Image Guidance is a counseling technique I developed which uses imagery to integrate the self through spiritual, emotional and physical healing; it is a powerful tool which helps clients access their own inner wisdom through their own unique images. Though it does not replace conventional medical and psychological interventions, Image Guidance allows clients to understand the roots of their issues and to find strategies for dealing with these issues in 1-2 sessions. I have used this process of imagery and healing for helping clients in the following ways: to understand the causes of illnesses, negative attitudes, addictions, and problematic behavior patterns; to prepare for difficult or unpleasant medical procedures, personal confrontations or challenging situations; to discern what is most life-giving when several choices present themselves; to live in harmony with situations which cannot be changed such as terminal illness, permanent disability, or irreversible loss; to understand and deepen relationships with God, self and others. The applications of this process are as varied as life itself. I have helped clients re-enter their dreams, return to specific moments in their childhoods, imagine a new future, reduce physical symptoms, and find the courage to deal with the challenges which present themselves.
The process involves the following steps:
* Allowing an image to surface which reflects the issue at hand. The Guide asks leading questions until the Seeker arrives at suitable means of "picturing" the presenting issue.
* Examining the context from which the image arises. Guide and Seeker converse about the presenting issue so that the Guide has a full understanding as to what the Seeker is dealing with and what he or she hopes to accomplish through Image Guidance.
* Emptying oneself through deep breathing and relaxation exercises so that one can attend to the image. The Guide leads the Seeker into a deep state of relaxation in which the Seeker focuses on the image alone.
* Encountering the image. The Guide gives verbal directions so that the Seeker can interact with the imagery according to his or her comfort level.
* Conversing with the image while sharing with the Guide what one has seen, heard and felt. The Seeker descends into the unconscious where he or she is open to the wisdom which surfaces.
* Returning to "ordinary consciousness." When the Seeker has received the desired wisdom, the Guide helps him or her make the return journey.
* Processing the experience. When the Seeker is re-oriented to the present moment, the Guide discusses the experience with him or her and helps evaluate all that has happened.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH IMAGE GUIDANCE
In addition to working extensively with private clients, I have presented my research in numerous settings across the country, providing training to the following organizations: The Illinois Nurses Association; National Association of Catholic Therapists; The Office of Ministry Formation, Archdiocese of Chicago; The Wellness Center, Arlington Heights; Spiritual Directors International (SDI); Resurrection Hospital (chaplains); American Association for the Study of Mental Imagery; Catholic Theological Union (CTU); Queens Retreat House, Saskatoon; Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago (LSTC); the Lesbian Cancer Project, Chicago; St. Scholastica Priory, Duluth; St. Xavier University, DePaul University, Columbia College etc.
I have published two books of mostly therapeutic case studies with Paulist Press: Image Guidance: a Tool for Spiritual Direction (1992) and Image Guidance and Healing (1994); my newest book, Mind-Shifting Imagery: Image Guidance for Life Coaches, provides brief, safe and effective guidelines for using imagery in coaching, spiritual direction, pastoral counseling and other forms of inner guidance.
"The symbols which emerge in her work resonate with those found in the spiritual classics, and they harmonize with the classical philosophies and theologies of the spiritual traditions. Add to these perspectives her own remarkable creativity and wisdom, and it is clear why she has been able to awaken in others the resources that guided imagery offers to those on the spiritual quest."
"Stewart's case material in Image Guidance and Healing provides an excellent embodiment of the image guidance process and helps the reader to appreciate the very real gift she brings to this endeavor."
"Elizabeth-Anne Stewart is an intuitive healer with an uncanny ability to help her clients express and transform their physical problems through imagery. Extending Jung's technique of the active imagination, a type of inner dialogue with spontaneous images, she illustrates how to evoke this healing fantasy in individuals with physiological conditions."
"What did image guidance do for me? It took my fears, gave them shape, and made it possible to face them. Image Guidance gave me a way to communicate and learn from the diabetes. It gave me the means to discover my true feelings about the disease and to work through all the anger and hurt. Finally, it showed me that my attitude was making it difficult to come to terms with the disease. Through Image Guidance, I found a way to live with the diabetes without setting myself against myself."
"Liz was able to guide me into what I can only describe as the depths of my soul --going beyond the dust that had lingered there so long and drawing into the light all the beauty, courage and love that had always been there and which I sorely missed. Through the process, I not only learned to trust in myself again, but I learned to trust in another."
"Mind-Shifting Imagery: Image Guidance for Life Coaches offers a wealth of information, research citations, transcripts from sessions, and clear distinctions on the variety of ways that imagery can be used in coaching without shifting into the world of psychotherapy or psychiatry. It presents descriptions of imagery from the world of art and literature, and then the world of imagery in our own minds. Imagery guidance often leads to breakthroughs and this book includes such use in personal guidance, relationship challenges and healing from trauma or grief or loss; it also includes ways for incorporating imagery in the corporate work place."
"As a coach, I often ask clients questions like, 'What does that look like?' or 'Can you imagine what life will be like when you reach this goal?' Using such visualization, I try to help clients get clarity on their current circumstances and their goals. I did not know that, in a way, I was doing image guidance. Nor have I had others so adeptly guide me through this process. I love how Liz followed my energy and challenged me to go deeper."
"Dr. Stewart's guided imagery book is a treasure for Life Coaches and anyone wishing to change their outcomes in life. Just as it has been said, 'change your thinking change your life' - change your images and you can change your life as well. I deeply appreciate Dr Stewart's wide range of examples from business to pain management to relationships and more, She wisely cautions to use this with knowledge and experience, I would recommend this book to therapists as well. Dr Stewart would make a great consultant to those stuck in their therapeutic work. Thank you for putting it all together for those of us working in the field of behavioral health,"
"This book arrived at the best possible time in my own personal life. Many weeks of rehab after an accident had left me a bit disorientated. As I read Mind-Shifting Imagery, I realized it is a tool to tend my own spirit. My unfamiliar sensitivity to otherwise manageable events became opportunities for conversation with these very reactions. What insights they are revealing to me!
As Dr. Stewart teaches Image Guidance for Life Coaches she stresses the importance of being able to use the tool in one's own life before using it with others. Practicing Image Guidance in one's own life will make one's relationship with others much more effective."
"Images flash through our minds all the time. Some positive, many not so much. Images shape our reactions to events, how we feel about ourselves, and limit our sense of our own potential. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart's Mind-Shifting Imagery offers a step-by-step guide for life coaches and therapists who wish to use imagery to help people liberate themselves, understand themselves better, and find more positive direction in their lives. Moreover, though the book was meant for use in a professional context, with a life coach or therapist as a guide, I found many of the guidelines very helpful for a nonprofessional, such as myself, in becoming aware of and sometimes altering or replacing images that shaped my outlook and led to unproductive reactions or habits. I am very grateful for her guidance. This is a timely book I would recommend to anyone who feels stuck in place in their lives."
"This is a very informative and educational book for life coaches. Dr. Stewart explains this valuable coaching tool clearly, and her examples reinforce the key points. Every life coach should have this book to enhance their effectiveness with their clients.
For spiritual directors, it also is an adjunct work to her prior books on Image Guidance lending additional knowledge to this important tool. "