The historical foundations of Guided Fantasy are found in psychoanalysis. In the famous case of Anna O. (Breuer and Freud, 1895), a directed mental imagery technique was employed, but Freud later discarded the use of guided imagery, and developed methods involving free association and dream analysis.Growing out of this analytic tradition, Kretschmer (1922) and Happich (1938) developed meditative approaches to psychotherapy, and Schultz (1956) used a systematic method for using the mind’s images called the “autogenic training technique.” Especially significant to the more recent publicizing and legitimizing of fantasy psychotherapy were the methods of French psychotherapist Robert Desoille and German psychiatrist Hanscarl Leuner. Desoille’s (1966) work with the waking dream (rêve éveillé) demonstrated that therapist-directed daydreaming could lead patients to increased self-understanding and emotional maturity. Leuner’s (1969) “guided affective imagery” technique involves the guiding of the subject through a series of structured fantasy situations, each with a specific theoretical purpose in analysis and therapy.
Contemporary approaches to Guided Fantasy have moved away from emphasis of the analytic value of imagery and more toward the inherent therapeutic value of the fantasy experience, along with action-oriented approaches for integrating the fantasy experience into positive growth (Kelly, 1974). Shaffer (1972), for example, has used “induced guided fantasy” as a primary mode of treatment with several clients in therapy. “Psychosynthesis” makes use of a variety of Guided Fantasy methods (Crampton, 1969). Behavior therapists have often modified and structured Guided Fantasy for use in Systematic Desensitization.The real history of Guided Fantasy is being written now, as more therapists make use of these techniques and as journals and societies focusing on mental imagery begin to appear. For a more definitive discussion of the history of fantasy therapies, see Margaret Crampton’s (1974) historical survey.
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