Information for Healthcare Professionals

Autogenic Training 

‘Autogenic Training (AT) can be described as a technique of deep relaxation. Competency in AT enables a person, through passive concentration, to revert from a state of arousal associated with sympathetic nervous system activity to a contrasting state of profound relaxation associated with parasympathetic activity.  AT promotes self generated self regulation, that is, a return to homeostasis through corrective processes.’

(Bird, 2015; Sadigh, 2012; Kanji, 1997; Schultz & Luthe, 1969.)

History of AT

Autogenic Training originated at the beginning of the twentieth century through the work of German neurologist, Johannes Schultz. Strongly impressed by the work of neuropsychiatrist, Oskar Vogt, who had observed that his hypnotised patients regularly reported two distinct sensations: ‘a heaviness especially in the limbs’ and ‘a sensation of warmth’. Johannes Schultz noted similar observations with his own hypnotised patients and concluded that each person possessed a neurophysiological ‘switch’ mechanism permitting autonomic self-regulation (autogenic or self-generated) which could be developed into a technique which was ‘therapist independent’.

Schultz developed Autogenic Training (AT) over a number of years from his own research during the 1920s.

The AT programme

‘Clinical and experimental observations have shown that the person’s psycho-physiological state during the practice of Autogenic Training is a ‘pre-sleep’ state, similar to but different from sleep or hypnosis. Autogenic training and related autogenic approaches are designed to promote … and support  those brain-directed self-regulatory (autogenic) mechanisms which normally participate in homeostatic, recuperative and self-normalising processes … physiological and psychophysiolgically oriented effects of autogenic approaches may be considered as  being diametrically opposed to changes brought about by stress.’

(Schultz & Luthe, 1969.)

The AT programme and Standard Exercises

‘AT comprises a series of  six simple Standard  (mental) Exercises in which the trainee learns, firstly, through self applied techniques and with passive concentration, to induce heaviness and warmth in the arms and legs. Thereafter, additional  AT Standard Exercises comprise formulae suggesting a calm heartbeat, regular breathing, abdominal warmth and a cool forehead. Together these are the  six Standard Exercises, practice of which activates a neurophysiological mechanism which produces a shift from a stressed state to a profound state of repair, thereby re-establishing the body’s homeostasis and recuperation.’

(Bird, 2015; Sadigh, 2012; Schultz & Luthe, 1969).

Over 8-10 weeks, depending on the needs of the individual trainee or group of trainees, the Autogenic Training  programme builds each week upon the skills acquired in the previous week, the aim being to facilitate a physiological shift in autonomic function from the sympathetically enhanced stress-dominated state to a more relaxed state enhanced by parasympathetic function.

Throughout the training programme the  trainee is required to practise the AT exercise three times daily, keep a daily AT diary and to record their comments regarding their personal perceived benefits of AT.

For further information on AT or to book an AT programme, please contact Shelagh Wright via the Contact page of this website or by email: info@autogenictrainingireland.ie