What Is Autogenic Training?

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Autogenic training (AT) is a self-guided relaxation technique. It was developed by German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz, as a physical relaxation tool, but has evolved to also treat emotional stress.

"Autogenic" means "coming from within." AT helps create awareness of physical sensations and eventually encourages a state of calm and relaxation. It can be thought of as a mindfulness therapeutic modality.

AT involves a set sequence of six standardized exercises, followed by a recovery exercise. AT is recommended to be done three times a day. It has been used to treat symptoms of various conditions, both physical and emotional, and can be used with psychotherapy and traditional medicine.

Keep reading to learn more about autogenic training, including how it works, who practices it, and the warnings you should know about.

Person practicing autogenic training at home

Maskot / Getty Images

Conditions Treated

Autogenic training may be helpful for a variety of conditions. These can include:

If you’re interested in using autogenic training to treat any symptoms of a condition you have, talk to your healthcare provider.


Autogenic training can be done one-on-one or in a group. You’ll be asked to get into a comfortable position, sitting up or lying down. After closing your eyes, you’ll be instructed to repeat phrases that help create calm and encourage relaxation of different areas of the body. There usually are six areas of focus:

  • Heaviness in muscles
  • Warmth in arms, legs, and other areas of the body
  • Slower and more relaxed heartbeat
  • Slower and more relaxed breathing
  • Relaxation of the belly
  • Coolness of the forehead

At the end, you’ll be given phrases to “end” the relaxation/mindfulness session. You should have a sense of calmness and relaxation.

Who Does It

Anyone can claim to practice autogenic training as a therapist or professional, and you can also learn the techniques so that you can practice AT at home. However, when going to a professional for AT treatment, it’s important to go to someone who is properly trained and certified.

The International Certification Board of Clinical Hypnotherapy (ICBCH) offers a certificate in autogenic training. You should look for a professional with this credential. If you want to use AT to help with a mental health illness, ask whether the therapist specializes in your condition.

Autogenic training is utilized by a wide variety of people. People from different backgrounds and ages and who have various medical or emotional conditions have used AT.


Autogenic training is beneficial for many people. The mode of action centers on the relaxation response (achieving a physical state of deep rest to modify your response to stress). This response involves a complex relationship between the endocrine, immune, neurological, and psychological systems.

It can be hard to determine the effectiveness of AT since it's often used in combination with other treatments. However, it has been used for various conditions and to treat different symptoms.

A 2019 meta-analysis (a statistical analysis of multiple studies) found that AT decreased anxiety and depression. Another study found that AT had beneficial effects on easing chronic pain.

A 2022 study that looked at AT and its effects on overall wellness in people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) found that participants noticed benefits from the first session, reporting more optimism, less anxiety, and overall improved mood and well-being.

More randomized controlled studies (those that assign people into experimental or control groups by chance) are needed in order to better isolate AT and evaluate its effects. But the studies that have been done so far show that AT is effective at improving wellness and reducing symptoms of many conditions.


Overall, autogenic training is very safe. It should not be used alone, though, when other, evidence-based care is available.

It also should not be used as a replacement for other treatments recommended or prescribed by your healthcare team. A skilled, trained, and certified practitioner should always be sought when seeking autogenic training therapy.

Furthermore, it is not advised in If individuals with significant and serious mental health illnesses, like a psychotic disorders. If you have a history of mental illness, talk with your healthcare provider and your therapist about whether this is appropriate for you.

More research needs to be done to explore any other contraindications of AT or any adverse effects it may have on individuals.


Autogenic training is a mindfulness technique that can be used for a variety of conditions and symptoms. It is safe for many people and can be added to existing therapies and treatments as a supplemental wellness tool.

Not only has it been shown to help with physical ailments like pain, but also emotional conditions like depression and anxiety, and it promotes overall well-being. It’s not a substitute or replacement for other medical treatments, and should merely be added to your existing treatment plan.

A Word From Verywell

While autogenic training is safe for many people, it is not right for everyone. If you have a severe mental health illness, talk with your healthcare provider before doing AT. It may exacerbate some mental illnesses or cause adverse reactions or symptoms, and that’s something to be avoided.

As with many treatments, even though AT does have benefits, it’s not always right for everyone—and that’s OK. Your healthcare provider can go over all of the risks and benefits with you and discuss whether it’s appropriate for you.

6 Sources
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