Emotional Image Branch in Psychotherapy

World Journal «Psychotherapy» 2008, №1 (1), pp. 71—76

Linde Nikolay, Ph.D (Psychology), Professor of the Board of Psychology and Acmeology, Moscow State Humanitarian University, member of the Professional Psychotherapeutic League, Moscow, Russia. e-mail: nlinde@mail.ru

An article describes the author’s personal method of Emotional Image Therapy (EIT). General scheme of the work of solving psychological problems by means of this method is provided, as well as the list of possible spheres of application of this method are suggested. Practical examples are provided; the most interesting cases in dealing with images are described.

Key words: psychotherapy method, Emotional Image Therapy.

Method of Emotional Image Therapy (EIT) is being developed by the author since approximately 1990; first publication in 1994 being a manual “Meditative Psychology” [1]. Later the name of the method had been changed into the modern one, because it is closer to the essence of practical applications and theory, used in the framework of this therapeutic modality.

Emotional Image Therapy outcomes from the complex of theoretical statements and psychotherapy devices, part of which make it closer with other modalities (gestalt therapy, symbol drama, etc.). Together, these theories and methods make up an entire and separate area, having its own advantages and new possibilities. EIT uses an original scheme of creating subjective images of emotional states, actually experienced by the individual, based first of all on psychological expressions of these states. Further there is analysis of the clients’ problem using the given image. And then work is conducted according to the mental influences on the image with the goal of transforming negative into positive emotions which allows resolving an internal conflict. The resolution of the internal conflict brings an issue to the external conflict, behavioral changes, as well as mental state of the client.

EIT method combines advantages of subtle analytical methods allowing determining quickly and accurately the true reasons of undesireable symptoms with the possibility of effective treatment thanks to influencing the causes by working with those images. Therefore, the EIT is not symptom, but casual therapy, the therapist goes after the causes and gives an accurate psychological diagnosis, that will allow him to apply accurate and dosed influences on the images and through it on the emotional state, blocking adequate issue of the problem. The analysis is of deep personality conflicts in the given technique usually is done successfully, easy and quickly, thought influences on the image allows to double-check and verify the primary hypothesis.

Even S. Freud mentioned that the dream analysis is the “tsars’ way” to psychoanalysis. In this instance emerging images are spontaneously used to represent a visual form of concrete emotions. Therefore this image immediately shows the causes of these emotions and can serve as a means to influence it. The theory of EIT confirms that namely several chronic emotional states support the discussed problem that is why correction of this experience through the work with images, makes it possible to resolve the problem as a system of adaptation devices in general.

Example 1. During the workshop a psychologist asked me to help her to get rid of claustrophobia. “It is not that bad, but there are no doors in my apartment”. The problem occurred after the child’s birth. Baby had been frequently sick during the first year of life. I suggested to her to imagine herself being locked in some closed area, e.g. a room and to describe her feelings. She responded that even now, while imagining, she felt agitated with her hands shaking and tachycardia symptoms evident. It was hard for her to remain in such condition. Then I’ve suggested to her to imagine the image of this feeling located right in front of her. Promptly she said that it was a small drumming hedgehog. It might sound ridiculous- how come claustrophobia might be a small hedgehog with a drum? Although, hedgehog is always an image of a male, and a small hedgehog is a boy. I’ve asked her: “You have a son, don’t you?” The answer was yes. It became obvious to me that her maternal anxiousness for her sickly child had been the reason of claustrophobia, where she was unable to control situation. “A drum” – it’s her heart, which is anxious for the “hedgehog” being the reason of tachycardia.

I’ve suggested to her: “In your thoughts, could you tell the hedgehog that you allow it to be healthy and independent and not to look for your support”. She repeated it several times, feeling great relieve. Pretty soon she was able to imagine that the hedgehog left his drumsticks, and went to another room to play with its toys there… Her tachycardia had quit, her hands stopped trembling. Checkout by imagining herself in the closed area showed absolute tranquility, no signs of claustrophobia. The next day she had confirmed the result.

Comments. This example shows how easily the reason of phobia might be determined by this method. This is being proved by the simplicity of solving the problem. As physicians say:” Bene diagnostics- bene medebitur”. That was EIT approach to this case. If it were symptomatic therapy approach, the patient would be recommended relaxation, or even worse, the she might be suggested using sedatives. It would be useless, as both recommendations didn’t interact with the reason of phobia.

Mental influence of the client on his/her personal subjective images coincides with the desired and psychologically adequate solution of the internal problem, for which the devices of EIT are used (there are more than 30 of them, the list is being expanded). These devices are suggested by the therapist to the client sometimes being explained, sometimes not. But they are useful only in the case when the structure of the internal conflict is absolutely clear to the therapist. This method, if sincerely fulfilled by the client, solves the conflict entirely.

In the group work using EIT method, as well as in individual work, both the widely known and new exercises are used for producing and further analysis of the images (about 40 original exercises). E.g., the group members were recommended to listen to sounds of their bodies, to imagine how the water flows through it, to see the sense of their lives and to get united with it, to make a flight to oneself, to return the feelings lost, to enter the circle of happiness, etc.

All mentioned above gives an opportunity to say that EIT method is an independent device of therapeutic work, although the interpretation of images frequently coincides with the frames of classical therapeutic theories. EIT method uses the notions and logics of individual psychology of A. Adler, analytical psychology of K. Young, theories of V. Raykh, transactional analysis of E. Burne, gestalt therapy of F. Pearls, and other concepts. This means EIT method allows to combine in one multimodal system of different and even self exclusive theoretical models by using of one or another model, sometimes both simultaneously, depending of the nature of the internal conflict, expressed in the images of emotional conditions.

EIT method might be used for solving wide scope of therapeutic problems. It is broadly used for corrections of different types of psychosomatic problems (e.g. headaches, heart and muscular pains, allergies [9], neurodermitises, etc.), phobias, different emotional problems, obsessions, lallatations, anaclisises, posttraumatic conditions, problems of grief and losses, character’s corrections.

