There is a close connection between our ability to imagine, and our emotions. This is why images from traumatic events can be so troubling.
In cognitive therapy, counselors frequently employ imagery techniques to help clients defuse troubling mental images and the difficult emotions tied to them.
Now, some Norwegian researchers have demonstrated that healthy people can learn imagery techniques and use them to enhance their everyday emotional well-being. However, “...this is a challenging task and requires a flexible approach,” said Dr. Svetla Velikova, of Smartbrain in Norway. “Each day we face different problems and a therapist teaches us how to identify topics and strategies for imagery exercises.”
To discover whether people can learn to improve their mental and emotional state with imagery techniques, Velikova and colleagues had 30 healthy volunteers attend a two-day imagery technique workshop. The participants learned how to manage difficult emotions from past situations via imagery transformation, how to implement positive imagery for goal achievement, and methods for improving daily emotional balance, and social interactions.
Following the initial two-day session, participants spent 12 weeks practicing the techniques at home for 15 to 20 minutes per day, and then attended a second two-day workshop.
Psychological testing before and after the study indicated signs of depression were decreased by using the imagery techniques, and “overall, volunteers were more satisfied with life and perceived themselves as more efficient,” says Velikova. The EEG data also showed significant brain activity changes that seem to account for less anxiety, depression, and a heightened satisfaction with life.
The research team points out that with minimal psychotherapist intervention, self-guided imagery techniques could become a cost-effective way to help people ward off depression, and counter the effects of difficult emotional situations.
Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Harold Navarro