Point, click, relax: Guided imagery available online


Clare Casselman, LMSW

The first thing you notice about Claire Casselman is her voice. Always calm, always low. It sounds like navy blue: solid and reassuring, rich and full of depth.

It’s the perfect voice for guided imagery, a technique that combines visualization with breathing exercises to foster relaxation, a sense of empowerment and positive changes for well-being. Casselman, a licensed clinical social worker and case manager in the Cancer Center, developed an online guided imagery library to help patients tap their own internal resources for coping.

“All people, in general, use some form of imagery without being aware of it, whether it’s daydreaming or thinking about dinner and how good it’ll taste,” Casselman said. “It’s a skill we use to help us get through an uncomfortable moment. With guided imagery, we focus on that skill and build an intention into our visualization to help us get to where we want to be emotionally.”

Guided imagery has been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease stress hormones, help with chronic pain, enhance sleep, lessen side effects, boost the immune system and improve surgical recovery.

The podcast library features an introduction to the concept of guided imagery as well as seven programs, ranging from “Taking a Walk” to “Healthy Cell Alliance for Treatment.” Some podcasts have specific themes, such as those for caregivers or those seeking pain relief. Although all of the podcasts have been designed for people facing cancer, each recording is broad enough to appeal to people at all stages of life and in all circumstances.

“Our goal is to show people that they are capable of achieving a peaceful calm, of controlling more of the situation and outcomes,” Casselman said. “It’s empowering. Once you’ve learned how to use imagery to clarify your goals, you can think of it as part of your tool kit for coping — whether it’s with cancer or some other challenge.”

Take the next step:

Cancer-center-informal-vertical-sig-150x150The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.

Guided imagery and other stress reducers

guided imageryThe holiday season is upon us, so much to do, so little time! Do you find yourself wishing for a way to slow down and relax that doesn’t cost anything and that you can do anytime, anywhere, without anyone knowing what you are doing? Well, there is a way, and that way is called guided imagery. Guided imagery has been around for centuries, and is both a spiritual, emotional and chemical reaction or an event that will occur naturally in our body – if we know and practice certain specific techniques.

Every day we are bombarded with so much Continue reading

Tips for seeking complementary therapy providers in your hometown

complementary therapy providersYou’re curious about art therapy, but you live too far away from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center to try a session. Or maybe that group session of guided imagery just won’t fit into your schedule. That’s why we’ve put together tips for finding complementary therapy providers in your hometown.

Complementary therapies — such as art therapy or massage therapy — have been shown to be beneficial to people with cancer. The Society of Integrative Oncology published a report several years ago stating that “Mind-body modalities are recommended as part of a multidisciplinary approach to reduce anxiety, mood disturbance, (and) chronic pain and (to) improve quality of life.” And last week, in newly published guidelines from the Society for Integrative Oncology, researchers at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, together with colleagues from leading institutions across the country, analyzed which integrative treatments appear to be most effective and safe for patients with breast cancer.

“Complementary therapies can be a powerful tool in helping to maintain a sense of wellbeing during cancer treatment,” said Continue reading

Simple stress-reducing techniques

Find the technique that fits your lifestyle

When you’re able to identify the situations that trigger stress in your life, you can learn techniques for PhysicalTechniquesBlog1.fwdealing with those situations more effectively. If not dealt with in a healthy way, stress can lead to a weakened immune system, loss of sleep, increased heart rate, high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.

With the right stress-reducing techniques, you’ll not only be able to manage the harmful effects of stress on your mind and body, you’ll also be saving your energy for things that are more positive and productive in your life.

Remember, controlling stress is a lifelong process. Learning what triggers your stress is an important first step, along with recognizing that some stressors cannot be controlled or changed no matter how much you worry about them. The key is to incorporate relaxation techniques for managing stress and its effects on your body. Here are some to get you started:

Continue reading

Guided imagery engages the senses to cope with cancer

Guided imageryKris Snow grew up skiing in the mountains of Utah and associates them with fond memories, peace and spirituality. With her entire family still living out West, being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2011 after moving to Michigan left her feeling even farther away from the people and place she loved. Jennifer Griggs, M.D., and other members of her care team referred her to Claire Casselman and the Guided Imagery Program to learn more ways to use her imagination to cope with stressors associated with her cancer. Continue reading

Discover the Comforting Power of Touch

Guided imagery helps you soothe yourself during difficult times

When you are feeling anxious or disquieted, one of the quickest methods to feel better is to touch something soothing. There’s a reason people have been attracted to “worry stones.” The tactile sensation of rubbing something smooth is comforting. We have a physiological response to touching an object that is soft or even or polished. That response results in an “ahhhh” sensation that is comforting or quieting. Think about pulling out your winter fleece or perhaps recalling your “blankie” when you were quite young.

This is a good  strategy: carry a small, comforting object in your pocket on days when you’re feeling anxious or when you anticipate being anxious. It’s a quick, easy way to regain some sense of comfort and control – and no one needs to know you are in contact with a soothing, strengthening object.

This video can give you even more ideas about the comforting power of touch. Let us know your experience and what you discover.

Continue learning how guided imagery can help you reclaim your power:

Reclaiming Your Power When Stressed (introduction)

Using Imagination

Using Movement

Soothing Your Inner Voice