It is successfully used in helpline [16]. The method helps to cope with the problem of helpline professionals’ occupational fading. It opens wide scope of opportunities on correction of children’s psychological problems, when the work is preceded not with the child itself, but with the parent. Solving parent’s problem automatically causes correction of kid’s problem [18]. This method can not be recommended for using with psychotic patients, although there are attempts to use it in such cases.

An accent of this style is alteration of psychological state of the client right now and here, in real time. Of course, such quick results might be obtained only when the method, used by the client, really relives him/her of primary emotional stagnation and is used sincerely and in full range. Please find two examples, illustrating the idea, as well as emotional image therapy style in general.

Example 2. On one of the workshops I’ve suggested to the students to monitor the way I was working. A student asked me to help her solving her psychosomatic problem. She felt constant severe back pain, which caused sleeping problems. Medicals were unable to help her.

I’ve suggested to her to imagine the image of this pain. She saw it as a huge spider, sitting on her back. As far as spider is normally a symbol of a male, I had made a guess, that she might have some serious problem with a man. It turned that her boyfriend was a drug addict, and she was doing her best to safe him from this addiction. She is making attempts to separate from him, but fails. We had tried different maneuvers for her to get rid of the spider, but nothing worked to relieve her from this anaclisis.

She realized that she would be unable to safe the boyfriend him anyhow, and that she was sacrificing her health and her future, but somehow she “couldn’t” let him go. Then I’ve suggested to her to answer in the name of this spider “Whether he needed to be saved and to be pulled somewhere on somebody’s back?” Answering to this question, the girl realized that he actually didn’t need it. Immediately she was able to relieve the spider, it disappeared. The pain resolved immediately that same moment. That night she quit with the addicted boyfriend. Some time later she had met another man, got married, gave birth to a child and was happy. She never again have been suffering (at least for the past 4 years) from back pain. She told me this story four years after the session, when I completely forgot about it.

Comments. It is obvious, that the student couldn’t separate from her boyfriend due to false understanding of obligation; she had been waiting for a miracle, and afraid of being responsible for his failure. That was the reason of why she didn’t use the suggested devices sincerely. After talking in the name of “a spider”, she realized, that he didn’t deed to be rescued, and his future downfall was predetermined by his own wish, and she couldn’t be responsible for it. She realized that she was carrying him on her back against his will. This direct recognition, which couldn’t be achieved by any therapist’s arguments, allowed her to let this person go and stop stretching her back for his rescue. That is why her back pain had stopped immediately and she never had felt it again. She managed to quit with her boyfriend, and get rid of emotional addiction and false obligations.

A lot of examples might be suggested, we would like to show just one more.

Example 3. A forth year student told that she was feeling an urge demand to quit studying. She fetches any reason not to attend classes, but she can’t realize why this happens. Meantime she wants to get higher education, and she likes her major. I’ve suggested to her to imagine the power which stops her from studying. “Power” told her that it was “possible to live without higher education…” I’ve asked her whether anybody told her this in her childhood. She recollected that her grandmother used to tell her that she didn’t graduate from the university, as she had quit after the forth year. She thought it was possible to leave without higher education. Grandmother had had three kids, two of them quit studying, and the third one never even tried to enter a university…

I’ve suggested to the student to imagine her granny and to tell her: ‘Grandmother, I’ve graduated from the university, I am good specialist, and I am happy”. She did what I’ve told her and “saw” her grandmother being very angry, and herself feeling guilty. This feeling “stacked” in the diaphragm area and made it difficult for her to breath. “O, my God! It’s my asthma!”- She said.

I’ve suggested to her to dismiss her feeling of gilt (the device of getting rid of emotions with the help of fake sound). On doing it she started breathing with her full lungs, as she never managed to do before. ”I just enjoy breathing!” she said. I’ve asked her to repeat the same words to her grandmother. She did and said that grandmother was angry again… But the student didn’t feel herself guilty, she didn’t care: ‘It’s her problem now, if she wants to be angry, she can be!”

The girl kept studying and graduated successfully. Several times she told me how freely she breathed and how happy she was to do that.

Comments. It’s clear that in this case we face parent’s instruction “don’t be success” (E.Burne), which the student had got from her grandmother. The girl had been experiencing the false feeling of guilt for her desire to be success and to “overstep” grandmother. This feeling blocked not only her desire to get higher education, but also her open breath, being universal restriction for her activity. Escape from her quilt, made her free of the previously adopted instruction, so she managed both to breath and to study. All this had happened at the moment of total escape from the sense of quilt, which makes us to think that so called parents’ instructions are being kept in child’s psychics only due to the permanent emotional restraint.

Now let’s get back to the main theoretical postulate of EIT. It presumes that the reason of any psychological problem is some basic emotional restraint on some desire, or on some false obstacle, which hinders its achievement (see more in [10]). That is why all the work performed in EIT is aimed on the search of this restraint and escape of it by different actions with image of the emotion, restraining the problem. Escape of the restraint immediately releases the subject and it becomes evident in his psychosomatic state.

All known therapeutic theories differ from each other primarily in nominating different reasons of emotional restraint (traumas, sexual desires, inferiority complex, parents’ instructions, et. al.)

Therapeutic Activity Scheme

1. Clinical counseling. As well as in the other trends of therapy, before the work on changing the condition starts, the therapist gets acquainted with the patient, clarifies the problem, gets the history and ties up a contract. All these principles are well known and described in literature. The outcome of counseling should be clear definition of some notional symptom: feeling or condition, which the client treats as unwanted, causing him sufferings. The problem situation, inside of which this symptom occurs, is also determined during the first session. In the further process the therapist might get back to the counseling, if some circumstances or desires of the client become unclear.

Already on this stage the therapist should get the primary speculation of the structure of the problem i.e. of impulses, which should be realized, and of preventing obstacles. Those who study the method should get acquainted with different models, which explain the nature of the problems from the standpoint of one or another concept, and with the methods, revealing the real nature causing negative psychological symptoms. They are taught “to read” the images produced by the client. If they fail to interpret them, they should be aware of methods, which will decipher the image.

