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HannaRodBlog Apr 26, 2016

10 Minute "Impressionistic" Relaxation Script for Counselors

What is the Visual/Guided Imagery Technique?

There are several types of visual and guided imagery techniques including Mental Imagery, Coping Imagery, and Positive Imagery, to name a few (Erford, 2015, p. 75).   Each technique may be used to serve different purposes, but the most common use is to help clients decrease anxiety and stress. I wrote the following Positive Imagery script for my therapy group. Positive Imagery usually guides clients through a pleasant experience using scenery. However, in my exercise, instead of suggesting any specific scene or event, I used a more impressionistic approach by using questions that hint or suggest certain sensations. This allows the client to use interpret his experience in whatever way is meaningful for him. In the exercise, the counselor brings the attention to the client’s breathing while guiding his attention to each of the senses. This 10 minute exercise works great to help clients relax and as I like to say, “get present” at the beginning of sessions.

Where did the Visual/Guided Imagery Technique come from? 

According to Erford, (2015, p. 75), the use of visual imagery in therapy originated with Freud in the late 19th century. Freud used dream interpretation, which is similar to visual guided imagery techniques, to examine the content of dreams in order to explore unconscious processes.   Freud believed the content of dreams had symbolic meaning.  Later,  Robert Desoille introduced a similar technique which he called "active daydreaming" in the 1920's, where the therapist guides the patient as he engages his imagination in a state of relaxation.  Today,  various therapeutic approaches use visual imagery for many purposes. For example, CBT uses guided imagery to help clients explore and change their beliefs whereas Behaviorism uses imagery to help clients cope with stress.  


Erford, B. T. (2015). Visual/Guided Imagery. 40 Techniques Every Counselor Should Know (2nd ed.) Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.   


"Before we get started, I'd like to invite each of you to get comfortable. Feel free to move around the room, you may change the direction you are facing if that would help you to feel comfortable. You may choose to close your eyes, or keep them open and find a place in the room to focus, or focus on your image card. We are about to begin. Any questions?" 

-------------------------------------------  Pause. -------------------------------------------  

I invite you to begin by taking a deep breath, and close your eyes. Imagine you are in the most beautiful place in the world.  

-------------------------------------------  Pause. ------------------------------------------- 

As you continue to relax your body and take slow, deep breaths, see the vivid colors all around you and just take a moment to appreciate those colors. Do you see bright green grass, or tall trees? Do you see beautiful pinks, yellows, blues in the bright flowers? Look up to the sky. What colors do you see? Notice whether you see the sun or the moon. Is it a bright, sunny day or a cool evening with a vibrant sunset? Take it all in as you breathe. 

-------------------------------------------  Pause. ------------------------------------------- 

Take a moment to notice what is going on in your mind. Bring yourself back to the most beautiful place in the world. Notice what your body is doing, whether you choose to sit or stand, or take a little stroll in your mind. How does the ground feel underneath you? Maybe there is sand between your toes, or you feel the coolness of the forest floor. Perhaps you are wading into a pool of water. Take a moment to breathe.  

-------------------------------------------  Pause. ------------------------------------------- 

How does the air around you feel? Notice any warm or cool sensations, maybe the sun feels warm on your skin. Perhaps there's a gentle breeze. What else do you feel? 

-------------------------------------------  Pause. ------------------------------------------- 

What do you smell? Maybe you smell the saltiness of the ocean or perhaps you are walking through a field full of sweet aroma of flowers. Are you walking through the forest, musky, just after summer rain? Notice the pleasant aromas and breathe it in.  

-------------------------------------------  Pause. ------------------------------------------- 

Notice the sounds! Do you hear the birds singing and calling? Maybe you hear the roar of a waterfall in the distance. Do you hear the rustling of autumn leaves blowing about in the wind? Perhaps you hear the silence of winter as the snow crunches underfoot. What do you hear? Take a breath and soak it in.  

-------------------------------------------  Pause. ------------------------------------------- 

As you breathe, notice your surroundings. Where did you choose to bring yourself? In this last moment, experience the colors, the sensations, notice the sky above you, the smells and sounds. Allow yourself to take it in. Maybe the corners of your mouth turn slightly up in a smile as you enjoy your relaxed state.  

-------------------------------------------  Pause. ------------------------------------------- 

As you relax and breathe once more, think about this question: What sensations will you bring back with you as you come back to the present moment? You may begin to wiggle your fingers and toes as you calmly open your eyes and return to the group.  
Hanna Rodriguez is a counselor in training at McNeese State University, and is completing her internship at the McNeese Kay Dore Gambling Treatment Program in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She is interested in viewing mental health from a wellness perspective. Read more about Hanna at: 


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