Autogenic training

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Autogenic training in the lying position

Autogenic training is an autosuggestion- based relaxation procedure . It was developed from hypnosis by the Berlin psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz , first presented in 1926 and published in 1932 in his book The autogeneous training . Today autogenic training is a widespread and - for example in Germany and Austria even legally - recognized psychotherapy method.


Autogenic (composed of the Greek  αὐτό auto , 'original, automatic' and the Latin genero , 'generate, produce') is strictly speaking not training, but relaxation: The term is a shortened form of training for autogenic relaxation , meaning training for relaxation created from within , as opposed to relaxation achieved from the outside.

In the practice phase today, the relaxation is often, against the basic idea and the express instruction of Johannes Heinrich Schultz, induced from the outside, for example by a trainer or by a sound carrier. The goal, however, is relaxation from within, without any external help and without external support.

The term autogenic training is often abbreviated to AT.


Methods of relaxation and self-interference were already in antiquity known, for example in the Indian yoga teaching or Japanese Zen Meditation. The spiritual basis for this can be found in the Buddhist Satipatthana . However, these methods can hardly be separated from the world view of the respective doctrine, or they lose their effectiveness through such a detachment.

With autogenic training, Johannes Heinrich Schultz developed a technique that should be applicable regardless of the cultural environment and worldview. Before the drafting process, he has long been in a Berlin hypnosis - outpatient clinic operates. Building on this experience, JH Schultz began the preparatory work on autogenic training before the First World War, developed a self-help method based on scientific principles, and published the first work on "Autogenic Organ Exercises" in 1926. The book "The autogenic training" was published in 1932.

The basis for the work and the book was his discovery that most people are able to reach a state of deep relaxation with the help of their imagination alone. For example, in people who imagine intense warmth in their arms, an increase in surface temperature can actually be measured, which is attributed to an increase in blood flow.

The original methods of JH Schultz have since been expanded based on new findings. While autogenic training was originally developed to support the psychotherapeutic treatment of sick people, today autogenic training is also used by healthy people, for example to increase the general quality of life, to improve athletic performance or learning and to increase performance in management.

Basics and classification

The autogenic training arose from observations that Schultz made in the course of his hypnosis research. Schultz called his procedure "concentrative self-relaxation", and this relaxation of the muscles was the basis of his psychotherapy method. According to Schultz, the calm is created by the muscle relaxation and the message communicated to the brain in this form: " There is calm in the periphery ". Within the psychotherapeutic procedure, autogenic training can therefore be assigned to the area of body therapy , because the starting point and the basis are initially only physical changes in muscle and vascular tension.

At the same time, autogenic training can be seen as self-hypnosis. Because with autogenic training, the trainee puts himself into the "switched" state through autosuggestion. Under switching Schultz sees the change from the normal waking state into an altered, hypnotic state of consciousness. Except before going to bed, this switchover is canceled after each training session (in technical jargon: "withdrawn").

Levels and areas of application


The autogenic training is divided into three stages:

  • The basic level (formerly known as the lower level): Your techniques apply to the autonomic nervous system .
  • The organ exercises: The organ exercises regulate the functions of the individual organs .
  • The upper level: Your methods aim to influence behavior through formulaic resolution. Their methods open up unconscious areas of the trainee.

The areas of application of autogenic training for healthy people are mainly in stress reduction, in sport, in manager training, in the prevention of burnout syndrome and in the area of ​​learning.

Medical indications for autogenic training are traditionally neuroses , phobic disorders and psychosomatic illnesses , for example fear of flying and claustrophobia , stomach ulcers and accompanying therapies for cancer.

The elementary and intermediate level

The basic level consists of 7 exercises:

  1. Experience the tranquility
  2. Experience the heaviness
  3. Experience the warmth
  4. breath
  5. Solar plexus
  6. Heart exercise
  7. Cold forehead

Effect of the individual reports

Elementary level

Calm The calm report introduces relaxation.

Heaviness The heaviness report lets the muscles relax. We allow ourselves to give our whole body weight to the mat. The muscles are loosened, blockages are released. The muscles become warm and better supplied with blood.

Warmth The warmth exercise dilates the arteries and blood vessels. The body is supplied with blood down to the small capillaries of the fingertips and toes. A cozy warmth spreads throughout the body. Measurable increase in body temperature on the surface of the skin.

Organ exercises (intermediate level)

Breath Every breath deepens the calm. Breathing becomes deeper, changing from shallow chest breathing to deep abdominal breathing. The quality of breathing improves significantly.

Solar plexus The stomach is very warm. The stomach, intestines and internal organs relax, gastric acid production is regulated, and the bowel movement (peristalsis) increases.

Heart The heart formula helps regulate blood pressure on a permanent basis. The pulse rate and heart rate are normalized.

