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.