Autogenic Training was developed in the early 20th century by the neuro-psychiatrist Johannes Schultz (1884 – 1970). He worked from his patients’ descriptions of their experiences of relaxation during hypnosis. Between 1894 and 1904 Schultz had studied with Oscar Vogt, a physician and hypnotherapist. It was Vogt’s, Brodmann’s, and Schultz’s research into hypnosis, in particular, that formed the basis for the development of Autogenic methods.
Schultz developed AT with the goal of eliminating people’s reliance on a therapist. He wanted to teach people to actively regulate their own experience by entering and coming out of deep relaxation by themselves. Schultz carried out a large number of studies on the effects of AT. Most of these studies took measurements from individuals, such as heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. Schultz also did some studies with groups. Given AT’s effectiveness, its ease of learning, ease of use, and the low cost of teaching it in groups, AT quickly spread throughout Europe and to North America and the Far East by the 1940s.
Dr Wolfgang Luthe was Schultz’ student in the 1940s. He studied psychosomatic medicine and Autogenic Therapy. In the late 1940s, Luthe emigrated to Montreal, Canada where he continued to develop Autogenic Therapy as Assistant Professor of Psychophysiology at the University of Montreal. Schultz and Luthe collaborated in writing and collating research into all aspects of Autogenic Therapy. In 1969, a year before Schultz’s death, they published the first three of the six volumes on Autogenic Therapy. These volumes now constitute the seminal work on the subject in English.
In 1978 two British health care professionals, Dr. Malcolm Carruthers and psychotherapist Vera Diamond, studied Autogenic Training with Dr. Luthe in Montreal. They then held the first Autogenic Training courses in Queen Anne Street in London in 1979. Later, Dr Luthe contributed to the therapist training courses of 1982 and 1983, introducing his three innovations: (1) the cathartic Intentional Off-loading Exercises to be added to Autogenic Training, (2) Autogenic Neutralisation, a psychotherapy method, and (3) Creativity Mobilisation Technique, a standalone therapeutic method using painting to support personal growth and change.