Cool forehead My forehead is smooth and cool - this rapport helps relax the facial muscles. Tension and headaches give way.

The suggestions are made in simple, short sentences.

The intermediate level / organ exercises

The intermediate level is an outdated level in autogenic training, which covers the organ exercises. In the more recent literature, the intermediate level is no longer mentioned. Today we speak of the basic level and the exercises for advanced learners, the resolution formulas.

The upper school

The upper level, already designed psychoanalytically by Schultz, is used in various forms as therapy, for example in the formula-free method by Hartmut Kraft or in the analytical upper level by Heinrich Wallnöfer , which specifically uses psychoanalytic techniques. A preliminary stage to the analytical upper stage is the "design before and after autogenic training", with which the transition to psychoanalytic work can be facilitated.

Depending on the variety of high school methods, there are also different numbers of exercises. J. H. Schultz, Günther Krapf , Wolfgang Luthe , Karl Robert Rosa , Klaus Thomas and Heinrich Wallnöfer use 7 to 9 formulas.


Basic level exercises


Autogenic training is usually learned in group, less often in individual, sessions under the guidance of a doctor, psychologist or other AT trainer within 6 to 8 weeks. Self-study is also possible with the help of books or CDs and DVDs.

Experience has shown that learning the method in a group under professional guidance is easier than doing self-study and has been recommended since Schultz.

During the exercise, the posture should be comfortable for the user. You should exercise lying down at least once a day and sitting down once a day. The traditional attitudes are:

  1. Cab driver posture.
  2. Sitting posture on a chair.
  3. Sitting posture with armrests.
  4. Sitting posture with armrests and headrest.
  5. Lying position.
  6. Desk posture.

Since the procedure is based on autosuggestion, these postures are tried and tested, but by no means mandatory aids to getting started. For learning, it is primarily important that the posture adopted is comfortable for the duration of the exercise so that practicing the formulas is not disturbed. With increasing experience, posture plays a decreasing role.

The exercises of the basic level in detail

Practice three times a day if possible. The practitioner should generally feel comfortable with the exercises, take a comfortable position and, if necessary, change his posture. You should practice at least once a day while lying down and once a day while sitting. The practitioner has to find out individually how best to imagine the content of the formulas. It is important that the formulas are always used in the same wording so that conditioning takes place.

It starts with the formula: ›I am very calm‹ (“calm tone”). This rest is then physically practiced in the heavy exercise:

Difficulty exercise
JH Schultz: "If the
sentence › I am very calm ‹is understood in the appropriate way, it is not practiced, but as the first exercise we give our test subjects the formula:› the arm is very heavy ‹". The first exercise formula is therefore specifically, together with the name of the arm: “The right arm is very heavy.” Or “The dominant arm is very difficult”, in order to treat left-handers in the same way as right-handers . Then the suggestion of heaviness in the other arm follows. The spread of gravity over the whole body is not explicitly practiced, instead it arises gradually by itself. This is called generalization .

After an estimated five to seven repetitions of the relaxation formula related to individual areas of the body, the general rest formula follows as the "objective": "I am very calm."

Warmth exercise
The formula is, for example: "Both arms are very warm." Usually this and the previous exercise are then
pulled together to form an overall exercise: "Both arms are very heavy and very warm."

Heart exercise
If there are no medical reasons
calling for a different formula, the heart is next addressed: "The heart beats calmly and strongly."

Exercise The aim of breathing exercise is to let natural control over your breathing. The formula for the first few weeks is: "Breathing is calm and even." Later, the formula - semantically somewhat idiosyncratic - can also be: "It breathes me."

As with the heart exercise, it may be medically necessary to use a different formula.

Belly warmth
The original formula is: "The solar plexus is pouring warm." The formula can be replaced by "The stomach is pouring warm".

Forehead coolness
The forehead
formula aims at a high level of mental clarity: "The forehead is pleasantly cool."

Practitioners who are prone to migraines or other headaches must discuss the forehead formula with a doctor and can, for example, use the alternative formula "The head is free and light."

More important than concrete training success is learning what is known as "taking back". The withdrawal proceeds as follows: First the fists are clenched. Then you hit your shoulders with your tightly clenched fists with strong muscle effort and then let your arms fall loosely into the starting position. This is done three or five times. The last time you keep your clenched fists up, take a short break, take a jerky deep breath, then tear your eyes and fists open at the same time and make a short, explosive sound. If the trainee does not feel fresh, the process is repeated. Before going to bed, where the third exercise usually takes place, is not withdrawn. Instead, the exercising person turns sideways and falls asleep.


The protocol

The protocol is an important part of autogenic training. Once a day the practitioner should write down what he experienced during the three exercises. Dealing with what has been experienced is an essential prerequisite for the success of training, both in the context of therapy and in the context of training a healthy person in the sense of general life support.