2. Clarification of the symptom. First, on this stage symptom should be clear and its psychosomatic manifestations are being evident. It means that if the feeling is not realized by the client, the therapist enforces it, makes it obvious, and determines its nuances. In such cases the client is suggested to imagine the situation in which he/she normally feels unwished symptoms. Second, it should be clarified how this feeling or state is expressed somatically (where and how). Third, the relationship between certain situation and psychological manifestation of the symptom must be established. This stage is based on the theory that every feeling exists in the body, not in the air, and that psychosomatic expression of the feeling better reveals its nature, than just verbal notion. E.g., a client might say that he/she feels fear, but the psychological expression might reveal anger, as it locates in diaphragm and is being felt as severe tension. In this case it is worse while to know possible localization of feelings by Raykh.

If the feeling is poorly recognized by the client, he/she might be recommended to imagine the situation, in which this feeling is being experienced. This makes him/her experience the basic situation pretty clearly. But one should remember, that some past situations might be shocking for an individual, because a deaden feeling becomes vivid again, and he/she fails to cope with the situation. There are several devices which help to cool the passions, and meantime not to suppress the basic condition to be able to work with it. For instance, dissociation method might be used (it’s when the client is suggested to tell what is being happen to him/her as if he/she might be outfacing himself/herself).

The necessity of determining psychological correlations of the feelings is based on different reasons. When the individual describes where in the body and how he/she feels, he/she gets better understanding of it. He/she starts to understand that the feeling exists in his/her body and nowhere else. Besides, on describing feelings, client uses the terms “ like squeezed by screws”, “as if burning nail is stacked”, “ as if I am being cut with sharp knife”, “ a clot prevents me from breezing”, “ it’s a fog in front of my eyes”, “ a wall doesn’t let me”, “ I feel disgusting as if I am a pile of mud”, etc. This is how client eventually comes up to the next stage.

3. Composition of the image. Now the client is suggested to imagine the feeling (the symptom) in the shape of an image, located on the chair in front of him/her or just in the air (sometimes it might be different location of the image: inside the body or around it).

It seems that this device of transition from psychosomatically expressed feeling to the image itself seems something fantastic and impossible. But it is the most important innovation of EIT method. Client is recommended not to think thoroughly: “the first thing which came to your mind is good…” This instruction works for appearance of spontaneous, the unconsciously made images, which are really informative from the standpoint of the analysis of the problem and its correction. If the client spends time for thinking, it becomes suspicious that he/she is suppressing the primarily gotten image and is trying to make up something “better.” In this case the image might be false and expressing the reluctance to get therapy. But this also might be used to reveal the truth. As soon as we understand the reason of the defense, we could reveal the issue which is defending itself from recognition.

Normally, the visual image is used, but sometimes the audio-, kinesthetic, or osphoretic sources also might be used. Some clients feel difficulties on producing the images, these usually being a sign of impedance in realization of one’s problems. Or the tension and lack of full trust to the therapist. Also, it might be based on the thesis that a person might to think only in terms of formal logic.

With such clients the preliminary relaxation training might be useful. Or they might be suggested to express their feeling in drawing, which sometimes sounds easier for them. With some of the clients it’s worse while to discuss the issues of their worries and the issue of trust to psychotherapist, the others need, like in psychoanalysis, their personal resistance to be clarified.

4. Restraint check-up. Under the term “Restraint” we mean emotional-energetic connection between the image and the state of the subject. If this connection really exists, then the changes in the image might bring to the changes in the client’s condition (e.g. enlargement of the size of the image might call the enforcement of the negative condition and vice versa).

In most cases such check -up is not needed, we rarely use it, but sometimes it gives an opportunity to better determine the problem. For instance, the client had been complaining that she was feeling fear in new companies. These fear looked like a disgusting toad. The toad itself didn’t call up severe emotions. I’ve recommended her to enlarge the toad in its size. Finally, the toad became huge, put one paw on the client’s throat and started to strangulate her. The client felt unconscious. Later it was clarified that it had been connected with her past conflict with her father, when he tried to strangulate her being in fury.

5. Research of the image. The image is should be investigated from the standpoint of feeling characteristics (size, form, color, etc.), from the standpoint of functions (what does it do for the client), and from the standpoint of the attitude (what is the subject’s attitude to the image and vice versa).

The image itself contains tremendous amount of information, which the therapist is supposed to know how to read. On this stage therapeutic hypothesis might be crucially revised.

Not all of the images might be directly deciphered, in correlation with the real knowledge about the client’s problem and the circumstances of his/her life it is not that difficult to understand its meaning. There are famous psychoanalytical interpretations, e.g., a snake is a symbol of penis. Also, one can find useful information in the Leyner’s imaginative therapy. But, the author also managed to add to the list some “deciphered” images. E.g., image of the rock always presumes an authoritative parent; images of emptiness presumes suppressed feelings; image of the dirt means prohibited feelings; clouds and fog – unshed tears; needles mean critics or self critics, etc. A short list of images and its interpretations one can find in [10].

But the most important is the dialog with the image, when a client mentally is asking it questions (tipped by the therapist), and answers in behalf of it, as if the image exists in reality like a fairy tale personage. Sometimes the client switches the places with the image and becomes it, talking in its name. All this is being possible because the image symbolizes some certain part of the clients’ personality. The client is definitely aware if it, but he/she doesn’t realize and investigate it. Sometimes even two or more images exist simultaneously, and the analysis switches from one to another, when it becomes needed from the standpoint of the leading hypothesis. It might last until the hypothesis becomes confidence and the therapist brings the client to actual awareness of the basic emotional conflict. At this moment the therapist realizes what therapeutic device he/she might use in order to help the client to solve the basic conflict.

On this stage the analytical part of the EIT work is finished, but it is presumed that the therapist might get back to it if needed.

6. Transformation. Here one or more devices of transformation of the image might be used (see more in [10]. The most frequently used are: mental actions with the image, communication or expression of the feelings, counterwork with double image, paradox resolution, conversion of the energy, etc. (see below). Transformation is always used in accordance with the structure of the psychological problem, in view of ecological clearance of the result. The goal of transformation is to change emotional condition, which causes the problem, and not just compose new images. Mechanical changes of images will not be success.

