ImageWork: The complete guide to working with transformational imagery is a practical, concise and accessible training book for therapists, counsellors, coaches, consultants, supervisors and helping professionals, focusing on how best to work with the imagination to enhance learning, health, creativity, or spiritual discovery. The book is available for purchase online.
ImageWork is the interactive imagery approach I have developed over more than forty years to help clients understand themselves and guide their lives. It is a method of engaging both imaginal and verbal thought processes to create powerfully effective understanding and transformation. For the first time, I am uncovering the building blocks of ImageWork, the toolkit it offers, and the context it thrives in, and sharing these with practitioners who are committed to transformation.
Our thoughts, feelings, behaviour and well being are all grounded in our imagination, in deeply held pictures of ourselves and the world emerging from our earliest childhood to the present day, that are guiding our lives often without us realising it. Transforming this powerful yet often invisible background imagery and creating a new picture of self and world that is more life affirming must therefore form part of any significant change process. Much of what is referred to as the plasticity of the brain, could as well be thought of as the plasticity of the imagination.
We know that people seek change, but also fear change. The secret of Imagework is that by going directly to the imagination, we can work quickly and effectively to show, not tell, when the old images are past their sell by date, and it is time for a change.
We are using imagery all the time, whether or not we are conscious of it, and it affects not only our actions, feelings and thoughts, but even our autonomic nervous system. Every time you witness and work with a client’s vivid memory, release a traumatic experience from their body, help them plan the future, invite them to imagine a conversation with their mother or their inner child or the partner who has just died, help transform their attitude to a painful experience, invite them ask advice from an inner advisor, or indeed explore their feelings about life and death, you are using words, but you are also imagining something that is not physically there in the room with you, and yet feels as if it is. That is an image.
Most practitioners would agree that the more vivid is the image or memory picture that emerges in a session, the more powerful is the potential for transformation. Yet how do you make sure that you are getting the image to work at its powerful best?
Ironically, because working with imagery is so ubiquitous, it has often been overlooked as a discrete focus of training (Pincus & Sheikh, 2011). This book aims to remedy this gap by training people in the approach and the use of language that is most effective in working with the imagination, and providing a toolbox of over 30 scripts to choose from and to adapt.