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Posts Tagged ‘visualization’

So, if my postings have been a bit sporadic the past few months, it’s with good reason. Much to our surprise, after 8 years of unsuccessfully trying to add child #4 to our family, I seem to be very much pregnant (due in March if you’re curious).

What’s the connection between that and a flutter of anxiety? Imagine my surprise when, instead of feeling overjoyed with the discovery, I instead promptly had a massive panic attack.

Dr. Heitler, my office-mate (and yes, my mother) has a very helpful technique for figuring out what was going on that triggered that anxiety — and where my husband and I needed a pow-wow to get on with being excited about this new development.

Dr. Heitler posted a blog this week at PsychologyToday with a very nice description of the process I found so very helpful. The one sentence summary — trace back to find the “butterfly” thought that in some sub-conscious way, triggered the anxiety.

Curious what my “butterfly” was?    Seeing our camping gear ready for a weekend’s adventure “butterflied” me to concerns that a new baby would mean we would no longer be able to do this kind of family adventure. The solution — lots of fun ideas for how to tote a baby along on family outdoor adventures — and plans for leaving baby-to-be with the Grandparents as well!

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Visualization is one of the most underutilized rapid change tools in a psychologists toolbox.   While we can talk for hours about a challenge, sometimes it’s near impossible, at this cognitive level, to figure out exactly what ones internal dialogue is saying.

As I type this, I’m thinking, hmm . . . sounds pretty hokey for someone who is a hammer and nails, tools driven therapist.

That’s the key, guided visualized explorations are highly effective when they aren’t just a hokey “tap into yourself dude” or “hey lady chill out” experience.  When a therapist has a clear map of what they are helping the client to discover, visualizations can enable us all to connect quickly, and deeply, to underlying inner concerns.

A quick example.  One client healing from an affair, as much as she wanted to restore their marriage, just couldn’t get going again.  Using visualization she saw herself as an elegant crystal vase, shattered by the affair.  With guidance, she pictured the vase repaired, and discovered that it, the vase, really only felt whole when it was carefully filled with flowers each week.

“Ahh” the husband who was also in the session was able to chime in afterwords, “first, it’s so true.  You are a precious, one-of-a-kind vase.  You take the sunshine and spread it into rainbows around the whole house.  And, I was a complete bull-in-the-china shop.  At the same time, I can see, that perhaps I can help things now by finding all the different ways that I can put flowers back into that vase.  I’d really like to try that if it’s ok with you.”

Her response  — tears.    My response, well, let’s get to work and use our last ten minutes to figure out as many different kinds of “flowers” as we can!

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