7. Integration of the image and personality (identification).This method is also the original innovation of EIT. If the desired condition of the subject is obtained, it is needed for this subject to anticipate the gotten positive image into his/her body and to integrate with it. Or the client might establish any other type of positive relationships. E.g., if in the course of therapy the client’s image of him/herself changed from a small and humiliated one into a strong and self-confident person full of energy, the client is suggested to switch a chair and become that strong and self-confident person, i.e. to identify him/herself with the image.

This stage gives us opportunity to make positive condition stable and adopted by the individual him/herself. It’s our body which contains our emotional condition, and adoption of the image in one’s body helps the client to better feel his/her new condition and to get used to it. In some cases the client refuses to adopt the changed image, this might be the reason for further investigation of his/her psychological problems.

But it should be mentioned, that one should not mechanically implement new images into the body. Some naïve students, who had heard something about the method, tried to adopt the image of Mercedes into their bodies! It is obvious that the person should adopt the feeling, symbolized by image, but not the image itself.

8. Situational check-up. If the subject would imagine the situation which had caused negative condition, and this condition would not show up again, this might be the criteria of transformation success. In practice, the check- up reveals that this imaginative check- up is fully identical to the real situations. What happens in imagination happens in real life. In rare cases, when the individual solves the problem in his imagination, but fails to do it in reality, it turns out that he/she is lying to him/herself and to the therapist, or that there are additional reasons to suffer. This needs for him/her additional work.

The client might also be recommended to imagine some future situations, and their success due to the obtained condition. This will work both as a means of follow up, and as a device of spreading the achievements of the therapeutic séance in the real life of the person.

The main goal is to realize how sincere and serious the client is accepting the changes. Some of them say that they had achieved the most desirable condition and would never let it go. Some just pretend to agree. Those results would not be stable. It should be determined what the client is not happy with, and the negative results corrected.

9. Ecological check up. Negative side effects should be ruled out. If no side effects, the result should be anchored. The client should be asked whether he/she were not against the achieved changes, does he/she feels uncomfortable, etc.

10. Confirmation. The subject is suggested to put an internal anchor, i.e. to make a deal with the achieved condition. The therapist should ask: “Do you agree with the changes which had been achieved?” If the client agrees, the second question would be “Would you like to keep these changes forever?” If the client is fully satisfied with the changes, one must be sure that these changes will last in future. If the work is supposed to be continued, the achieved results would become the basis for the future changes.

In practice, if the case is evident, some of these stages could be avoided.

EIT has its benefits, which provide positive results in a short timeframe. Therapeutic process looks like a logical consequent series of questions, focused on the image. The client answers on behalf of this image. The metaphysics of the actions is produced simultaneously, same with additional images, etc. If needed, the therapist analyses the real life situations, which had caused the initial conflict and recommends making some additional images, etc.

The main thing is that the work with image gives an opportunity not only to realize something, but also to change “it”.

1. Feeling related to the problem situation exactly reflects restrained emotional energy, which somehow can’t be implemented.

2. Feeling, being expressed somatically is the most reliable source of the essence of the problem. Words may lie, but not body.

3. Going through the problem via images is more reliable to the client, than verbalization of it. Insight can be achieved much easier with the help of images. Unexpected image changes due to some actions are very powerful validation.

4. Projection of the image on the chair or just in the space provides dissociation of the subject and the feeling, expressed in the image. This makes transformation work easier.

5. Image expression of the feeling makes its status of something existing in reality. Client feels an urge need of doing something with it, to overwhelm an influence of this really active factor. Otherwise he/she feels that “it” would keep haunting, these being strong motivating factor.

6. Image gives a lot of additional information about the nature of the problem, which might be creatively used by psychotherapist. Having some practical skills, psychotherapist manages to immediately realize the true notion of the images, which help him/her tremendously in working with them.

7. Notional images exactly correlate with unconscious processes, subjective influence on the images being directly reflected on the content of unconscious.

8. Variety of methods used in working with images gives a therapist wide scope of deviations of primary condition. Original innovations in this sphere make it possible for quick and effective changes.

9. Dynamics of the image changes during the séances, as well as changes in the correlated emotional conditions, gives an opportunity to provide control of the results. Therapist has an opportunity to supervise the process until quality changes of condition are obtained and a problem is being successfully solved.

10. Somatising of the positive images gives opportunity to anchor the results. Thus, a client is being identified with positive condition.

11. A result of the therapy becomes visual immediately during the séance, if a client uses the right device of impact on the image.

12. Positive transformations are always reflected on the psychosomatic condition of the client, this being the demonstration of success.

Transformation devices of emotional condition with working on images.

There are a lot of therapeutic devices used for transformation of images and basic problem conditions, the new ones being created constantly.

Find the list of the more frequently used ones

1. Meditation. A client is recommended to concentrate on the negative parts of the images (visual, acoustic, kinesthetic, or osmotic). As a result, an image transforms by itself, with this transformation the negative emotional condition vanishing as well.

This device is used for correction of simple psychosomatic symptoms. E.g., a client is suggested to smell how the heart pain smells. As a result, the imagined smell evaporates, and the pain dissolves in 3—5 minutes. This device is used for getting rid of pains, tachycardia, spasms, etc.

2. Mental actions with images. An image, symbolizing some feeling might be presented to somebody, or gotten from somebody; a knot might be untangled, etc. First of all the notion of the image is crucial: a loaf of bread might be baked and eaten, or it might be thrown in somebody’s face.

3. Expression of feelings. A feeling might be expressed by a sound, flow of energy, or verbally… While expressing the feeling, an image would dissolve. This is how directed and controlled catharsis is provided.

