using your senses & imagination

to relaxto copeto heal


using your senses & imagination

to relax


Guided Imagery

how it differs from other techniques

Relaxation & Guided Imagery (GI) are safe, fast, effective mind body techniques that almost anyone can learn, even those with cognitive difficulties. It’s often easier for Westerners to learn than meditation because it does not require the same time and skill level to achieve success. Those who engage in anxious thinking find this approach helpful because it is not necessary to clear one’s mind with each breathe and because the emphasis on creating deep body relaxation first and then the use of sensory images tends to bypass left-brain thinking and fretful thoughts.

The Relaxation and Guided Imagery techniques that I teach start with a particular kind of relaxation, referred to as autogenic training (self-generating). Belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing) is employed and then I guide you to imagine relaxing different parts of your body and letting go of stress stored in the body. Then you’re invited to imagine healing and loving images with your senses. This combined relaxation and sensory imaging evokes rapid shifts in perception and behavior in a fun, curious way. The Relaxation Response achieved expands blood flow, slows heart and breathing rates, reduces muscle tension and serum cholesterol levels and promotes a present focus. With just a little practice, the healing sensory imagery reverberates deep within your body repeatedly. Though images of events, places or scenes are imagined, the mind does not discriminate the sensory images from real ones. As a result, the effects are experienced as whole felt body states in which you can interact with sensory images to increase well-being, problem solve or rehearse and prepare for future challenges.

Even introductory GI exercises can reduce tension headache, increase rest and sleep, lower stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, shift pain experience and increase short-term immune function. With more advanced GI exercises, one can focus on a particular end result they’d like to experience, prepare for surgery or chemo or radically improve energy and mood and reduce fatigue. GI is a wonderful empowering tool to cope and improve symptom management of many health conditions. It is also an effective method to overcome test or performance anxiety, dental anxiety, caregiver stress or stress associated with challenging medical procedures.

why guided imagery

benefits & outcomes



Dr. Miriam Franco, LCSW, Psy.D. is a psychologist, social worker, certified in Advanced EMDR treatment, certified in Guided Imagery and in Hypnosis and is a certified  Multiple Sclerosis Specialist. She obtained her MSW degree from Smith Graduate School of Social Work and her Psy.D. from Immaculata University Graduate School of Psychology. Dr. Franco is also a certified Relational Psychoanalyst having graduated from the Institute for Relational Psychoanalysis of Philadelphia. Dr. Franco is a Professor Emeritus at Immaculata University.  She is a Health Care Partner with the National MS Society. 

Dr. Franco is also a recognized psychotherapist in the treatment of chronic pain conditions, PTSD, health trauma, and somatoform disorders.  She brings years of clinical practice and experience to her work in helping people lower stress and anxiety and improve coping utilizing autogenic relaxation and Guided Imagery (GI).  She trains health professionals to apply GI to their work with MS, cancer, Parkinson’s, Stroke, Epilepsy, ALS, Heart Disease and prepares people for surgery as well. She conducts workshops nationally in lowering stress and, coping with chronic illness (Relaxation and GI for Kidney Disease; Lowering Anxiety and Injection Anxiety Associated with MS, Pediatric MS), and challenging life events and medical procedures (Stressfree MRIs, Defeat Dental Fear, Mastering Test Anxiety, Stressfree Bride).

Dr. Franco has taught college athletes to lower stress and improve performance (De-Stress 101, Imagine the Possibilities) ,caregivers to reduce stress, insomnia and depression (Relieving Caregiver Stress), students to improve focus, study, retention and test performance (Master Test Anxiety,Max Performance), brides to de-stress wedding stress (Stress-free Bride), and young women to improve their confidence and sense of inner beauty (Beautiful Confidence at Your Core). She is available for phone consultations, group workshops and individual work.

Dr. Franco has published pilot research studies on Use of Relaxation and Guided Imagery to Lower Anxiety and Injection Anxiety among MS Patients (2008), a review article on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Older women (2007) and has been interviewed numerous times for her GI work: She is a regular contributor to MS patient publications.  Dr. Franco has been the guest host for numerous podcasts including: The MSAA’s Exploring Relationships & MS, 2019; Coping with Anxiety & MS, Surviving and Thriving with MS, 2019 .* Dr. Carol Ritberger’s Radio Show Reducing Stress Associated with MS. 2014; *Dr. Juliet Rhode-Brown, Emotional Pathways webtalk radio: Relieving Caregiver Stress 2011; Dr. Juliet Rhode-Brown, Emotional Pathways webtalk radio: Beautiful Confidence at Your Core.2010; Imagery International Podcast: Value of Relaxation and Guided Imagery to Improve Quality of Life with MS. 2010; MS and Guided Imagery: An Interview with Dr. Miriam Franco, The Motivator, 2008, MSAA and Stressfree Brides, MainLine Times, 2009.

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