Susan E. Mazer, Ph.D. Blog

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Hi, and welcome to my blog! I'm Susan E. Mazer -- a knowledge expert and thought leader on how the environment of care impacts the patient experience. Topics I write about include safety, satisfaction, hospital noise, nursing, care at the bedside, and much more. Subscribe below to get email notices so you won't miss any great content.

Joint Commission Opens Door for Guided Imagery

January 9, 2015

Guided imagery©2014 Healing HealthCare SystemsHappy New Year to new regulations and definitions!

Effective January 1, the Joint Commission’s more comprehensive definition of pain management includes both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic strategies — including physical, relaxation, and cognitive behavior therapies.

Massage therapy, chiropractic strategies, healing touch, and other integrative therapies are mentioned. By acknowledging this short list of well documented non-pharmacologic therapies, the Joint Commission is opening the door for integrative medicine.

So let me give a shout out for guided imagery, an integrative therapy that uses patient’s active imagination to bring about physiological and emotional responses that can accelerate the healing process. And there are studies to prove it.

  • Blue Shield of California found guided imagery to have a therapeutic and economic value for pre-surgical patients
  • The Cleveland Clinic found that cardiac surgery patients who listened to pre-op guided imagery surgical tapes had significantly less pain, anxiety, and two days shorter hospital stay
  • Cardiac surgery patients at Inova Heart Center at Inova Fairfax Hospital who completed a guided imagery program had a shorter average length of stay, a decrease in average direct pharmacy costs, and a decrease in average direct pain medication costs

For the past 14 years, we’ve offered C.A.R.E. with Guided Imagery, blending nature video, music, and the spoken word for a unique therapeutic experience.  Patients may listen with their eyes closed, letting the music support the spoken words — or watch the video to get the full effect.

The benefits of guided imagery increase with repeated use. As patients become more familiar with the experience, they are able to better focus and follow the visual imagery. (If you’re still not sure what guided imagery is, watch this demo.)

Guided imagery encourages and facilitates proactive participation in a person’s own recovery. In the current environment of patient engagement, this is a compelling reason to consider adding this therapy into pain management protocols.

The suffering experienced by many patients is often caused by their own powerlessness to do anything about their situation.  Guided imagery puts the power back into the hearts and minds of patients, using their minds and imaginations to support recovery.

Kudos to the Joint Commission for further validating the value and effectiveness of guided imagery!

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Photo credit: ©2013 Healing HealthCare Systems.

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