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Therapeutic Relaxation

Part One. General Strategies

  1. Melissa A. Day,
  2. Joshua C. Eyer,
  3. Beverly E. Thorn

Published Online: 29 NOV 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118528563.wbcbt08

The Wiley Handbook of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The Wiley Handbook of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

How to Cite

Day, M. A., Eyer, J. C. and Thorn, B. E. 2013. Therapeutic Relaxation. The Wiley Handbook of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Part One:8:1–24.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 29 NOV 2013


Relaxation techniques are an increasingly important part of modern therapeutic paradigms for numerous biopsychosocial disorders. In essence, all relaxation techniques elicit a broad relaxation response associated with characteristic changes in physiological, muscular, and cognitive/affective processes. Core relaxation techniques of the therapeutic arsenal include breathing techniques, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback, autogenic training, hypnosis, and meditation. This chapter describes the theory, clinical implementation, and efficacy research associated with each of these approaches. Technique-specific and broad clinical indications and contraindications are discussed. While an abundance of research has focused on the question of whether relaxation works, minimal research has focused on answering the question of how relaxation works. In this chapter we argue that to demonstrate the true public health value of relaxation interventions, future research needs to verify not only that various relaxation techniques work, but that they work for the reasons specified by the associated theory.


  • relaxation techniques;
  • breathing techniques;
  • guided imagery;
  • progressive muscle relaxation;
  • biofeedback;
  • autogenic training;
  • hypnosis;
  • meditation;
  • theory;
  • mechanism