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Dean W. Owen, Jr., Ph.D., LPCC Professor of Counseling Morehead State University Guided Imagery : Strategies for Insight and Behavior Change.

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Presentation on theme: "Dean W. Owen, Jr., Ph.D., LPCC Professor of Counseling Morehead State University Guided Imagery : Strategies for Insight and Behavior Change."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dean W. Owen, Jr., Ph.D., LPCC Professor of Counseling Morehead State University Guided Imagery : Strategies for Insight and Behavior Change

2 The Usual Disclaimer After viewing this presentation do not attempt to operate motorized equipment. Not to be taken internally Avoid prolonged contact with the skin The following material portrays scenes which some viewers may find disturbing…parental discretion is advised. No animals were harmed during the production of this presentation.

3 …and to share some ideas about fantasy and imagery as useful and valuable tools for change….

4 Plan for the next two hours Hour one: A very rapid discussion of Guided Imagery (GI) Hour two: Some demonstrations and an opportunity to plan, write, and practice some GI experiences OK??? Hang on…we’ll move fast, take no prisoners…but if you have a question just stop me!!

5 Imagination… One of things that makes us human…we can anticipate or expect the future Three Generations of us sat and listened to the radio and imagined...lost in a world of self-created images…TV came along and it became “Illustrated Radio”…we no longer have to imagine…we are shown someone’s view of the world…. Albert Einstein is said to have come up with his theory of relativity by imagining himself sitting atop a beam of light…. It is imagination….expressed through fantasy and imagery, that can become a magnificent and versatile tool for growth, insight, and change.

6 Fantasy and Relaxation Go Hand in Hand….Soooooooo Sit comfortably with your back straight and close your eyes for a few moments…. Focus on your breathing… Pay attention to your breath as it flows in and out of your lungs Slowly and rhythmically As you focus on your breathing… And continue to breathe slowly and deeply Gradually relax…deeper and deeper…. You are relaxing…and as you breathe slowly, deeply, and naturally… Feel the chatter of your mind become calm and quiet. Feel your mind become clear and spacious Your thoughts are like puffy clouds, drifting in and out…in and out Until finally, you have no thoughts left…your mind is clear and very calm As you breathe deeply……

7 Imagine yourself walking on a beach….feel the warm sand on the bottoms of your feet…Do you recognize this place? Have you been here before? Smell the sea air and listen to the gulls I want you to go for a walk down the beach now….and when you’re ready to return, just open your eyes and sit quietly. p

8 Now a few questions for you….. Could you feel the warm sand….smell the salt air or hear the gulls? Did you recognize the beach…… What was that brief experience like for you? Pleasant? Uncomfortable? Were you able to imagine yourself on the beach?

9 Some Fundamental Definitions: Mind-Body Connection…. Visualization Relaxation Response Spontaneous Fantasy (Imagery) Guided Fantasy (Imagery)

10 The Mind/Body Connection ….. The link between that which is perceived and a physiological response is well documented and experienced by everyone. This is not “New Age” or mystical at all…it is physiological and is the basis for guided imagery…. Consider Freud’s concept of Anxiety…. Objective Anxiety: Fear in response to something that can hurt you… (Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Royal Bengal Tiger, an armed intruder in your home…..) Neurotic Anxiety: Fear in response to something that cannot “hurt” you physically…. (Public speaking, social rejection, failing a math test) The body’s response is identical…..Whether experienced in real time or via one’s imagination……

11 Stress as a physiological response An event occurs in the perceptual field This event is perceived (real or imagined) and evaluated for threat potential in relation to the individual If the event is perceived as threatening a series of physiological responses are elicited which prepare the individual for fight or flight.

12 The adrenals are stimulated to produce adrenaline related hormones into the bloodstream which trigger a flood of physical events including: a. increased cardiac rate b. elevated blood pressure (Hypertension) c. increased respiration rate: becoming rapid and shallow d. release of stored energy from the liver in the blood e. pupillary dilation f. increased sensory sensitivity g. tensing of the muscles for movement or protective action h. Activation of blood clotting mechanisms I. Shutdown of the digestive system, making blood more available to oxygenate the muscles j. constriction of blood flow to the extremities k.profuse diaphoresis Most of these symptoms are rather unpleasant feelings and it is the awareness of these symptoms that cause us to say….”Hell, I’m stressed!!”

13 Most of these symptoms are rather unpleasant feelings and it is the awareness of these symptoms that cause us to say…. ”Hell, I’m stressed!!”