4. Paradox resolution. During the analysis of the internal notion of the image it becomes clear what restrictions it is importing on the personality. A client is suggested to permit the image doing the same things to him/her. E.g., a client feels oneself imprisoned. He is recommended to give freedom to the prison… As a result, a prison disappears, and a client understands that he/she is free. He/she realizes that it was he/she keeping oneself in the psychological prison…

5. To play with dirt. This is devise used in dealing with denied feelings, which are normally expressed by the image of dirt. A client is suggested to put his/her hands into this “dirt” and to play with it as a child does. As a result dirt transforms into a personality’s positive resource.

6. Denial of incorrect actions. If the analysis reveals, that an image symbolizes a valuable part of the client’s personality, which is being suppressed and denied by the client, then he/she is recommended to tell this image that he/she would never do that again. Positive changes of the image and psychosomatic changes in patient’s condition confirm psychological actions.

7. Energizing of the image. A client is suggested to give a lot of mental energy to image, which would encourage its growth and development. It is crucial when an image symbolizes child’s onset of the client.

8. To return harm. This device is very helpful in working with rape victims, terrorist acts, any other harassment or violence. A client is recommended to imagine where in the body he is keeping the image of the harm. After it he/she is suggested to return it to the violator being polite and even thankful. The goal is to help the victim to stop identifying him/her-self with the caused harassment, which would lead to a quick rehabilitation.

9. Redistribution of the shares. The goal of this method is harmonization of the relationships and unification of contradictions. By forwarding the “shares”, it is possible to reconstruct the balance between dependable parts of personality (child and parent, etc.).

10. Energy conversion. Energy of the negative image, e.g. client’s anger or defense might be transformed into a positive form, which would feed the weak part of the personality, needing this defense. A mature part of personality does not need any defense mechanisms, as it solves the problems by itself.

11. Paradox intention method. This method had been initially invented by W. Frankl for correction of phobias or fixed states. The idea of it is that client is supposed to feel what he is afraid of. In EIT it means that client is suggested to touch the frightening image or to ask it to enforce its influence (e.g., “scream louder!”).

12. Method of contra-instruction. It is used in the cases when client had got a negative instruction from his parents. Client is suggested to imagine the parent or substitution image and to tell him/her something absolutely controversial to the gotten instruction. This is supposed to be repeated until a negative impact would not stop. Or the emotional reason for it would be revealed, which anchors instruction. After these additional devices are supposed be used (see example 3).

As it was already mentioned, there are no less than 30 different devises which are being used in EIT, but it is worse while to get acquainted with them in [1—20].

Differences of the other therapeutic trends

Close to EIT are symbol drama and gestalt therapy. Listed below are basic differences of these methods.

The difference between gestalt therapy and EIT is:

1. Gestalt therapy is focused mainly on the process of perception, and in this it is similar to psychoanalysis. The main goal of EIT is the change in the emotional condition, which determines the problem. From this standpoint, EIT is a psychodynamic therapy, using notions of classical psychoanalysis, A. Adler’s individual psychology, somatic therapy by W.Reich, transaction analysis by E.Burne and other concepts, even transpersonal ones, but the main theoretic idea being the basis of any problem are different “entrapped” emotional impulses.

2. The goal of gestalt therapy is to put a client at a stand, in order to make him/her make a breakthrough. EIT therapy believes that individual mostly makes harm to oneself, and that is why he/she would insist on the wrong solution. During discussion in EIT style we suggest some unknown to him/her philosophic principles, and push him/her to the right decision. In gestalt therapy it seems that it is unknown which decision is right, the choice being always done by client. In our paradigm the client’s freedom is also respected, but we have the right to lead him/her and to suggest solutions.

If the client is not happy with what he/she had changed in himself/herself according to our recommendations, he/she always has a right to get back to the previous way of life. We are looking not only for understanding, but for actual changes of the client. When he/she “tries” new condition, he/she can make his/her mind of what amendments should be made, or even to decide to get back to the old way of life. But usually the answer is obvious, because not to be afraid is much better than to be afraid, and to be kind is better than to be angry, etc.

3. Therapy in EIT is clearly divided into analytical and transformational, although in some cases transformation is needed for revealing the real reasons causing the problem. Often, transformation in EIT occurs without client’s recognition of what being a real source of the problem and what solutions might be gained. From this standpoint EIT is more directive method, then gestalt, but more soft as it gives better support and aims client directly to the goal.

4. In EIT it is used to make a contract with a client about the changes he/she would like to achieve, therapist making sure that the contract would be clear and realistic, as well as ecologically adequate. Result of the therapy is controlled by imagined critical situation and anchored by different devices. In gestalt therapy therapist’s position is – a client gets whatever he/she can get and wants to get, with therapist being not interested in the certain result. Result is not being checked in the imagined critical situation. In EIT a therapist is “fighting until the victory”, until the success at least on any intermediate stage, which usually is discussed with the client.

5. EIT stands on the position that emotions are psychological energetic processes. The goal of a therapist is not always release of the suppressed impulses, but more often reimbursement of wasted energy in the general energetic streambed. This is being achieved due to release of the energy, which had been dependant of previous decisions, wrong statements and expectations. These changes usually contradict with client’s contentions; that is why in EIT it is used to persuade or to “deceive” the client for him/her to realize how misleaded he/she had been. That is why in EIT interpretation and philosophic revelation often takes place after the process of transformation. In gestalt therapy there is no interpretation and client is not prompted with decisions.

Although EIT shares some principals of gestalt therapy and integrates in it some methodological methods of this trend, as well as gestalt therapy includes in it both the ideas of psychoanalysis, and some devices from psychodrama.

The difference between imaginative therapy by Leyner and EIT is that:

1. We do not work with certain preliminary modified motives (e.g. image of a flower, river, cave, etc.), but we determine initial emotional condition, based upon the problem. This condition manifests internal conflict. Later, by using different devises, used by client, we eliminate pathological emotional condition.

2. We work in psychosomatic ideology, i.e. we always determine not only emotion, but its somatic experience, and its image. We believe that emotion can not be understood without its somatic manifestation. First, we look for pathological emotion, then its somatic analysis is provided, and after it an image is constructed. All these are not random fantasies on the given topic, although, they might be used in group work. Working in this paradigm is more directed, than in Leyner’s system.

