Q and A


What is AT for?  It is for self-balancing your brain, body, emotions, and mind.

AT’s roots are firmly in medicine.  AT is a long established, evidence-based practice which teaches you a method for self-balancing  your emotions, body and mind, thus changing your stress reactions for the better.   AT allows whole person ‘housekeeping’ to gently and safely happen by itself using your own natural self-healing resources and processes.  Advice of a GP or consultant should be sought before undertaking to learn AT if you are seeking to learn it for a specific medical condition or symptom.

Where does the word ‘autogenic’ come from and what does it mean?

Autogenic comes from the Greek word autogenetos, and it means “originating within the body”, “self-generated”, “self-produced”, “self-born”.  Autogenous is a word commonly used in life sciences, and it is the word Dr Johannes Schultz (AT’s developer) used.

What’s the process for learning AT?

In quiet repose.  Anyone can do it.  No special clothing or difficult postures are used so even people in wheelchairs or who are bed-bound can learn and practice AT.

  • When you join an AT course, here’s what happens after your initial chat with your AT therapist to decide that AT is for you.
  • You meet your AT therapist 1:1 or in a group, either F2F or by Skype or Zoom for an hour a week for eight weeks.  There is one follow up session about 8 weeks later.  You do the main ‘work’ of learning AT in private between classes. The focus is on your own empowerment, your own mastery of a new life skill.
  • You use sitting or lying postures to minimize strain on your muscles and bones and on your internal organs.  You teach yourself to maintain a passive, observing, letting go attitude of being in the present moment without judgment.
  • You concentrate on silently repeating phrases associated with your body’s experience of relaxation. You can take between two and ten minutes to rest peacefully doing your AT practice.
  • You keep a log of your daily practice and your experience with AT.  You talk with your AT therapist so training can be tailored to meet your specific needs.

What is the focus in how is AT taught?

Learning AT is a self-education process.  You are a learner, not a patient. The focus is on changes you would like to make that are right for you. And the focus is your therapist guiding you in how to help yourself. Our therapists take an encouraging, collegial, educational approach.  They are your teachers and guides.  They help you focus on your own growth and learning, on what feels right for you, on what you can do for yourself.  They believe that you are competent to master the skills and that you want to willingly participate in your own healing and self-balancing processes.

What kinds of benefits can AT practice bring?

Keep in mind that each person’s response to AT is uniquely their own.  Here’s what some people who learned AT have said:

  • I discovered how my mind works, how to rebalance it and enhance my whole brain thinking and feeling
  • I learned how to find a safe focus for my attention and how to keep safely focused
  • I notice now when I feel anxious or moody early on
  • I’ve learned how to choose to bring myself to a calm and relaxed state
  • I continue to explore coming out of my head and into my heart
  • I enjoy sliding into a more restful nightly sleep much more easily
  • I am kinder to me, I judge myself less often and less harshly
  • I have a better understanding and acceptance of myself and who I am
  • I’ve found new meaning in life itself and in my relationships
  • I’ve discovered and re-connected freely with my authentic self and with the beauty within me and the world around me
  • I’m now able to set clear, realistic goals and figure out how to achieve them

Is AT a psychotherapy?

In a way it may be.  AT’s developers called AT a “small psychotherapy” because of the way it helped hospital patients on wait-lists for psychotherapy come off the lists, feeling better.

Although AT is not a talking therapy, regular AT practice may bring similar benefits.  Like Mindfulness practice, research shows that when AT is combined with other talking therapies those therapies have been shown to work better, with positive benefits carrying on for longer.  With AT, instead of talking things through there can come a changed awareness at the level of perception.  This changes things for the better. There are no right or wrong results during the practice of AT.  Carrying out AT practice with the right mental attitude is what is fostered.

What else is AT good for?

AT is about self-balancing, about off-loading stress and feeling safe in yourself in almost any circumstance. AT is about stress prevention, performance improvement, and creativity enhancement, too.  Click HERE to read about AT in the News and HERE to read some Peer Review Journal Articles about the effectiveness of AT for a variety of situations and conditions.

Our Society’s Roots

Autogenic Training was developed in the early 20th century by the neuro-psychiatrist Dr Johannes Schultz (1884 – 1970).  He worked from his patients’ descriptions of their experiences of relaxation during hypnosis.

Between 1894 and 1904 Schultz studied with Oscar Vogt, a physician and hypnotherapist. It was Vogt’s, his colleague Brodmann’s, and Schultz’s research into hypnosis, in particular, that formed the basis for Schultz’s development of Autogenic methods.  This was his lifelong work.