14 The obligatory History Reference…… Joseph Wolpe ( ) Systematic Desensitization/Reciprocal Inhibition One of the first techniques that used fantasy and imagery for behavior change…. Three Step Process: 1.Teach the relaxation response 2.Create a hierarchy of stress provoking scenes or images…. 3.Progress through the hierarchy by pairing images of anxiety provoking stimuli with relaxation to weaken the association.

15 The relaxation response Nearly all clients come to counseling in a state of stress which inherently sets limits on what can be accomplished. To reduce this stress there are two options…. A: Treat the stress response with chemicals…. B. Teach the client to relax…. relaxation is a physiological response that can be taught as a skill to be mastered. Teaching a client how to relax is the key to using fantasy and imagery effectively.

16 The relaxation response Goal: To relieve tension and to prepare for deep relaxation or guided imagery Time: 1-2 minutes Warm-up: Breathing is a powerful building block for relaxation. The quick breath technique can be used any time, any place, for rapid relaxation and mental focusing. Breath Script Close your eyes for a couple of minutes…. The easiest body-only technique for relaxation is something you’ve been doing since your arrival in the world….breathing. Everyone breathes, but few know how to breath for relaxation. Stop now, and take a truly relaxing breath… Inhale through your nose with a shallow breath…And exhale through your mouth…. Inhale slightly more deeply now….and exhale now with sound…. Inhale more deeply….and again exhale forcefully…. Inhale to capacity…..And exhale completely, emptying your lungs all of the way… Repeat this breath cycle ten times…Or until you feel completely relaxed…. Maintaining a steady rhythm of inhalations and exhalations as you breathe……

17 The relaxation response Progressive, Passive, Relaxation (PPR) Extended Demonstration

18 Spontaneous Fantasy This is the naturally occurring imagery that all of us experience….. 1.Totally under our control 2.May be pleasant (fantasy) 3.May be unpleasant (worry) 4.Naturally occurring 5.Paying attention to it can be like using a projective test

19 Fantasy is: A very natural and quite normal inner experience usually involving imagery from one or more of the senses. Unlike the dreams of sleep, fantasy is completely under one’s control. Fantasy is a very safe technique to use with clients of all ages….

20 Fantasy…… A very private, inner experience usually occurring at times of cognitive or sensory “boredom”…Remember high school English class??? Mother Nature’s attempt at self-stimulation…to keep our nervous systems awake and responsive…but also an excellent source of information for and about your client The projective hypothesis: If one presents to a client a vague and non- specific request….the answer will be an expression of who and what the client is, knows about, cares about, is concerned with, etc…….. Consider the Rorschach, The TAT, or the Kinetic Family Drawing

21 What do you see here? a.An animal skin b.Sylvester the cat after an unfortunate encounter with a steamroller c.An unusually detailed map of Rhode Island d.The liver of a very prominent statesman

22 Spontaneous Fantasy can become a way of suspending reality just long enough to get a clear view of your client’s: Needs, Wants, Knowledge, Values, and Preferences, Fears…… plus a lot of other stuff if you care to listen… Would anyone care to share…..A fantasy career, perhaps?

23 Guided Imagery and Visualization Guided Imagery is a kind of directed daydreaming, a way of using the imagination in a focused, directed way to help mind and body heal, stay strong, and perform without limitations. Initially, a person is guided through progressive relaxation to a comfortable and peaceful state. In the process of guided imagery, a person, in a relaxed state, visualizes a series of directed images that create vivid and useful vicarious experiences in a safe and controlled environment. A mental Flight Simulator if you will……

24 Guided Imagery and Visualization Guided imagery capitalizes on the incredible capacity of the imagination to create and recreate sensory images that have a powerful impact on the mind and body..

25 For counselors Fantasy and Imagery can be a rich source of information, power, motivation, and energy which can be harnessed and put to work…. Memory: images of what has been..PTSD “Flashbacks”…. Fantasy: images of what can be….

26 Benefits Structured Fantasy Guided Imagery It’s free It’s safe Everyone does it anyway… Can be used anywhere to go anywhere and be or do anything……

27 OK but what can you do with it?? Within Current Medical Practice Cardiac RateRespiratory Rate Blood PressureO 2 consumption Intestinal Motility Sexual Arousal Immune SystemBlood Sugar Perception of Pain Remember that “Mind-Body” thing???

