Here are some more thoughts about how and when to use guided imagery as part of a therapy session.
Most of these ideas are in my last book, Invisible Heroes, in Chapter 10 - General Guided Imagery Wisdom and Tactics. I threw pretty much every clinical tip I could think of into that chapter, in hopes I would have the good sense never to write another book again. (So far, so good – I’ve done chapters, articles and forwards to other people’s books, and a bunch of new guided imagery audios, but there have been no more 2-year-long book writing opuses for this traveling Grandma…)
These thoughts address some of the questions we get pretty regularly from therapists, counselors, clergy, holistic health practitioners and health care professionals who are interested in using imagery with their people:
Sometimes, if a client is uncomfortable generating or accessing his or her own images, but clearly could use an imagery experience just the same - perhaps they’re anxious or stressed out and need help settling down; or maybe they’re blocked - possibly unclear about what it is they’re feeling and can’t access it some added help… then you might offer some structure to them in the session, providing a platform that allows them to go inward and get informed about what’s happening in there.
I just read about a new, NIH-funded study that begins this month, right here in Northeast Ohio, by a terrific agency called FrontLine, which serves the deinstitutionalized mentally ill, homeless, traumatized and suicidal people of Cleveland and surroundings. They do very hard work and they do it really well.
The study investigates the effectiveness of guided imagery, listened to for 10 minutes, 3 times a week, for 4 weeks, during part of lunch hour, for reducing anxiety, stress, burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma in 126 staff people; and to see if they continue to listen to it after the study is over.
The full description is here: http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT02191345. We’re going to follow this study with great interest to see how it goes. My biggest worry is that these service staff, the minute they feel crunched (which is all the time), will just work through their lunch hour without taking the 10 minutes to listen.
We’ve gotten good feedback on it, and we think it’s cleaner, easier to navigate, and way more user- and smart phone-friendly. Now we’re tweaking it, page by page, trying to make design and architecture work with maximum speed and efficiency, at that level.
So, before we get too far afield, I thought it would be a good idea to check back in with you again, now that you’ve had more time to fiddle around with it, to see what you have to say, what you want next.
Any complaints? Confusions? Irritations? Surprises?
Can you find what you’re looking for?
Is there anything that makes zero sense to you?
Can you still find the research articles you’re looking for?
Was it easy to use the shopping cart?
Is the Q and A database still easy to check in with?
Is there anything you’re finding more difficult than before?
As you may know, Health Journeys has hundreds of professional clinicians who sign up to be part of our Professional Program, mostly so they can get discounted materials for the people they work with. They order so much of it, they feel they should get a break on pricing and we totally agree. (Like me when I was in practice, they lend out their stash of recordings and books and don’t always get them back…. Generosity can become an expensive proposition!)
Our practitioners – social workers, psychologists, nurses, docs, clergy, coaches, midwives, acupuncturists, PT’s and OT’s and massage therapists - often ask us about when and how to integrate guided imagery into their practice.
It’s a complicated but juicy question. Let me try to address a piece of this for starters, and if you’re interested, we can do more of this. (And if you don’t want to wait, there’s a pretty comprehensive chapter of Guided Imagery Wisdom and Tactics in Chapter 10 of Invisible Heroes.)
Well, it worked. Our full court press (digitally speaking) to get the word out about the value of guided imagery for traumatic stress seems to have taken on a life of its own. A lot of people began a new strategy last week, to help them cope with posttraumatic stress – not just manage PTSD but remediate it.
We couldn’t be tickled more pink.
Or perhaps, more properly said, we couldn’t be tickled pinker??
We couldn’t be more pinkly tickled?
Whatever. I digress.
The point is, we got hundreds of trauma
survivors checking in to see what kind of benefit guided imagery might
have to offer them – service personnel and veterans and their families;
kids suffering the traumatic loss of a parent; survivors of motor
vehicle accidents; people recovering from tornadoes, hurricanes and
earthquakes; people suffering the after-effects of domestic violence,
childhood sexual abuse and all manner of accidents and injuries… you get
National PTS Awareness Day is on June 27 – in fact, the whole month is dedicated to posttraumatic stress awareness.
We want to take advantage of the
occasion to draw attention to guided imagery as a powerful tool for coping
wth PTSD and general PTSD help, by alleviating symptoms and making
life way more livable for survivors of trauma.
There are no traffic lights on Martha’s Vineyard, so what keeps driving civil around here is a core road etiquette that’s subtly enforced with classic, small town tools of norm enforcement: the frown, the eyebrow lift, the pursed lip, the sardonic smirk and the occasional scold.
It usually takes a new vacationer about three days to get the hang of driving here. It’s one of the best demonstrations of the power of small town social sanctions and social control I’ve ever seen (and I grew up in a small town).
The actual rules aren’t half bad either – a nice metaphor on how to live. They result in a surprising amount of civility on an island where the population explodes from 15,000 people in winter to 115,000 in summer.
(And, just for the record, this place is not just for Chardonnay-sipping, effete, flush-pocketed blue bloods and preening celebrities; it’s loaded with multi-hued blue collar and middle class people, speaking Portugese and Canadian French and South Bostonese, too. And the blue bloods mostly drive beaters and take reverse pride in dressing shabbily. This is New England, after all.)
Here’s to all the fathers out there, juggling love and work, to do their best for their kids. Chances are, they’re more actively involved with their children’s lives than their own fathers were with theirs. Happy Father’s Day to all of them!
I was lucky enough to have a husband who changed diapers, walked and crooned his kids to sleep, and took them off my hands and out of the house when I had a big project or a dinner party to produce. (This, mind you, was in spite of the fact that he was born in 1938).
He was actively involved in their moral and academic education, engaged actively in parent meetings, pushed them when they were falling short, and showed them empathy and compassion when they needed it.
On what was supposed to be a fun, father-son road trip, he wound up rushing his eighth grader to a hospital in time to avert a terrible health disaster; and he saved our 6 year old from drowning when the kid fell off a pier, some distance away, unnoticed by everyone else, including me.
In combing over the feedback we get, it became clear very quickly that we get the most mail from grateful people who’ve used our sleep imagery. In fact, over the years, Healthful Sleep has bumped Weight Loss as our top selling guided imagery recording, whether that’s in tape, CD, download or app format.
One soldier, who had been able to use it to help him sleep downrange, and now that he’s home, for insomnia and fear of nightmares, expressed curiosity about why it worked so well for him.
I think the answer is two-fold. For the hyper-alert state that’s buzzing around in the primitive, survival-based structures of the brain, the nonverbal stuff – the soothing music and calming voice tone, not to mention the images of safety and support - signal that it’s okay to relax.
Lately I seem to be having a lot of conversations with friends about clearing out clutter. Must be spring! Or entry into a post-child
phase. Most people I talk to really want to do it. They feel oppressed by the stuff surrounding them. I think it actually creates a kind of constant, subliminal stress.
But they also feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the job. After years of inadvertent accumulation, let me tell you, it can be a pretty daunting prospect.
When I was getting ready to sell my big, old, Charles Addams-esque house in Cleveland Heights (designed for relentless entertaining from when my husband was a grad school dean), I was taken firmly in hand by my real estate agent and told that clean surfaces, open spaces and orderly closets would be the sine qua non of unloading that gigantic sucker.
Now, mind you, this was a huge house with lots of hidden spaces. You could stash something useless away (for later? forever? for what?) and forget you ever had it, because you’d never see it again. The living areas would still look pretty good. I had boxes on the third floor and in the basement that hadn’t been opened since our last move from Washington DC (where I had unopened boxes from the move before that from Watertown, MA...). You get the picture.