Autogenic training can be learned in a group or an individual course. An individual course is usually more expensive, but is more personal, and if you feel the group would cause unnecessary anxiety it is the best choice. The group setting may at first seem as if you will not get enough attention, but the fact is it holds several advantages.

 

group-sessionGroup training

Group training is more dynamic, since there are many clients and each has unique problems and questions, which are discussed during the course. The questions are more diverse and answers give wider perspective for everyone in the course. A group also has a motivational effect, because clients see other's progress, how they find time to practice, and also recognize the positive effects that autogenic training has on them. All this strengthens the trust in autogenic training and keeps the whole group going.

 

Individual therapy

On the other hand a group can have some disadvantages. You may have many questions, issues and concerns, which you do not feel like sharing with others, in which case an individual course would be better. In addition an individual session allows a therapist a more detailed view on your progress and problems, and this attention can have a positive effect on the autogenic process. Also an autogenic journal can be read through in more detail during an individual course, and therefore a therapist is more aware of your needs and can advise you better. Moreover at the end of the course you get a personal formula, which is tailored exactly to your needs, which unfortunately is often not the case in groups.

Don't worry if you can't decide whether to try a group or an individual class. The most important step is to take an autogenic training course. The fact you are reading this page means you think you will benefit from the course. In fact everyone who has stress in their lives needs relaxation and will benefit from autogenic training in one way or another.

Autogenic training consists of 6 standard autogenic training exercises. These exercises focus on:

  • Heaviness in the limbs
  • Warmth in the limbs
  • Heart rate
  • Respiration
  • Abdominal warmth
  • Coolness of the forehead

The course though is taught in 9 exercises, where you gradually learn to focus on these body suggestions, and the whole exercise is written down at the end.

 

Exercise 1 - Short stitch

autogenic-training-exercises-short-sticthIn the first exercise you get familiarized with autogenic training, the postures in which we practice your training, body scan, and close (an end of an exercise). You also learn an exercise called short stitch. Short stitch is a 3 minute exercise, where you focus on your dominant arm. In this exercise you dive into an autogenic state for a short time and come out of it with a close (short, because it is short and stitch, because you dive in and come out of autogenic state for several times).
"My right/left arm is heavy"

 

Exercise 2 - Heaviness 1

In this session you get familiarized with the form of autogenic training exercises, which consist of three sequences and a close at the end. In this exercise you focus on a suggestion of heaviness in the limbs. First you focus on your arms and then afterwards on your legs. The exercise of autogenic training at this stage last about 8-12 minutes and some may already begin to feel the first benefits of relaxation.

 

Exercise 3 - Heaviness 2

This exercise focuses on relieving tension in your neck and shoulders. A suggestion of heaviness in our neck and shoulders relaxes us from the tense feelings in this area, which we gather when we are under stress. Here we also add the affirmation "I am at peace" to sum up the whole autogenic training exercise.

 

Exercise 4 - Warmth in the limbs

By this time you are familiarized with heaviness and it is time to practice warmth in the limbs, which relaxes you even further. Again warmth in the arms is first and after three days you add warmth in your legs. This is the longest exercise and many clients start to notice they are more relaxed than at the beginning of the course. The story begins.

 

Exercise 5 - Cardiac exercise

autogenic-training-exercises-heartbeatThe previous exercise is the longest and the warmth and heaviness now join together, since you have mas-tered them by now. The suggestion of a calm heart beat is another phrase where you get additional relaxation by just focusing on your heart. People here often notice they sleep better and feel refreshed after a session of autogenic training.

 

Exercise 6 - Respiration

The old phrase until this stage focused on "calm and regular heartbeat". The aim of the new phrase is to leave breathing as it is, because we do not want to control it. So instead of "My breathing is calm and regular." we use a phrase, which implies passivity: "It breathes me."

 

Exercise 7 - Abdominal warmth

Another sign of relaxation is blood flowing into the abdominal area so we can "rest and digest". Here we suggest warmth in the solar plexus, which brings even deeper relaxation. The feelings of warmth in the abdomen are a consequence of relaxation, which Schultz observed in patients using hypnosis and successfully transformed into autogenic training exercises.

 

Exercise 8 - Cool forehead

autogenic-training-exercises-forhead-coolThe last of the standard exercises of autogenic training is a suggestion of coolness in the forehead. Having a cool forehead is thought to be relaxing. This is the final stage of the 6 core autogenic training exercises. The next is a personalized formula.

 

Exercise 9 - Personal formula

This is the most exciting part of your course, not only because you will be practicing on your own for 3 months, but because you get your personalized formula (affirmation) with which you can make changes in your behavior, get rid of bad habits, or further decrease anxiety if any remains. Using the affirmation during an autogenic state is similar to hypnosis, where you are in a post-hypnotic state and open to changes on subconscious level.

