Chapter 4. Guided Visual Imagery Copy

Nelson imagining himself in his grandmother's garden in Guatemala
Nelson imagining himself in his grandmother’s garden in Guatemala

“The next tool I’m going to show you is called ‘guided visual imagery,’ also known as the special place technique.”

“Hm I’m intrigued,” Nelson states.

“This one is not physical at all—it’s all mental,” you say as you tap on your head. “Our brains are powerful tools, and if we imagine something and really concentrate on it—let’s say, a place—it can feel like we’re actually there even though, in reality, we’re just sitting in our room.”

“Sounds like a superpower!” Nelson exclaims excitedly. He perks up, adjusting his posture in anticipation.

“It is your superpower because you’re the one in charge of it! And guided imagery helps all four corners of our CCT Square, which makes it especially useful.”

“Okay, how does it work?”

Nelson’s excitement is extremely contagious. “First, pick a place that makes you feel really, really calm, and happy.”

Nelson closes his eyes with a slim grin.

“And you don’t have to close your eyes if you don’t want. Either way is fine.”

Eyes still firmly shut, Nelson’s grin widens into a smile. “I’ll keep them closed.”

“Now, imagine that place, picture all the details. Create the scene in your mind. Slowly you’ll find yourself moving away from your thoughts and feelings, especially the anxious ones.”

Nelson’s lips twitch and he cracks one eye open. “Do I have to say which place it is?”

“You don’t have to say. Are you picturing that place in your mind?”

“I can’t really think of one,” Nelson responds, eyes still closed.

“Where is a place that you like going to that makes you feel good or safe? It can be your room, the park, a beach. It doesn’t even have to be real—it can be imaginary.”

Nelson doesn’t say anything. His eyelids squeeze even tighter as he racks his brain.

“Would you like some help to find a place?” you ask. “I have some ideas on how we can do that.”

“I got one!” Nelson suddenly exclaims as he pops his eyes wide open. “When we were back home, I liked to sit under this tree in my grandma’s garden. Can I imagine that tree?”

“That’s a perfect place,” you say with a smile. “Now close your eyes and try picturing that. Create an image in your mind.”

You close your own eyes and drop your voice to a hush. “What does the tree look like? Are you sitting under the tree?”

Nelson stirs in his seat and makes a little sound.

“Can you see it?”

“Yes,” he softly replies.

“How do you feel?” you ask as you open your eyes to focus on Nelson again. He breaks out into a smile as he remembers.

“Good, I love sitting there. My grandma’s awesome.”

“Do you feel calm?” you ask with a light chuckle. “At peace?”

“I do.”

“That’s the power of guided imagery,” you explain. “You can open your eyes now, Nelson. It’s all in your mind yet this special place changes your thoughts and feelings. Maybe your grandma’s tree can be your special place?”

“Huh, I never even thought about that before,” Nelson says as he shuts his eyes again and smiles. “It’s good to be there again.”