3. In this style a dialog and interaction with image as a real subject is performed. Client himself/herself speaks on behalf of the image, influences on it under the therapist supervision, sometime not being aware of therapist’s plot. Therapist realizes that work with emotional conditions and shares of personality are being conducted via image. Sometimes with the help of images a client is taught how to solve the problem of relationships. Approximately same type of activity can be found in gestalt therapy, mostly in interpretation of dreams, but the main goal of gestalt therapy is to make client recognizing. The rest is not under therapist’s responsibility.

In imagination therapy there is a big freedom for imagined actions, but at the same time there are six traditionally used devices: confrontation, transformation, feeding, reconciliation, magic liquor, exhaustion and murder. We are not going to criticize these devices, but we believe that devices used in EIT are much wider and more targeted on problem solving.

4. Therapist working with EIT discusses with a client collisions of client’s life meantime working with images and giving his/her interpretations of images. In EIT there a stage of the control check up of the results, stage of identification with positive image. Transformation of images is not spontaneous, but target oriented.

We could point out other small details in difference between EIT and gestalt therapy, symbol drama, and other trends of therapy. We also could point their similarities. EIT is not opposed to this or that trend, but admits itself as a part of the united therapeutic movement. But it has its own face, style and accomplishments.

World Journal «Psychotherapy» 2008, №1 (1), pp. 71—76

Linde Nikolay, Ph.D (Psychology), Professor of the Board of Psychology and Acmeology, Moscow State Humanitarian University, member of the Professional Psychotherapeutic League, Moscow, Russia. e-mail: nlinde@mail.ru

An article describes the author’s personal method of Emotional Image Therapy (EIT). General scheme of the work of solving psychological problems by means of this method is provided, as well as the list of possible spheres of application of this method are suggested. Practical examples are provided; the most interesting cases in dealing with images are described.

Key words: psychotherapy method, Emotional Image Therapy.

Method of Emotional Image Therapy (EIT) is being developed by the author since approximately 1990; first publication in 1994 being a manual “Meditative Psychology” [1]. Later the name of the method had been changed into the modern one, because it is closer to the essence of practical applications and theory, used in the framework of this therapeutic modality.

Emotional Image Therapy outcomes from the complex of theoretical statements and psychotherapy devices, part of which make it closer with other modalities (gestalt therapy, symbol drama, etc.). Together, these theories and methods make up an entire and separate area, having its own advantages and new possibilities. EIT uses an original scheme of creating subjective images of emotional states, actually experienced by the individual, based first of all on psychological expressions of these states. Further there is analysis of the clients’ problem using the given image. And then work is conducted according to the mental influences on the image with the goal of transforming negative into positive emotions which allows resolving an internal conflict. The resolution of the internal conflict brings an issue to the external conflict, behavioral changes, as well as mental state of the client.

EIT method combines advantages of subtle analytical methods allowing determining quickly and accurately the true reasons of undesireable symptoms with the possibility of effective treatment thanks to influencing the causes by working with those images. Therefore, the EIT is not symptom, but casual therapy, the therapist goes after the causes and gives an accurate psychological diagnosis, that will allow him to apply accurate and dosed influences on the images and through it on the emotional state, blocking adequate issue of the problem. The analysis is of deep personality conflicts in the given technique usually is done successfully, easy and quickly, thought influences on the image allows to double-check and verify the primary hypothesis.

Even S. Freud mentioned that the dream analysis is the “tsars’ way” to psychoanalysis. In this instance emerging images are spontaneously used to represent a visual form of concrete emotions. Therefore this image immediately shows the causes of these emotions and can serve as a means to influence it. The theory of EIT confirms that namely several chronic emotional states support the discussed problem that is why correction of this experience through the work with images, makes it possible to resolve the problem as a system of adaptation devices in general.

Example 1. During the workshop a psychologist asked me to help her to get rid of claustrophobia. “It is not that bad, but there are no doors in my apartment”. The problem occurred after the child’s birth. Baby had been frequently sick during the first year of life. I suggested to her to imagine herself being locked in some closed area, e.g. a room and to describe her feelings. She responded that even now, while imagining, she felt agitated with her hands shaking and tachycardia symptoms evident. It was hard for her to remain in such condition. Then I’ve suggested to her to imagine the image of this feeling located right in front of her. Promptly she said that it was a small drumming hedgehog. It might sound ridiculous- how come claustrophobia might be a small hedgehog with a drum? Although, hedgehog is always an image of a male, and a small hedgehog is a boy. I’ve asked her: “You have a son, don’t you?” The answer was yes. It became obvious to me that her maternal anxiousness for her sickly child had been the reason of claustrophobia, where she was unable to control situation. “A drum” – it’s her heart, which is anxious for the “hedgehog” being the reason of tachycardia.

I’ve suggested to her: “In your thoughts, could you tell the hedgehog that you allow it to be healthy and independent and not to look for your support”. She repeated it several times, feeling great relieve. Pretty soon she was able to imagine that the hedgehog left his drumsticks, and went to another room to play with its toys there… Her tachycardia had quit, her hands stopped trembling. Checkout by imagining herself in the closed area showed absolute tranquility, no signs of claustrophobia. The next day she had confirmed the result.

Comments. This example shows how easily the reason of phobia might be determined by this method. This is being proved by the simplicity of solving the problem. As physicians say:” Bene diagnostics- bene medebitur”. That was EIT approach to this case. If it were symptomatic therapy approach, the patient would be recommended relaxation, or even worse, the she might be suggested using sedatives. It would be useless, as both recommendations didn’t interact with the reason of phobia.

Mental influence of the client on his/her personal subjective images coincides with the desired and psychologically adequate solution of the internal problem, for which the devices of EIT are used (there are more than 30 of them, the list is being expanded). These devices are suggested by the therapist to the client sometimes being explained, sometimes not. But they are useful only in the case when the structure of the internal conflict is absolutely clear to the therapist. This method, if sincerely fulfilled by the client, solves the conflict entirely.

