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What is Autogenic Training?

Autogenic Training is an evidence-based relaxation technique that involves self-suggestions and the concentration of bodily perceptions. Autogenic training is not recommended for individuals with severe mental health issues. If you have any health issues, you should consult with a medical professional prior to beginning autogenic training. If you feel any discomfort during or after autogenic training, please discontinue and consult a health professional.

Autogenic Training involves repetitions of self-instructions or visualisations that induce relaxation (e.g. heaviness and warmth of arms and legs). The method typically includes three levels. The first level is designed to allow deep relaxation, the second level is used for self instructions that assist behavioral modifications and the third level called autogenic meditation is using mental images and visualisations. It is important to learn the six exercises of the first level before moving to levels two and three.

Autogenic training should be done once or twice a day and can be done in three different positions. At least once a day autogenic training should be done lying down, on other occasions it can be done sitting down with both arms comfortably resting or even in a position called "Droschkenkutscher" in the German language (slightly leaning forward).

Hypnosis conducted by a clinical practitioner typically includes an induction and an exit procedure. The induction includes test if the client can be hypnotised at all. The exit procedure allows a comfortable return to daily activities. Autogenic training has no induction however there is an exit procedure which includes a very simple countdown. Once zero is reached the client will open her or his eyes, will take a deep breath, tighten his or her arms and will then slowly get up and resume normal activities.

There are number of contraindications for autogenic training, most importantly any form of psychotic disorder. If none of these conditions are present, autogenic training is generally regarded a reliable and safe procedure for individuals and groups starting age seven and older.

How does Autogenic Training work?

The first level of autogenic training includes six exercises. The first exercise called "Heaviness" includes repeated suggestions that arms, legs and the entire body are heavy. The second exercise is called "warmth" and again includes suggestions that step-by-step body parts become comfortably warm. The third exercise is a breathing exercise, the fourth is called "solar plexus" warming this particular part of the body. The fifth exercise is about a calm and regular heartbeat and the sixth exercise aims at a warm body and a comfortable cool forehead. Once these exercises have been learnt, and some experience of heaviness and warmth is present, the practicioner can move on to higher levels of autogenic training.

Listen here to the first two exercises of Autogenic Training. Do not listen to the recordings while driving or operating heavy machinery. This is not a replacement for medical or psychological attention. It is best to learning autogenic training with the assistance of an experienced psychologist.