Changing problems with Imaginosis therapy 1
Imaginosis therapy

The man who couldn't go home - stage 1

<< Metaphor Therapy

Bob had a drink problem. He just could not leave the bar and go home when he was supposed to. He could not go home when he said he would because that meant he was being told what to do in his personal life, but he actually wanted to go home, and he dreaded the phone calls from his wife reminding him to get home on time because that made him even more anxious. The more anxious he got the more he drank and the easier it was to stay on and drink some more. Logically he knew what he should do, but his mind just wouldn't let him. This page is a transcript of the session to correct his problem drinking.


For the therapist, the questions in the Horse Exercise were designed to establish whether and to what extent Bob was able to visualise. Some people doing this exercise report that they are totally unable to visualise anything, some describe idiosyncratic responses such as seeing blotches of colour mixed with snatches of conversation. Most people (experience suggests about 95%) can visualise to some degree.

For the client, the questions of the Horse Exercise are designed to make them aware of the fact that they do have mental representations, and that these can be altered in various ways. For most clients this comes as a total surprise, and many report enjoying the exercises, a bit like lucid dreaming.





Settle back in the chair and close your eyes. I am going to ask you think about something and to tell me what comes to mind.


Just take a deep breath and hold it...and as you let it go.... allow yourself to relax.

Settle the client

That's right.... just relax.


Now take another deep breath.... and settle yourself comfortably.

Invoke a light trance via the parasympathetic response

Now... just tell me out loud what you are experiencing when I ask this question.


Can you imagine a horse?

Testing for visualisation ability - some people cannot visualise at all.



What colour is your horse?

Start exploring the submodalities



And does it have a mane, long hair on its neck?

Find out how 'real' the horse is

I don't see any. [Surprised]

Unusual, but confirms Bob is actually visualising a horse, rather than thinking about horses in general.

And does it have a tail?

establishing visualisation abilities.

Yes, of course there is a tail.

He is seeing a real horse, not a cartoon horse, or an abstract idea.

And what colour is the tail?


Black, the same as the rest of the horse, dark grey black.

Adds more attributes 'dark, grey', without prompting

And can you get that tail to move?

Testing whether his visualisation is static or Conscious

Move it? [Surprised]


Yes, can you get the tail to move, maybe side to side?


It's already moving side to side.

He is seeing a movie

Can you get it move up and down?

Test for ability to generate movement

Up and down? [thinks for a moment] Yes, it's going up down now.


Is your horse facing right or left, or is its head maybe looking towards you?


Down. Its head is facing down, hanging down

Most people see the head pointing to their left.

What is it standing on? The Horse?

Make him explore aspects of his visualisation

Um... that's funny... it's standing on grass... but there is nothing else there.... just grass..


So it's standing on grass, and there's nothing else there?

Clean language

No. Just the horse...and the grass... and everything else black.... just floating... funny.


And can you imagine that horse being a different colour? Can you image that horse being blue?

Testing for ability to alter the image. Some people are very literal, a horse cannot be blue.

[immediately] Yes

Very good colour sense

How about red?


[immediately] Yes


OK. Look around the horse. Look closely. Is there a fence there?

Testing suggestibility

Um... yeah... there is now.... It's white, rough... looks like it needs painting....

Highly suggestible

Good. Now, can you imagine that horse being twice as big as it is now?

Testing ability to alter images in various ways

Twice as big? Like a giant horse?


Yes, twice as big.


[Thinks about it] No, no I can't.

Odd, given his other abilities. Is inflexible about some things.

Can you imagine that horse being half the size?

Testing for shrinking, metaphorically this is very important.

[immediately] Yes. Half size. No problem.


How about much smaller? Can you imagine your being the size of a post card?


[immediately] Yes.


The size of a postage stamp?


[immediately] Yes.


OK. Can you imagine that horse making a noise?

Testing for auditory recall

Like a horse noise?




Sure, it's making horse noises. I can hear them.

Good auditory memory

Is there a smell?


Yes. Usual horse smells.

This guy grew up on a farm.

Now keeping your eyes closed... I would like you to point to where in space your horse is. Is it above or below eye level? To the right or left? Just point to it.

Testing for proprioception ability

[Points more or less straight ahead, a little below eye level] There, it's there.


OK. And how far away from you is it? It close or far away?

Testing for spatial ability

[Points to about knee distance]. There, just about there.


And can you get it to move towards you? Can you move the picture closer to you.

Testing for transformation ability

Sure, now it's here [points near chest]


And can you make it go further away?


[moves hand outwards] Yes, now it's over there.

Making sure.

Now, can you imagine a cat?

Second object



What colour is your cat?


[Surprised, and intrigued] It's a mixture of black and yellow sort of.


OK , and now point to where the cat is in space.

Exploring the 'mind space' between different imagined objects.

[Points down to the right] Down there.

Objects are in different places.

And is it nearer or further away than the horse?


Nearer, much nearer.


And is the cat the same scale as the horse, does it match the horse proportionally?

Testing to see if the things are connected

No, it's a cat. The full size near me.

The horse was less than life size.

And can you move the cat from where it is, to the left, high up say.

Testing object associations

[Thinks] Yes,.... it feels different. It wants to go back.

Excellent. Assigns feelings to images.

Think back to your horse. Can imagine a frame round it, like an oil painting? Like it is a picture hanging on a wall or something?

Test for novel abilities.

A frame. [Thinks] yeah. A frame.

Easily added non-congruent object

What colour is the frame?

Test his perceptions

Brown, you know.


Uhuh, and if you were to run your hand down that frame what would it feel like?

Testing for kinaesthetic abilities

Smooth. It is smooth.

'Is' smooth, not 'would be' smooth. He is experiencing the feeling

OK, that's very good. Thank you. Open your eyes and look at me.

Client is set up for the next exercise.



Bob actually exhibited superior visualisation abilities, and also reported auditory, olfactory and kinaesthetic abilities. However, he did report some restrictions on visualising freely in certain directions. The questions were designed to test these and other aspects of mental representation. Establishing his abilities is important because if a person has no ability in one or more of the critical aspects of mental representation then that aspect can not be used in Conscious Modelling.

Doing the exercise gives the client direct immediate experience of altering mental images. It seeds the idea that images can have things added, and that things can emerge spontaneously, and that this is a normal and natural process. Some of the questions relate to the location of objects in space and to the fact that images do actually occupy a position within a notional hemisphere centred on themselves. This aspect was not used in this case but for very kinaesthetic people it lets them imagine felt sensations being moved to somewhere else, usually out of their body and into the hemisphere where they can be dealt with.

The Horse Exercise sets up the client for the next stage in Conscious Modelling, the Personal Incident exercise.



Go to next hypnosis page Personal Incident exercise