Deep Imagination, Clinically Applied

What in the holy hell does that mean, I hear you ask? Allow me to explain . . .

I completed a wonderful, two-level certification course at John F. Kennedy University in 2017 facilitated by Leslie Davenport, MFT, called ‘Clinical Applications of Deep Imagination’.

The course included scripts and practice for guiding people into a calm, peaceful inner space of their own design, and then using that space as a ‘launchpad’ (if you will) for meeting inner guides, speaking with wounded inner children, and resolving conflict between distinct inner “parts” (which so often is the cause of, or is very much related to, our feeling of “stuckness” in a particular area in life). The course involved clinical and medical considerations and contraindications for the appropriateness of using these techniques, and I always apply (or don’t apply) these techniques accordingly.

These practices blend beautifully with an Internal Family Systems perspective, which I use very frequently in my practice. (Essentially, this is a theoretical orientation to individual and couple’s therapy, created by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., which involves coming to distinguish, understand and appreciate various inner “parts” and their needs, to put it simply.)

I love Leslie’s scripts, and I sometimes use them, and I sometimes go off of them, depending on the needs of the moment, and depending upon my relationship with the person I am guiding.

I know that “Deep Imagination” may sound really ‘woo-woo.’ That’s alright, as long as I impress upon the reader of my site, and upon any clients who may ever participate in this kind of guided process, the incredible power of the imagination. People are often surprised by being moved to tears and often experience profound transformations, just through one simple, introductory ‘Meet Your Inner Guide’ Deep Imagination exercise. Neither Leslie, nor I, make any claims as to the cosmology of the beings encountered in these inner realms. I only contend that people seem to receive the exact images they need at a given point in their life and that the wisdom that comes through does not seem to come from the conscious, egoic, rational, everyday mind or identity at all.

Many mystical and/or spiritual traditions contain some history, tradition, or set of practices for looking inward and receiving visions, messages or guidance. I do consider this work to touch the dimensions of the ‘sacred,’ especially since I am very careful to guide participants into their hearts, first and foremost, and to let the visions open up there. I also take measures to ensure emotional and psychological safety throughout these exercises (i.e., we can stop if it ever feels scary), and to ensure that we weave any and all insights gleaned into action steps and ongoing therapeutic work. My favorite thing about Deep Imagination practices in therapy is that they tend to guide participants towards their own wisdom and their own answers, which can be far more profound, transformative and empowering than having the therapist “feed” their own wisdom and/or answers, or apply band-aids in the form of platitudes.

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