The intermediate level exercises

General information about the intermediate level

As with the Katathym-Imaginative Psychotherapy according to Hanscarl Leuner , the exercises that form the transition to the upper level are also summarized in the "intermediate level" in autogenic training:

  1. the formulaic resolution,
  2. the creation before and after autogenic training.

The formulaic resolution

The resolution formulas should be discussed with the trainer so that there are no disruptions. In addition to avoiding the negative, the formulas should be short and clear. For example: “I stay calm”, or “Noise completely indifferent”. These formulas are best appended to the rest formula, for example: "I am very calm and stay calm".

The technique of forming intentions is reminiscent of the method of Émile Coué , who achieved good results with “automated” autosuggestion, for example with the formula “It's better, it's better” or “Must be quiet” or, in short: “Murusei”. In contrast to Coué's formulas, the formulas in autogenic training never contain negative things (that is, no words such as “not” or “no”) and no hints of compulsion, for example the word “must”.

Designing before and after autogenic training

This partial method of autogenic training was developed by Heinrich Wallnöfer in the 1970s with colleagues from the psychotherapeutic seminar at the Vienna Psychiatric Clinic. It consists in the fact that the practitioners create something with means such as pens, watercolors or modeling clay before training ; the eight colors of the controversial Lüscher color test are traditionally given. In this way, the trainees should let their hands work uninhibited, according to the approach used by Marianne Martin “Look what your hands are doing.” Because the trainees achieve psychoanalytic knowledge comparatively often, these design exercises are viewed as a good transition to the upper level.

The sixth form exercises

Development of the upper level

In 1929 JH Schultz published a scientific paper with the title “Higher levels of tasks in autogenic training” at the fourth “Congress for Psychotherapy” in Bad Nauheim . In this work he mentions the possibility of auto-psychoanalysis "often to a surprising depth". He developed an advanced level technique that is still valid today, which Wolfgang Luthe subsequently brought into the Anglo-Saxon-speaking area (autogenic meditation).

JH Schultz demanded thorough analytical training for coaches who wanted to work with the upper level - at that time he mainly thought of doctors.

High school exercises in different schools

The sixth form exercises are as follows:

  1. Let "any" color appear and "find your own color".
  2. Make objects appear.
  3. "See" abstract objects.
  4. Experience emotional states - experience "self-feeling".
  5. See other people.
  6. Questions to the unconscious.

Klaus Thomas has developed an exercise set for the upper level that offers a lot of aids and extensive auto-suggestions, while JH Schultz always worked with absolutely identical, short formulas because he attaches great importance to constant conditioning. Thomas built so-called “journeys” into the exercise set for the upper school, for example the “journey to the seabed” or the “journey up the mountain”. These trips were taken over by some of the other students of JH Schultz.

From the first two upper level forms by JH Schultz and Klaus Thomas, further individual forms of the upper level have developed with various trainers.

Autogenic Imagination

The so-called autogenic imagination (also absolutely abstinent analytical form ) is a form of the upper level of autogenic training that was developed by Hartmut Kraft and does not require any formulas. The trainees first paint a mood picture and then write a mood text on the back. There are no further requirements. Daydreams are recorded and presented to the other exercisers. The participants practice using the material "autogenously", that is, on their own.

The analytical advanced level

The analytical upper level was developed by Heinrich Wallnöfer mainly from the approaches of JH Schultz, Klaus Thomas and Wolfgang Luthe. The essential thing is to incorporate psychoanalytic techniques into the process. The main concern is that the trainee learns the so-called evenly floating attention to himself, as Sigmund Freud demanded of the analyst.

The techniques of the analytical advanced level are:

  • the silence
  • the silent, "attentive" listening
  • the "neutral", "abstinent" questions
  • the careful pointing
  • the exact repetition of a sentence or a passage
  • the (careful) interpretation
  • dealing with the regression
  • editing symbols that appear
  • uncovering negative occupations
  • the editing of "slip of the tongue" in the formulas (also already at the basic level)
  • the Carte - blanche method of Luthe
  • the "secretive" group
  • the analytical-group dynamic events

The formulas of the analytical advanced level are:

  • Free color (with this formula the analytical upper level is always started)
  • Self-chosen color
  • Letting a lemon emerge from a deep, rich blue
  • Let the cube, circle, triangle arise
  • Dive into the sea and move up a mountain
  • Free and self-chosen abstract term
  • Free and self-chosen other person
  • Free and chosen feeling
  • Question to the unconscious.
  • After a long period of practice: see yourself

The technique of choosing the "free color" and "finding the own color" is shown here:

