Being a Hero: Imagery with Children.
Imagine you are standing in a green meadow with the blue blue sky above you. Now turn around and see your horse. What does your horse look like? Does he have a name? Can you jump up and ride him or her?
In therapeutic sessions using Imagery with children – we set off on adventures to discover our inner hero. A hero that can tackle the monsters in our dreams (or under our bed) but also the monster who sits next to you at school and keeps telling you “you are weird”.
What’s exciting about this process is that you start the child off on their quest, guide them on the way but you don’t know what kind of hero will emerge. A young lady who was struggling with girl drama transferred herself into an eagle – one who was powerful and able to perceive clearly from great height. This simple perspective taking allowed her to feel strong and to have a more distant approach to the drama. Looking down, she learned to let things go, to realize that some of these girls were not good friends and to see in the distance a friendlier and more fun group to engage with.
Confidence and trust in your own coping skills can be eroded by anxiety and fear. A young boy who spent many hours awake at night worrying about school, but also about the monsters under his bed, went on many imaginary adventures. We tackled the monsters under the bed but also those beasts hiding in a cave and rescued prisoners from castles. He learned to be inventive, to be persistent in facing his fears and to take risks. He started sleeping better, taking risks in playing soccer and thus scoring some goals. He confronted his playground bully and challenged himself to harder math (in which he succeeded). The adventure went from him being “no good” to having hopes and dreaming about being either a professional football player or perhaps a poet.
Working with kids and imagery is always an invitation to play, to create. It is not always miraculous but it is always fun. Whether with eyes open or closed, whether with dragons or stepping into the shoes of your annoying brother, it facilitates children to rely on their inner creativity, their inner wisdom, and inner resources. And if we are really lucky we get to observe that it lights up the children from the inside and watch them step into the world with increasing self-confidence.
I am teaching a class about this at the School of Images: Imagery for parents