In the group work using EIT method, as well as in individual work, both the widely known and new exercises are used for producing and further analysis of the images (about 40 original exercises). E.g., the group members were recommended to listen to sounds of their bodies, to imagine how the water flows through it, to see the sense of their lives and to get united with it, to make a flight to oneself, to return the feelings lost, to enter the circle of happiness, etc.

All mentioned above gives an opportunity to say that EIT method is an independent device of therapeutic work, although the interpretation of images frequently coincides with the frames of classical therapeutic theories. EIT method uses the notions and logics of individual psychology of A. Adler, analytical psychology of K. Young, theories of V. Raykh, transactional analysis of E. Burne, gestalt therapy of F. Pearls, and other concepts. This means EIT method allows to combine in one multimodal system of different and even self exclusive theoretical models by using of one or another model, sometimes both simultaneously, depending of the nature of the internal conflict, expressed in the images of emotional conditions.

EIT method might be used for solving wide scope of therapeutic problems. It is broadly used for corrections of different types of psychosomatic problems (e.g. headaches, heart and muscular pains, allergies [9], neurodermitises, etc.), phobias, different emotional problems, obsessions, lallatations, anaclisises, posttraumatic conditions, problems of grief and losses, character’s corrections.

It is successfully used in helpline [16]. The method helps to cope with the problem of helpline professionals’ occupational fading. It opens wide scope of opportunities on correction of children’s psychological problems, when the work is preceded not with the child itself, but with the parent. Solving parent’s problem automatically causes correction of kid’s problem [18]. This method can not be recommended for using with psychotic patients, although there are attempts to use it in such cases.

An accent of this style is alteration of psychological state of the client right now and here, in real time. Of course, such quick results might be obtained only when the method, used by the client, really relives him/her of primary emotional stagnation and is used sincerely and in full range. Please find two examples, illustrating the idea, as well as emotional image therapy style in general.

Example 2. On one of the workshops I’ve suggested to the students to monitor the way I was working. A student asked me to help her solving her psychosomatic problem. She felt constant severe back pain, which caused sleeping problems. Medicals were unable to help her.

I’ve suggested to her to imagine the image of this pain. She saw it as a huge spider, sitting on her back. As far as spider is normally a symbol of a male, I had made a guess, that she might have some serious problem with a man. It turned that her boyfriend was a drug addict, and she was doing her best to safe him from this addiction. She is making attempts to separate from him, but fails. We had tried different maneuvers for her to get rid of the spider, but nothing worked to relieve her from this anaclisis.

She realized that she would be unable to safe the boyfriend him anyhow, and that she was sacrificing her health and her future, but somehow she “couldn’t” let him go. Then I’ve suggested to her to answer in the name of this spider “Whether he needed to be saved and to be pulled somewhere on somebody’s back?” Answering to this question, the girl realized that he actually didn’t need it. Immediately she was able to relieve the spider, it disappeared. The pain resolved immediately that same moment. That night she quit with the addicted boyfriend. Some time later she had met another man, got married, gave birth to a child and was happy. She never again have been suffering (at least for the past 4 years) from back pain. She told me this story four years after the session, when I completely forgot about it.

Comments. It is obvious, that the student couldn’t separate from her boyfriend due to false understanding of obligation; she had been waiting for a miracle, and afraid of being responsible for his failure. That was the reason of why she didn’t use the suggested devices sincerely. After talking in the name of “a spider”, she realized, that he didn’t deed to be rescued, and his future downfall was predetermined by his own wish, and she couldn’t be responsible for it. She realized that she was carrying him on her back against his will. This direct recognition, which couldn’t be achieved by any therapist’s arguments, allowed her to let this person go and stop stretching her back for his rescue. That is why her back pain had stopped immediately and she never had felt it again. She managed to quit with her boyfriend, and get rid of emotional addiction and false obligations.

A lot of examples might be suggested, we would like to show just one more.

Example 3. A forth year student told that she was feeling an urge demand to quit studying. She fetches any reason not to attend classes, but she can’t realize why this happens. Meantime she wants to get higher education, and she likes her major. I’ve suggested to her to imagine the power which stops her from studying. “Power” told her that it was “possible to live without higher education…” I’ve asked her whether anybody told her this in her childhood. She recollected that her grandmother used to tell her that she didn’t graduate from the university, as she had quit after the forth year. She thought it was possible to leave without higher education. Grandmother had had three kids, two of them quit studying, and the third one never even tried to enter a university…

I’ve suggested to the student to imagine her granny and to tell her: ‘Grandmother, I’ve graduated from the university, I am good specialist, and I am happy”. She did what I’ve told her and “saw” her grandmother being very angry, and herself feeling guilty. This feeling “stacked” in the diaphragm area and made it difficult for her to breath. “O, my God! It’s my asthma!”- She said.

I’ve suggested to her to dismiss her feeling of gilt (the device of getting rid of emotions with the help of fake sound). On doing it she started breathing with her full lungs, as she never managed to do before. ”I just enjoy breathing!” she said. I’ve asked her to repeat the same words to her grandmother. She did and said that grandmother was angry again… But the student didn’t feel herself guilty, she didn’t care: ‘It’s her problem now, if she wants to be angry, she can be!”

The girl kept studying and graduated successfully. Several times she told me how freely she breathed and how happy she was to do that.

Comments. It’s clear that in this case we face parent’s instruction “don’t be success” (E.Burne), which the student had got from her grandmother. The girl had been experiencing the false feeling of guilt for her desire to be success and to “overstep” grandmother. This feeling blocked not only her desire to get higher education, but also her open breath, being universal restriction for her activity. Escape from her quilt, made her free of the previously adopted instruction, so she managed both to breath and to study. All this had happened at the moment of total escape from the sense of quilt, which makes us to think that so called parents’ instructions are being kept in child’s psychics only due to the permanent emotional restraint.

Now let’s get back to the main theoretical postulate of EIT. It presumes that the reason of any psychological problem is some basic emotional restraint on some desire, or on some false obstacle, which hinders its achievement (see more in [10]). That is why all the work performed in EIT is aimed on the search of this restraint and escape of it by different actions with image of the emotion, restraining the problem. Escape of the restraint immediately releases the subject and it becomes evident in his psychosomatic state.