See also


  • JH Schultz: The autogenic training (concentrative self-relaxation). Attempt of a clinical-practical presentation . Thieme, Leipzig 1932.
  • JH Schultz: The original exercise book for autogenic training. Instructions from the founder of self-relaxation . 24th edition. TRIAS, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8304-3157-0 .
  • JH Schultz: The autogenic training. In: Frankl, Gebsattel, Schultz: Handbuch der Neurosenlehre. Urban and Schwarzenberg, Munich / Berlin / Vienna 1972, ISBN 3-541-05501-4 , p. 339 ff.
  • Henrik Brandt, Steffen Grose: Less stress through autogenic training . CD with booklet. Brandt, Lübeck 2004, ISBN 3-00-014701-2 .
  • Helmut Brenner: Autogenic Training - The Way to Inner Peace . Pabst, Lengerich u. a. 2004, ISBN 3-936142-62-9 .
  • Joseph Garcia: Autogenic Training and Biocybernetics . Hippokrates Stuttgart, 1983, ISBN 3-7773-0594-4
  • Delia Grasberger: Autogenic Training - Over 100 applications for body and soul . 1st edition. With exercise CD. Gräfe and Unzer, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-8338-3414-1 .
  • Marita Hennig: Autogenic training . With CD. Knaur, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-426-66849-1 .
  • Bernt H. Hoffmann, u. a .: Manual autogenic training - basics, technology, application. DTV, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-423-36208-1 .
  • Werner König, Gerhard di Pol, Gerhard Schaeffer: Primer for autogenic training . 10th edition. Fischer, Jena u. a. 1996, ISBN 3-437-31130-1 .
  • Hartmut Kraft: Autogenic training. Practical manual . 4th edition. Deutscher Ärzteverlag, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-7691-0454-4 .
  • Günter Krampen: Introductory courses for autogenic training. A textbook and exercise book for psychosocial practice . 2nd Edition. Verlag für Angewandte Psychologie, Göttingen 1998, ISBN 3-8017-1078-5 .
  • Dietrich Langen: Autogenic training . Gräfe and Unzer, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-7742-2194-4 .
  • Hannes Lindemann : Autogenic training. The proven way to relax . Goldmann, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-442-16595-4 .
  • Isolde Mack: Living from relaxation. Self-help through autogenic training, Kreuz-Verlag, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-7831-0942-6 .
  • Alfred Pritz: (ED): Globalized Psychotherapy. Facultas, Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-85076-605-5 .
  • Karl Robert Rosa: This is autogenic training. Kindler, Munich 1981, ISBN 3-463-00563-8 .
  • Karl Robert Rosa: This is the upper level of autogenic training. ISBN 3-463-00610-3 .
  • Aljoscha Schwarz, Anja Schwarz: Autogenic training. ISBN 978-3-8354-0608-7 .
  • Franz Sedlak, Renate Chiba: The special opportunities of autogenic psychotherapy. Sedlak (EV), Vienna 2005, ISBN 3-9500979-8-8 . (Download: ÖGATAP )
  • Heinrich Wallnöfer: Healthy through autogenic training / autogenic psychotherapy. Novum, Horitschon / Vienna / Munich 2003, ISBN 3-902324-63-5 .
  • Heinrich Wallnöfer: soul without fear. Naglschmid Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-927913-30-8 .
  • Heinrich Wallnöfer: In search of the self. Naglschmid, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-927913-31-6 .
  • Daniel Wilk: Autogenic training - learning calm and serenity . 3. Edition. Huber, Bern 2004, ISBN 3-456-84102-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. JH Schultz: The autogenic training. Concentrative self-relaxation. Stuttgart 1970
  2. A. Pritz: One hundred masterpieces of psychotherapy. Springer, Vienna / New York 2008.
  4. Vorarlberg Regional Health Insurance Fund
  5. JH Schultz: About narcolysis and autogenic organ exercises. Two new psychotherapeutic methods. In: Medical Clinic. 22, 1926, pp. 952-954. Also in D. Langen: The way of autogenic training. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1968.
  6. JH Schultz: The autogenic training. 13th edition. P. 24.
  7. W. Luthe: Autogenic Therapy. Vol. I .: JH Schultz, W. Luthe: Autogenic Methods. P. 142 ff.
  8. JH Schultz: The autogenic training. In: Basics of the theory of neuroses in 2 volumes . Urban and Schwarzenberg, Munich / Berlin / Vienna 1972, vol. 1, p. 369, p. 11 ff.
  9. H. Kraft: Autogenic Training, Methodology, Didactics and Psycho-Dynamics. 3. Revised and expanded edition. Hippokrates, Stuttgart.
  10. ^ H. Wallnöfer: analytical techniques in the upper level of autogenic training. In: Journal for Autogenic Training and General Psychotherapy. 4 (1-4), pp. 75-96.
  11. G. Stumm, A. Pritz: Dictionary of Psychotherapy. Springer, Vienna / New York 2000.
  12. ^ A. Pritz: Globalized Psychotherapy. facultas, Vienna.