Imagination and its place in Therapy

Imagination is the ability to convey thoughts and concepts through images.

Imagination is multisensory in its essence. It is comprised of images that we experience through all our senses.  For many people, the image appears in a  visual form: "I'm drowning", "I'm a songbird", "I'm like a puppet on a string", "I'm captured in my own prison", "there's a wall between you and me"...or as a physical symptom: "I'm choking", "I feel cramps in my stomach", "I feel dizzy", "I tremble with fear"...

Images are the main channel of the 'Body and Soul' to convey messages about our strengths and our weaknesses.They will reveal themselves when we imagine and when we dream.

Each image might have countless meanings: tears can mean joy or sadness and pain, climbing a mountain can be an experience of achievement and success or a hard and endless journey.

Imagination plays an important role in my personal development. Certain images helped me move on in moments of crisis and also led me into insights. At crossroads in my life, certain images reflected my situation, sometimes even before change actually occurred.

 

The goals of the therapeutic imagery process are:

1. To reinforce existing empowering images alongside with prompting new ones.

2. To create a change that will diminish the impact of blocking beliefs and thus allow growth                      and change to take place.

How does this happen?

When a patient presents a conflict or a dead-end situation, I invite him or her to find an image that describes his or her situation. Following my guidance, the patient will play with the image through varied ways of creative expression which will change and expand it, to produce more images of strength and resourcefulness yet concealed to the patient's consciousness.

The following is an example of work through therapeutic imagery:

Tali, a woman in her 40s, had been on a long maternity leave due to difficulties getting back to a job which she described as 'rational and demanding', a job that had become "a golden cage" for her. After giving birth, the need to make a change in her professional life emerged in her.

When she came to me, she was able to say that she wanted to work in something that related to 'Body and Soul', yet, she lacked the courage to make this change both because of its financial price, and because she didn't know exactly what she wanted to do.

I guided her into imaging the reality of her present life. In the imaging process, she saw herself as a bud under the ground.

The image surprised Tali and awakened an excitement in her after which, she described the feeling of a bud in the center of her body. For the first time, she was experiencing something new growing inside her.

Following my guidance, she focused on the physical sensation, empowered it, moved it around and finally drew the bud in her body.

After this session, Tali found the strength to follow her discovery and to try out various courses dealing with 'Body and Soul' which eventually led her to acquire a profession in this field and to materialize her dream.

Karni Ishai

Psychotherapist