, and to aid in the recovery process of cancer patients. Furthermore, imagery can be applied to nearly any medical situation where relaxation or symptom relief is needed.