Autogenic training

Autogenic training

[aw-toh-jen-ik, aw-toh-]
Autogenic training is a relaxation technique developed by the German psychiatrist Johannes Schultz and first published in 1932. The technique involves the daily practice of sessions that last around 15 minutes, usually in the morning, at lunch time, and in the evening. During each session, the practitioner will repeat a set of visualisations that induce a state of relaxation. Each session can be practiced in a position chosen amongst a set of recommended postures (e.g. lying down, sitting meditation, sitting like a rag doll, etc.). The technique can be used to alleviate many stress-induced psychosomatic disorders.

Schultz emphasized parallels to techniques in yoga and meditation. It is a method for influencing one's autonomic nervous system. Abbe Faria and Emile Coue are the forerunners of Schultz. There are many parallels to progressive relaxation.

Example of an autogenic training session

  1. sit in the meditative posture and scan the body
  2. "my left arm is heavy and warm" (repeat 3 times)
  3. "my arms and legs are heavy and warm" (repeat 3 times)
  4. "my heartbeat is calm and regular" (repeat 3 times)
  5. "my solar plexus is warm" (repeat 3 times)
  6. ...
  7. finish part one by cancelling
  8. start part two by repeating from steps 2 to cancelling
  9. part three repeat steps 2 to cancelling

Quite often, one will ease themselves into the "trance" by counting to ten, and exit by counting backwards from ten. This is another practice taken from progressive relaxation.

Effects of autogenic training


Autogenic Training is counter-indicated, or needs to be adapted, for a series of conditions including: heart problems such as myocardial infarction, diabetes, psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia, glaucoma, alcohol or drug abuse, epilepsy.

Clinical Evidence

Autogenic training has been subject to clinical evaluation from its early days in Germany, and from the early 1980s worldwide. In 2002, a meta-analysis of 60 studies was published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (Stetter & Kupper 2002), finding significant positive effects of treatment when compared to normals over a number of diagnoses; finding these effects to be similar to best recommended rival therapies; and finding positive additional effects by patients, such as their perceived quality of life.

In Japan, four researchers from the Tokyo Psychology and Counseling Service Center have formulated a measure for reporting clinical effectiveness of autogenic training (IMYK 2002).


  • Bird, Jane; Christine Pinch (2002). Autogenic Therapy - Self-help for Mind and Body. Newleaf (Gill & Macmillan). ISBN 978-0717134229.
  • Luthe Dr W & Schultz Dr JH, "Autogenic Therapy", first published by Grune and Stratton, Inc., New York, (1969). Republished in (2001) by The British Autogenic Society.

In six volumes.
Vol. 1 Autogenic Methods
Vol. 2 Medical Applications
Vol. 3 Applications in Psychotherapy
Vol. 4 Research and Theory
Vol. 5 Dynamics of Autogenic Neutralisation
Vol. 6 Treatment with Autogenic Neutralisation

  • Ikezuki, Miyauchi, Yamaguchi, and Koshikawa, (IMYK 2002). Development of Autogenic Training Clinical Effectiveness Scale (ATCES). In Japanese Journal of Psychology 72(6):475-481. PubMed index 11977841
  • Stetter & Kupper (2002). Autogenic training: a meta-analysis of clinical outcome studies. In Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback 27(1):45-98. PubMed index 12001885

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