Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

Skip to Search

Skip to Navigation

Volume 82 Issue 4 (December 2009), Pages 355-466

Perceived changes associated with autogenic training for anxiety: A grounded theory study (pages 403-419)

Objectives. Autogenic training (AT) is a behaviourally orientated intervention usually taught in eight or nine sessions in the United Kingdom: clients are taught six simple mental formulae designed to induce a calm state of mind and body, five additional emotional expression exercises, and individually tailored ‘personal formulae’ for supporting positive change. In the absence of existing psychological (as opposed to neuro‐physiological) models of AT's mechanisms, this study aimed to produce the first such model, drawing on the perceptions of recent AT clients.

Design. An abbreviated form of grounded theory was used to explore retrospectively and in detail the experiences of a small sample of people of the process of change.

Methods. Forty people were approached and 12 women participated who had completed AT in group form after referral for anxiety. Each was interviewed individually. A preliminary model of change was produced, grounded in the interview data.

Results. Factors reported to be salient were learning in a group, the core AT experience (the six standard exercises), difficulties with practice, the importance of regular practice integrated into daily life, and enhanced well‐being and coping, which incorporated reduced worrying and clearer thinking. Limitations of the study are discussed, as are areas for further research and implications for anxiety treatment.

Conclusions. This was a small study with a self‐selected sample. However, theoretical generalizations can be made about the process of change. Since AT does not specifically focus on challenging negative cognitions, the cognitive changes reported have implications for anxiety treatments.

Add This link

Bookmark and Share>