Difficulties in making connections between the image and outer experience
I have already addressed the importance of helping clients make sense of their imagery from three perspectives i.e. personal, cultural and universal (see the detailed discussion in Chapter 7). Clients have varying degrees of success with linking the mental images to their own lived experience. But, in general, most will require the therapist to prompt and facilitate this meaning-making process until it becomes a more established part of their reflective processes. In order to do this, I will rely on a process of inquiry that adapts the set of basic questions given for the diagnostic procedures for the framing images.
However, there are other ways of supporting this linking process. Desoille (1966) suggests another type of interpretative strategy that relies on the embodied nature of mental imagery. He gets his patients to return to the feeling evoked by the image and make connections with where they have the same feelings in their everyday life. I have used this with some success when clients are not able to make sense of their image using the basic questions and verbal instructions described earlier. A very similar strategy to Desoille’s makes use of metaphoric linguistic expressions. Even though people might find it difficult to link an actual image to an area of experience, they will be used to thinking in metaphorical terms. An example of such a strategy would be helping a client whose path image takes the form of a steep hill. A simple question framed metaphorically - ‘Where are you experiencing life as an uphill struggle at the moment?’ - should be sufficient for the person to begin to make links between inner and outer experience.