Imagery Training

This section introduces the client to the idea of imagery as a mental skill.

The practitioner’s role here is to explain how imagery will be incorporated in the client’s daily life to keep them motivated.

It is delivered in a collaborative and autonomous way, as before. If the client does not wish to conduct the imagery, their decision should be respected. However, it is the practitioner’s place to explore why the client does not wish to use imagery in case the client still feels ambivalent about change.

Begin by summarising the plan that the client has made, and guide them through imagining carrying the plan out, from the first steps they will take, how they will feel as they start succeeding, then looking further ahead to when they achieve their goal and how great they will feel then.You might call this image their private mini-movie or TV ad, showing them how and why they will achieve their goal.

Explain that imagery works best when practised frequently. Ask the client to suggest some everyday behaviours that would remind them to practise their imagery for a few moments several times a day. Examples could be hand-washing, pouring a glass of water, getting dressed, climbing stairs. To pair the image with the behaviour, ask the client to perform the behaviour (or a similar one) in the session and run through their goal imagery at the same time. Remember to ask them afterwards how it felt, and reassure them if necessary that it will get easier with practice to do both things at once.

The following dialogue shows how the conversation might proceed:

Interviewer: Was using imagery today helpful?

Client: Yeah, it was actually. I really enjoyed using it.

If the client feels that the imagery was not helpful, reassure them that that’s not a problem. For example:

Interviewer: Was using imagery today helpful?

Client: Honestly no not really.

Interviewer: That’s ok don’t worry. Imagery is like any other new skill that becomes stronger and more helpful over time. Do you think you would be willing to give it another go in your own time?

Client: Yeah, sure I guess I could try again.

Interviewer: Great! Imagery works best if you practice. The more you practice the better you will become on it and the more it can help you with your goals. When I say practicing I don’t mean that you have to sit down for hours imagining things. It only takes a few minutes and you can do it while you are doing other thing. Can you think of something you do quite often that might remind you to practice imagery?

Client: Um, maybe walking up stairs because I get quite breathless and I’m hoping I won’t any more if I can quit smoking

Interviewer: Yes that’s a great reminder! Would you mind practising some imagery while walking up stairs right now?

Client: Ok, I think I can do that. [climbing stairs]

Interviewer: Roll out that private movie you have created in your mind as vividly as you can… Go through all the steps you will take to work on your goal… Make use of the ideas you told me so that it really happens… Work around things that might get in the way…And then imagine how good it will feel to succeed.

Interviewer:How was that?

Ask the client if they would like to set reminders on their phone or in their diary, to practice imagery at key moments, for example when their is opportunity to do the behaviour or when there is risk of relapse. Encourage them to set the reminders right now.

Help the client install the Goal in Mind app or audio on their phone, and discuss ways they can use it to support their imagery practice