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:
- Experience guided imagery by visiting our Guided Imagery web site.
The 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.