When we use the word “imagery” we honor the definition put forth by one of our dearly missed mentors, Dr. Jeanne Achterberg, PhD, a leader in imagery exploration and application, who passed away in 2012. She stated it well by saying that when we refer to “imagery,” we mean
“the thought process that invokes the senses: vision, audition, smell, taste, the sense of movement, position, and touch. It is the communication mechanism between perception, emotion, and bodily change. A major cause of both health and sickness, the image is the world’s greatest healing resource. Imagery, or the stuff of the imagination, affects the body intimately on both seemingly mundane and profound levels” (Imagery and Healing: Shamanism and Modern Medicine, p. 3 – Jeanne Achterberg, 1985)This quote from C.G. Jung that speaks to the depth we refer to when we engage in imagery practices:
“Imagination is the active evocation of (inner) images secondum naturam, an authentic feat of thought or ideation, which does not spin aimless and groundless fantasies ‘into the blue’—does not, that is to say, just play with its objects, but tries to grasp the inner facts and portray them in images true to their nature. This activity is an opus, a work.” (Psychology and Alchemy, Collected Works, Vol. 12, p. 219)
Research and Clinical Uses
THE ART OF GUIDANCE
Fania Chazen, MSW, who practices in Israel, describes in Language as Opportunity, Words as Images what she is listening for in a client's narrative that signals the reason and opportunity to work with imagery.
"Imagery on the Sly and Golden Seeds" describes how Lee Raven, RN invites a person to look inside and experience the benefit of doing so.
Arleen Hollenhorst, RN, HN-BC, CEH, HSMI asserts in her article "Energetic Boundaries: Strategies for Lightening When We’re Feeling 'The Weight of the World' that self-care for caregivers is the key to avoiding burnout. Lee Raven, RN, HN-BC writes in Care for the Caregiverthat listening to 12 minutes of the CD "Care for the Journey" took her "from revved up and scattered to calm grounded and curious". She says that for any who are called to offer healing in any capacity, "Care for the Journey" is a blessing and a source of renewal.
Sharon O'Connor, RN in her article "Nocebo vs Placebo" says positive expectation should be a part of medical treatment. In her article "Wellness, Stress and the American Health Care System" she shows why Guided Imagery should also be part of healthcare reform.
Gerald Epstein, MD started his first column in ImagiNews titled Imagery and Illumination and recounts his spiritual experiences. He says "Imagination is the pathway to Illumination." Dr Gerald Epstein on Ritual In the podcast "How to Read Mental Images: Learning the Hieroglyphic Language of the Mind for Clinical Use" Gerald Epstein, MD explains the relationships between mental images and health from a western spiritual tradition. In the article "Never the Twain Shall Meet: Spirituality or Psychotherapy" he discusses why his practice in the healing arts began with training in psychiatry and turned to a practice in the Western spiritual tradition. In her article "Religious_Clients", Jann Fredrickson, LICSW says they may best understand Guided Imagery as prayer.
Popular Faculty Member, Past President and Imagery Person of the Year - Jann Fredrickson, LICSW - talks about advanced applications in which Guided Imagery is combined with "Thought Field Therapy, Story Telling, EMDR and Music". Patresa Rollinger, RN helps an elderly patient suffering with life long chronic pain "To Walk with Joy" using Guided Imagery and Jin Shin Jyutsu.
Dance Specialist Jeanne M. Schul, PHD, in her report Schul - New Mythos Preliminary Reporttitled The Feminine Divine: She Who Dances Us into Being, shows the connection between the images from the ancient goddess cultures and the human moving body of today’s modern dancer.
In her story about the Dream Catchers used by Native Americans, Judith Ewing, MEd, MA, CIHsays dream catchers or nets remind us of the importance of metaphors and visions from the world of dreams. Gerald Epstein, MD also talks about working with waking dreams in his podcast titled Dreams and Imagery.
Audio recordings are of two types - custom or general. Some general recordings like Successful Surgery created by Belleruth Naparstek have been studied in clinical trials, found significantly beneficial and are offered by some hospitals to patients. Lea Houston's Introduction to her CD "Relaxation Remedy for Pain Relief, Stress Reduction and Inner Replenishment" describes how to work with audio guidance. Most recommend not listening to audio recordings, intended to treat a problem, when driving or working. Music was used by the ancients to heal. Harpist Jeanne Martin, PhD in this podcast demonstrates how the harp is played and used in healing. --------
Quotations about Imagery
"Images can either imprison us or liberate us...." —Piero Ferrucci
"Imagination is the eye of the soul." —Joseph Joubert
"We are what we imagine ourselves to be." —Kurt Vonnegut
"What is now proved once imagined." —William Blake
"Your imagination practice is equivalent to an actual experience in so far as your nervous system is concerned." —Dr. Maxwell Maltz
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Imagery International, a non-profit 501(C)6, is committed to a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment where all board members, staff, volunteers and members feel respected and valued regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation or identity, disability, education, or any other bias.