Why Does Using Imagery in Psychotherapy Lead to Change?

  • Donald Meichenbaum
Part of the Emotions, Personality, and Psychotherapy book series (EPPS)


Desensitization, emotive imagery, aversive images, implosive images, covert modeling, “depth” images, psychosynthesis, eidetic therapy, guided affective images... one could continue conservatively to index over 20 ways images have been used in psychotherapy. Success is claimed for each procedure. By now, you may be impressed, if not overwhelmed, by the plethora of imagery techniques used in psychotherapy. It is almost as if we had given psychotherapists a creativity task and asked them to answer the following item: “What are all of the unusual uses of imagery in psychotherapy?” Only the therapist’s imagination and degree of chutzpa seem to restrict what he asks his client to imagine under the so-called rationale of psychotherapy.* Assagioli (1965) asked patients to imagine that their bodies were being consumed in flames in order to experience a degree of freedom and a sense of “spiritual essence.” Luenar (1969) (see chap. 5) requested clients to imagine scenes involving meadows, mountains, and brooks. Wolpe (1958) had clients imagine phobic scenes along a graded hierarchy. In all of its varieties, imagery has been embraced as a psychotherapeutic tool with a fervor that bears critical evaluation.


Behavior Change Psychological Process Maladaptive Behavior Internal Dialogue Avoidanee Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald Meichenbaum
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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