Guided Imagery as Treatment and Prevention for Anxiety, Chronic Stress, and Illness

The objective of this paper is to determine whether learning and practicing mindfulness techniques, particularly guided imagery, helps reduce symptoms of anxiety in children and adolescents. The purpose is to explore non-pharmaceutical options for stress reduction, prevention of chronic illness later in life, and symptom relief as a first line of defense for parents of children suffering from anxiety symptoms related to general anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic attacks, school or test anxiety, separation anxiety or situational anxiety such as before and during medical procedures. The literature review consists of 45 peer reviewed articles found in the Ebscohost data base. The research was narrowed to 15 closely related articles. The hypothesis is that using guided imagery as a self regulation treatment as well as prevention against childhood anxiety manifesting into disorders and diseases later in life is useful. Also discussed in this review are settings for teaching guided imagery, implications of the findings, and directions for future research.
Keywords: adolescent, anxiety, child, chronic illness, guided imagery, meditation, mindfulness, self regulation, stress

Jeanne B. Hanish
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