Skip to main content
Explore URMC


URMC / Encyclopedia / Content


What is imagery?

The mind is a powerful healing tool. Imagery or visualization has been used as a therapeutic technique for centuries.

By creating images in your mind, you can reduce pain and other symptoms associated with your condition. The more specific the visualization, the more therapeutic it will likely be. People are taught to imagine sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or other sensations to create a kind of daydream that "removes" them from or gives them control over their present circumstances. 

Imagery usually involves a program with set objectives and goals. You are guided to visualize your goals and work toward them.

Two imagery techniques are widely used today:

  • Palming involves the visualization of color. You place your palms over your eyes and envision the color associated with stress (usually the color red). Then, you change the color to a more relaxing color, such as blue. It is thought  that changing colors in the mind induces relaxation.

  • Guided imagery involves envisioning a certain goal to help cope with health problems. Guided imagery is most often used as a relaxation technique. It involves sitting or lying quietly and imagining yourself in a favorite peaceful setting (maybe a beach, meadow, or forest). Imagery may be guided by direct suggestion from a qualified imagery practitioner. Another  is the method in which a person with cancer imagines Pac Men (from the old Pac Man video game) gobbling up bad cancer cells.

Studies have shown that imagery can help the mind and body relax. It can help:

  • Manage anxiety, stress, and depression

  • Help reduce pain

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Lessen nausea

  • Give you a better sense of control and well-being

Medical Reviewers:

  • Garilli, Bianca, ND
  • Moloney Johns, Amanda, PA-C, MPAS, BBA