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The National Council of Psychotherapists

Est. 1971



Visualisation is a term used to describe the making of images in the mind—imagination. It forms a large part of the “inner world “ of many people, and may create pleasure or problems depending whether the internal pictures are accurate up, to date, and helpful, or not.


Some people are aware of these internal pictures; others are not but nevertheless

they trigger thoughts and feelings that may be unrelated to the “real” world outside the mind.


Patricia demonstrated the effects of internal pictures when she consulted me for help with a fear of heights. She was a forty year old mother of three children who had been frightened of heights for as long as she could remember. Sometimes it was worse than others but over the last three years it had become much worse and was creating problems as she could not go above the second floor of a building if she could see outside.


In order to help Patricia I wanted to know about the process occurring in her mind just before the panic occurred.


I learnt a great deal about Patricia before I had even seen her. My consulting rooms

are in a courtyard in a small road in Putney. I gave her very explicit instructions how to find me but she got lost and rang on her mobile phone for assistance. When she got to my room she explained that she had passed the courtyard three times but “it was different from the courtyard I had imagined “so I didn’t see it.


I have a saying “The way you do anything is the way you do everything” so I believed that visualisation played a major role in Patricia’s life and may be involved in her fear of heights.


Using hypnosis I asked Patricia to go through the sequence leading up to the panic feeling when she looked out on a scene from a height. To her surprise she saw a movie picture of herselfjumping off the height to her death. This film was very vivid and occurred every time she looked from a height, whether it be a wall, mountain, or building.


The treatment I used was to help Patricia change this frightening internal film to one of safety. She asked “the projectionist” in her mind to stop playing the old film and play one that was calm, safe, appropriate, and secure, such as Patricia walking out on the balcony and feeling safe as she enjoyed the view.


I made a hypnotic tape for Patricia to play daily to reinforce the new message. We never did discover why she had created the frightening film, and indeed it was not necessary to do so.


After three sessions spaced two weeks apart Patricia told me with great joy that she had stayed on the tenth floor of a hotel where the room had a view of the atrium and she could look out without fear, something she had never done before.


Dr. Brian Roet (MNCP Hon.)


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