Schultz developed AT with the goal of eliminating people’s reliance on a therapist.  He wanted to teach people to actively regulate their own experience by entering and coming out of deep relaxation by themselves.  Schultz carried out a large number of studies on the effects of AT.  Most of these studies took measurements from individuals, such as heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate.  Schultz also did some studies with groups.  Given AT’s effectiveness, its ease of learning, ease of use, and the low cost of teaching it in groups, AT quickly spread throughout Europe and to North America and the Far East by the 1940s.

LutheDr Wolfgang Luthe was Schultz’ student in the 1940s.  He studied psychosomatic medicine and Autogenic Therapy.  In the late 1940s, Luthe emigrated to Montreal, Canada where he continued to develop Autogenic Therapy as Assistant Professor of Psychophysiology at the University of Montreal. Schultz and Luthe collaborated in writing and collating research into all aspects of Autogenic Therapy.  In 1969, a year before Schultz’s death, they published the first three of the six volumes on Autogenic Therapy.  These volumes now constitute the seminal work on the subject in English.

In 1978 Dr. Malcolm Carruthers and psychotherapist Vera Diamond studied Autogenic Therapy with Dr. Luthe in Montreal.  They brought his cathartic version of the Schultz method to Britain. The first Autogenic Training courses were held in Queen Anne Street in London in 1979.  Later, Dr Luthe contributed to the therapist training courses of 1982 and 1983, introducing his innovations of the cathartic Intentional Off-loading Exercises.  In addition, British AT therapists experienced Luthe’s methods in Autogenic Neutralisation and Creativity Mobilisation Technique.

Our Society’s Founding

Autogenic Training was first used in the National Health Service (NHS) in the late 1950s and since the founding of our Society as a professional body for UK-based autogenic therapists in 1984, AT’s use has expanded in the UK. In the same year the Society was founded, Medlik and Fursland, clinical psychologists in the NHS, reported in Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice (v57, issue 2, pp. 181-185) on AT’s use as a cost effective treatment for stress and anxiety.  In 1999 the Society’s name changed from British Association for Autogenic Training and Therapy (BAFATT) to the British Autogenic Society (BAS) and in 2001 BAS obtained its charitable status, registration #1092448.

Our Society’s aims are:

  • Educating the public about Autogenic Therapies
  • Setting the educational and qualification standards for Autogenic Therapists and providing for their professional training
  • Setting the professional codes of ethics and practice for Autogenic Therapists and responding to public concerns about BAS member therapists
  • Encouraging and supporting the carrying out of quality research on AT
  • Continuing dialogue with allied colleagues and organisations including NICE, the NHS, BPS, Universities and Hospitals, and Autogenic Societies around the world

Our members actively work to encourage Patient Choice amongst stress management therapies and to ensure the continued availability of AT as a widely-used form of treatment across the UK – available on recommendation from doctors, health centres, primary care centres and schools.

Our Society actively promotes equality and diversity within our membership. 

We have no political affiliations and we welcome, respect and value people from all nationalities, races, gender identities and orientations, ages, social classes, disabilities, and political, religious, non-religious and spiritual persuasions.

Our volunteer Board of Trustees runs the Society.

The British Autogenic Society is a charity run by volunteer Trustees.  All the Trustees at present are Full Members of the Society who have chosen to dedicate their time and energies to ensure Autogenic Therapists receive the support they need to continue practising AT and to train others so that more people learn and gain from the benefits of this effective non-drug, self-help approach to reducing the symptoms of stress and other conditions.

Chairperson & Treasurer,  Judith Wren, BA, DipAT
Vice Chair, Anne Whybrow, RMN, RNT, DipAP
Trustee, Sr Treasa Ridge, DipAT
Trustee, Ruth T Naylor, MBA, DipAT, DipCBH, PhD
Trustee, Jane Morris, BEd(Hons), LAMSC, PGC-AT

Our Patron  is Dr Roger Neighbour, OBE, MA, DSc, FRCGP, FRCP, FRACGP Past President of the Royal College of General Practitioners and author of standard GP training works.

Our members come from different educational backgrounds and life experiences.

Many of our therapists belong to various groups such as the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), the British Psychological Society (BPS), the European Flow Researchers’ Network (EFRN), the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), the General Medical Council (GMC), and the British Association of Counseling & Psychotherapy (BACP).

Our Society is listed in the Therapy Directory (www.therapy-directory.org.uk) and is a member of the International Society of Autogenic Training and Psychotherapy (ISATAP) and of its predecessor organisation, the International Committee on Autogenic Therapy (ICAT).