28 There is also evidence that imagery and fantasy can also enhance Problem solving Coping with change/loss Decision Making Behavioral change Attitude adjustment

29 The use of fantasy/imagery need not be a “stand alone” technique …It can be easily integrated into many forms therapy including: CBT (vicarious behavioral rehearsal) Gestalt (Unfinished Business) Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (Scaling& miracle questions)

30 Now some Stories Assess: maturity, values, knowledge, needs, drives, fears, etc Teach: Go anywhere, be anything, do anything…try anything…. Explore: new attitudes, beliefs, vocations, lifestyles, ad infinitum Evaluate options: vicariously experience the effects of choices… Relax: no duh? Rehearse: try new and adaptive behaviors again and again…

31 Four Phases of a Guided Fantasy Introduction Induction Fantasy Processing

32 Four Phases of a Guided Fantasy I. Introduction 1. Explain the rationale and process to the client. 2. Answer any questions & deal with any expressions of self-consciousness. 3. Select a place relatively free from extraneous stimuli…subdued lighting and quiet 4. Ask the client to adopt a posture which will be comfortable for minutes. 5. Allow a few moments of quiet before beginning 6. The goal is to de-mystify the entire process…..

33 Four Phases of a Guided Fantasy II. Induction 1. This is basically just a brief relaxation exercise designed to achieve two goals…. a. Relaxation (obviously) b. To establish compliant imaging…. 2.Vocal rate and quality are important so speak softly, slowly, and give the client sufficient time to conjure up the images you are creating and suggesting….a monotone voice is preferred. 3. A common technique is to utilize commercially available audio tapes of streams, woodland and forest sounds, or surf as background to the relaxation exercise.

34 Four Phases of a Guided Fantasy III. Fantasy 1. Select either a “stock” fantasy or create a customized one to be used for teaching or exploration. 2. In a fantasy you can take your clients anywhere you, or they, can imagine. You can let them do or be anything…You can impose as much reality as you wish beginning with little or none as you explore options. Later on you can impose a great deal more as you evaluate tentative choices or courses of action. 3. Avoid any unnecessary cues which could upset or interrupt a fantasy. 4. Select either an “open” or “closed” ending for the fantasy but, in either case, allow plenty of time….don’t rush the process.

35 A Possible Future

36 The Statue

37 Four Phases of a Guided Fantasy IV. Processing: Don’t Interpret! 1. The principle goal of this entire process is to provide a mechanism by which a client can learn and gain insight. This is probably best done by inviting you client to share the experience. 2. Your task and role is to enhance and make more vivid the entire fantasy experience for the client. Please avoid the temptation to explain or interpret the meaning of the client’s fantasy. The goal is to get the client involved with finding meaning in these experiences (insight) and besides, you’ll probably be wrong anyway. Nobody knows your clients better than they. 3. A useful technique is to ask the client to write down a synopsis of the fantasy immediately upon its completion and before too much can be forgotten. Remember, your function is to provide the structure and your clients provide the content.

38 Frequently Asked Questions Is it necessary for clients to be relaxed before the fantasy begins? Generally, yes. One cannot fully attend to the experience unless there is some degree of relaxation present. Expect your client to relax and become more fully involved as you use this technique more and more.

39 Frequently Asked Questions How do you deal with a resistant client? In most cases, a simple description of how normal and natural the entire process is will cause a client to try it with you. Listen to your client and respect his or her concerns and never insist on participation. In most cases clients will become very interested after having experienced relaxation and a few pleasant fantasy experiences.

40 Frequently Asked Questions Are there any dangers in using guided imagery or fantasy? In more than 30 years I can think of none…except some clients become so relaxed that they fall asleep during an exercise or become so involved in the experience that they are reluctant to return and open their eyes. Normally, a gentle reminder to open their eyes is enough.

41 Let’s Create Some Guided Imagery Step I. Think of your work setting and the clients with whom you usually work. Step 2. What do you wish to accomplish with this exercise…. Assess Evaluate options TeachRehearse ExploreRelax

42 Let’s Create Some Guided Imagery Step 3. Write down the “skeleton” of a script….You might try…. “The perfect_____” Day at work, family, car, house, job, retirement location, relationship, marriage, ad infinitum….. The key is provide prompts…not content..

43 What Questions have you??

44 Conclusion Imagination can be a power tool for change…. The link between imagery and physiologic response to clear… Structured Fantasy won’t cure cancer or HIV but can be of value in enhancing the quality of life for those suffering from these conditions Structured or guided fantasy can teach, permit exploration, allow rehearsal, help relax, and can perform much the same function that a flight simulator performs…allowing one to confront stress and life situations in a safe and controlled fashion. This technique is simple, safe, and exquisitely versatile and seems limited only by one’s imagination which is what all of this has been about anyway….. I hope you will share with me your experiences as you try this with your clients….. Thank You for your attention. D. Owen


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