For theses autogenic training exercises to work properly you need nine weeks for your mind to process them one at a time. It is almost impossible to go through the whole exercise at the beginning, because your mind does not know what it must do with all of the commands. Now it's time to find an autogenic training course and master your autogenic training exercises in just 9 weeks.

autogenic-training-courseEvery therapist has his/her own style and method of running a course. However, in every session there are some integral parts that are always present.
  • At the beginning practice of the previous week's exercise is a good way to break the ice and lower the stress after a busy day.
  • Reading feedback and the journal from the previous week are usually next. Here all of the problems and concerns are discussed in detail. Understandably there is a lot of material to go over in the first few weeks of the course. During the feedback time the therapist also checks diaries, which are written for each exercise from the previous week. This is valuable information for the therapist, who then advises the client how to proceed and overcome the difficulties that have surfaced.
  • The core of every session is a new phrase for the following week. A little background and rationale of the phrase is presented along with how to practice it and how long. Every week's autogenic training exercise is different, but the phrases are systematically built and added, so they are easily remembered.
  • After the practice of the new exercise, additional feedback is gathered. With some adjustments and directions the procedure is repeated twice more.
  • The course of autogenic training also holds a set of "offloading exercises", which are presented on several occasions. Here clients offload emotions in a safe way. Addressing anger, anxiety or fear allows for a better autogenic process and usually enables deeper relaxation.
The course usually lasts from 1 to 2 hours, depending on whether it is an individual or a group course and how many group members are there.

How to learn autogenic training?

Autogenic training needs time and patience to learn it. It cannot be learned in a 15 minute video over the internet. The proper way to learn autogenic training takes about 9 weeks and demands gradual building of phrases, which are carefully selected and often tailored to individual needs. The phrases are practiced three times daily every week. A person, who tries to practice the whole autogenic training at once, will only be disappointed and frustrated, because of the fact his mind does not know what to do with all of the wording. It takes a week (out of 9 weeks) to properly process what to do with each phrase.

 

do-I-need-a-therapistDo I need a therapist to learn autogenic training?

The best way to learn autogenic training is in a therapist setting. Usually clients have medical problems and a therapist can in cases of severe mental health disorders (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, serious depression, severe anxiety and depression) turn down the client. The problem is autogenic training often in fact worsens the state of the mentioned mental health problems.
Therapist's role in teaching autogenic training has besides medical evaluation several important aspects:

a) solving the problems, which (usually) arise
b) motivation
c) discipline
d) knowing the answers to the questions, which arise
e) tailoring autogenic training to individual's needs
f) advising how to choose the final personal formula
g) background of the exercises



a. Solving the problems, which (usually) arise.

During autogenic training clients always bump into problems, which can be intruding thoughts, insecurity of doing autogenic training properly, problems with passive concentration, trouble fitting autogenic training in a daily schedule, mood swings, autogenic discharges, and many more. Here a therapist knows how to overcome these difficulties and calms down the client and they solve the problems together.

 

b. Motivation

Probably the most important aspect is motivation to go through the whole course. Every week a client needs to show up and be prepared with proper practice of the previous week. This aids a client not to give up in the middle of the process. In many autogenic training groups not all of the clients finish the course. Usually the lack of practice is the problem. Think about learning autogenic training on yourself. You need to gradually add the phrases, solve the problems on your own and you do not have a weekly obligation to go to the course. Therefore there is no outside motivator to practice three times daily and you will with time probably leave the practice altogether. This of course does not apply to everybody, some will make it.

 

c. Discipline

Weekly sessions with clients in group therapy are full of stories of clients who practice regularly and clients who find it hard to practice. The ones, who practice, often have results and motivate others by showing them it can be done with the right amount of discipline.

 

therapist-autogenic-trainingd. Knowing the answers to the questions, which arise.

Majority of clients have detailed questions about passive concentration, where to practice, when to practice, how long the exercises should take, what to expect from the course, etc. A good therapist should answer to the questions and allow a client to make progress.

 

e. Tailoring autogenic training to individual's needs.

Some people have troubles when practicing autogenic training at the beginning. For instance there can be feelings of immense heaviness, which are distracting the flow of the course, or have trouble with respiration rate. Some may be pregnant and need to leave of some of the phrases. A therapist knows how to act in these cases and tailor the autogenic training to individual needs. By that the therapist allows the right progress to the end of the course without frustrations and disappointments.

 

f. Advising how to choose the final personal formula.

The last exercise of the course is a personal formula, which focuses on a particular aspect of a client's life he/she is willing to change or improve. Here a client and a therapist try to find the right set of words to coin the affirmations. A therapist then teaches a client to make his/her own formula, which a client will then use at will.

 

g. Background of the exercises.

This point should actually have to be put in the first place. Autogenic formulas can be found on internet pages including ours. But the background of the exercises, which helps a client to a better progress, is usually gathered at the course, where a therapist helps a client to understand each formula better.

Therapist is as you can see very important, but some people may be able to learn autogenic training on their own. We all need guidance when we are learning something new. We needed primary school teachers, tennis couches, foreign language teachers, dancing instructors, driving instructors, etc. It is best to learn from those who have the "know how". How many foreign languages have you learned on your own only from books?