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Chroma assess how guided visualisation can enable clients to overcome mental and emotional challenges



Imagination may hold the key to improved quality of life as it can help alter perceptions of difficult issues in a positive way.

Chroma Dramatherapist and mindfulness practitioner Katy Weston implements guided visualisation into her sessions, in essentially the same way – allowing clients to ‘play’ in ways they may not be able to in everyday life, for instance, if they are cognitively and/or functionally impaired.

Katy finds cards with images help guide sessions, as she can determine which image resonates with a client that day, for example, a boat, tree or plane, and steer the session from there.

“I have a client who suffered a catastrophic brain injury. I use cards for guided visualisation in our sessions to determine if there is a story we can make up from it and discuss the image,” she says.

“For instance, if the client chooses ‘the sea’, I ask ‘Are we swimming? Are there dolphins?’ From there I will jump into the water and ask her if I can hold the client’s arm to imitate swimming (I will always ask a client so they know they have control of what is happening).

“Movement is encouraged during our sessions where possible, and from there, we can swim with dolphins and venture on a journey together.”

Guided visualisation follows the theory that ‘if you can see it, you can feel it’. It has the ability to transport the mind to the idea of alternate possibilities – where you can escape your own reality – even if it’s just for that moment.

With guided visualisation, it is possible to gain a new perspective on a particular issue, condition or life moment, which may be difficult to come to terms with.

Katy recalls a client in palliative care who described herself as ‘sitting in a waiting room merely waiting for death’.

Through guided visualisation, the client was able to draw the room, its windows, its doors, plants, reading material and so on.

Staff commented that following that session, the client was like a different person – approachable and talkative. She allowed people into her room to chat. Following the initial session, she continued to imagine doors and paint them.

In the client’s own words, she said she now ‘felt in control to make this experience different’. She felt empowered.

Guided visualisation, part of Chroma’s portfolio of arts therapies, allows people to explore issues in a safe way, which helps create an unconscious shift that can present the client with a different perception on an event and help them overcome the mental and emotional issues surrounding them.