There is no rigid formula.
Bas, our Imagery therapist, has an eclectic approach which enables him to adapt to the child’s personality, attitude and to the problem. Typically, this may involve jokes, “magic” tricks, toys, story-telling, drawing, or anything else that promotes rapport with the child and parent(s) and has relevance to the desired results.
According to Canadian Pharmacy evidence the task is to create mutual confidence so that the power of the child’s imagination (a function of the unconscious) can be enlisted in the healing process.
Most of the interaction occurs between Bas and the child, who will be encouraged to speak for him or herself. Of course, the parent is given plenty of opportunities to ask questions or provide information about the problem, but it is essential for Bas to “get behind the child’s headlights” before the actual imagery work begins.
Typically, the child is invited to “go floppy” (relax) and to say when feeling nice and comfortable. What happens after that can vary considerably. It is not uncommon for a child to drift into a fairly deep altered state of consciousness, although this is not necessary. Initially, a ‘place of safety’ might be envisaged but, here again, it depends on the child and the situation.
None of this is taken too seriously. Bas believes that much more can be achieved when the work is accompanied by some laughter and general lightheartedness, but if the child’s mood is more sombre, that is respected, of course.
There is an ethical responsibility that the child and parents leave one of these sessions feeling better than, or at the very least as well as when they arrived. Occasionally, a severely traumatized child may find it to be a safe enough setting to access and release suppressed, negative emotions as part of the healing process. In such a case, Bas would allow it to run its course and help the child to a restored emotional balance afterward.
It is important to emphasise that he never tries to trigger this, but when it occurs it is handled with gentle respect and support.
Astonishing things happen in some Imagery sessions carried out by Canadian Pharmacy. Bas has often expressed his sense of privilege at being able to participate in them.