In addition to its capacity to enhance the healing and recuperative powers of the body, AT appears to rebalance our mental faculties and bring closer harmony between the analytical left hemisphere of the brain and the more emotional, inspirational and creative right hemisphere.
The result seems to be an inner calmness, a sense of well-being, and a certain kind of detachment. Clients of AT report a greater access / connection to feelings and intuition, but also an increased capacity for objectivity and rational thought, including an objectivity about their own emotional responses.
In short, AT seems to enhance whole brain thinking and feeling, which may explain the benefits it can bring in many walks of life. Artists, writers and musicians, for example, often report enhanced creativity and imagination.
AT In Sport
AT has been used to enhance the performance of athletes in various fields. In his published study on AT, Autogenic Therapy, Luthe described a variety of benefits including improved reaction times and co-ordination, greater endurance and more rapid recuperation.
Experience with European athletes and with British rifle and pistol shooting teams suggest that performance improvements are partly the result of reduced tension and anxiety in the face of competition.
Anecdotal evidence from autogenic therapists backs up the notion of improved performance in sport (golf, horse riding and training, tennis).
AT In Business And Industry
Research commissioned by the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has found that up to 5 million people in the UK feel ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed by their work and that a total of 12.8 million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2004/5.
AT has been used extensively in industry to reduce the effects of occupational stress. Luthe reported a number of benefits among employees including more restful sleep patterns, improved attitudes to colleagues, greater job satisfaction, increased initiative and productivity, less fatigue, and easier decision-making. Executives reported keener powers of reasoning during protracted negotiations. Colleagues of UK therapists taught AT in Holland to airline crews to combat jet lag and insomnia.
AT In Education
Luthe discovered that teaching AT to school children to relieve specific disorders (such as bronchial asthma, enuresis and stuttering) led to a number of other benefits, including improved attention and concentration, better classroom behaviour, and improved test performance. Luthe’s post-graduate students reported that they could maintain a higher workload in the face of exams and assignment deadlines if they practised AT regularly.
AT In Everyday Life
To many, the principal benefit of AT is that it creates a calm centre from which to cope with the stresses of every-day life.
‘I call it the crying over spilt milk syndrome,’ says Autogenic Therapist Jane Bird. ‘When I began learning AT I really did spill some milk and I thought “OK, I can mop that up”. As I was doing it, I realised I wouldn’t have reacted so calmly before AT. It doesn’t change situations, but it does alter your reaction to them. AT is ideal for people with assertiveness problems. After AT, people are surprised that “I’m speaking my mind as I never have before”. AT is a discipline that, once learned, is yours for life. I wish I’d learned it before pregnancy, because the feelings of calmness would have been transmitted to the baby, helped labour and delivery, and those early trials and tribulations of motherhood. However, I learned AT when my children were small – still a useful application!’
(Article Top Santé 1995 – adapted here by Jane Bird)
* Schultz, Dr Johannes H & Luthe, Dr Wolfgang. Autogenic Therapy Vols 1 – 6, Grune & Stratton, New York, 1969
* Vanek, M & Cratty, B J Psychology and the Superior Athlete, McMillan, London, 1970