All known therapeutic theories differ from each other primarily in nominating different reasons of emotional restraint (traumas, sexual desires, inferiority complex, parents’ instructions, et. al.)

Therapeutic Activity Scheme

1. Clinical counseling. As well as in the other trends of therapy, before the work on changing the condition starts, the therapist gets acquainted with the patient, clarifies the problem, gets the history and ties up a contract. All these principles are well known and described in literature. The outcome of counseling should be clear definition of some notional symptom: feeling or condition, which the client treats as unwanted, causing him sufferings. The problem situation, inside of which this symptom occurs, is also determined during the first session. In the further process the therapist might get back to the counseling, if some circumstances or desires of the client become unclear.

Already on this stage the therapist should get the primary speculation of the structure of the problem i.e. of impulses, which should be realized, and of preventing obstacles. Those who study the method should get acquainted with different models, which explain the nature of the problems from the standpoint of one or another concept, and with the methods, revealing the real nature causing negative psychological symptoms. They are taught “to read” the images produced by the client. If they fail to interpret them, they should be aware of methods, which will decipher the image.

2. Clarification of the symptom. First, on this stage symptom should be clear and its psychosomatic manifestations are being evident. It means that if the feeling is not realized by the client, the therapist enforces it, makes it obvious, and determines its nuances. In such cases the client is suggested to imagine the situation in which he/she normally feels unwished symptoms. Second, it should be clarified how this feeling or state is expressed somatically (where and how). Third, the relationship between certain situation and psychological manifestation of the symptom must be established. This stage is based on the theory that every feeling exists in the body, not in the air, and that psychosomatic expression of the feeling better reveals its nature, than just verbal notion. E.g., a client might say that he/she feels fear, but the psychological expression might reveal anger, as it locates in diaphragm and is being felt as severe tension. In this case it is worse while to know possible localization of feelings by Raykh.

If the feeling is poorly recognized by the client, he/she might be recommended to imagine the situation, in which this feeling is being experienced. This makes him/her experience the basic situation pretty clearly. But one should remember, that some past situations might be shocking for an individual, because a deaden feeling becomes vivid again, and he/she fails to cope with the situation. There are several devices which help to cool the passions, and meantime not to suppress the basic condition to be able to work with it. For instance, dissociation method might be used (it’s when the client is suggested to tell what is being happen to him/her as if he/she might be outfacing himself/herself).

The necessity of determining psychological correlations of the feelings is based on different reasons. When the individual describes where in the body and how he/she feels, he/she gets better understanding of it. He/she starts to understand that the feeling exists in his/her body and nowhere else. Besides, on describing feelings, client uses the terms “ like squeezed by screws”, “as if burning nail is stacked”, “ as if I am being cut with sharp knife”, “ a clot prevents me from breezing”, “ it’s a fog in front of my eyes”, “ a wall doesn’t let me”, “ I feel disgusting as if I am a pile of mud”, etc. This is how client eventually comes up to the next stage.

3. Composition of the image. Now the client is suggested to imagine the feeling (the symptom) in the shape of an image, located on the chair in front of him/her or just in the air (sometimes it might be different location of the image: inside the body or around it).

It seems that this device of transition from psychosomatically expressed feeling to the image itself seems something fantastic and impossible. But it is the most important innovation of EIT method. Client is recommended not to think thoroughly: “the first thing which came to your mind is good…” This instruction works for appearance of spontaneous, the unconsciously made images, which are really informative from the standpoint of the analysis of the problem and its correction. If the client spends time for thinking, it becomes suspicious that he/she is suppressing the primarily gotten image and is trying to make up something “better.” In this case the image might be false and expressing the reluctance to get therapy. But this also might be used to reveal the truth. As soon as we understand the reason of the defense, we could reveal the issue which is defending itself from recognition.

Normally, the visual image is used, but sometimes the audio-, kinesthetic, or osphoretic sources also might be used. Some clients feel difficulties on producing the images, these usually being a sign of impedance in realization of one’s problems. Or the tension and lack of full trust to the therapist. Also, it might be based on the thesis that a person might to think only in terms of formal logic.

With such clients the preliminary relaxation training might be useful. Or they might be suggested to express their feeling in drawing, which sometimes sounds easier for them. With some of the clients it’s worse while to discuss the issues of their worries and the issue of trust to psychotherapist, the others need, like in psychoanalysis, their personal resistance to be clarified.

4. Restraint check-up. Under the term “Restraint” we mean emotional-energetic connection between the image and the state of the subject. If this connection really exists, then the changes in the image might bring to the changes in the client’s condition (e.g. enlargement of the size of the image might call the enforcement of the negative condition and vice versa).

In most cases such check -up is not needed, we rarely use it, but sometimes it gives an opportunity to better determine the problem. For instance, the client had been complaining that she was feeling fear in new companies. These fear looked like a disgusting toad. The toad itself didn’t call up severe emotions. I’ve recommended her to enlarge the toad in its size. Finally, the toad became huge, put one paw on the client’s throat and started to strangulate her. The client felt unconscious. Later it was clarified that it had been connected with her past conflict with her father, when he tried to strangulate her being in fury.

5. Research of the image. The image is should be investigated from the standpoint of feeling characteristics (size, form, color, etc.), from the standpoint of functions (what does it do for the client), and from the standpoint of the attitude (what is the subject’s attitude to the image and vice versa).

The image itself contains tremendous amount of information, which the therapist is supposed to know how to read. On this stage therapeutic hypothesis might be crucially revised.

Not all of the images might be directly deciphered, in correlation with the real knowledge about the client’s problem and the circumstances of his/her life it is not that difficult to understand its meaning. There are famous psychoanalytical interpretations, e.g., a snake is a symbol of penis. Also, one can find useful information in the Leyner’s imaginative therapy. But, the author also managed to add to the list some “deciphered” images. E.g., image of the rock always presumes an authoritative parent; images of emptiness presumes suppressed feelings; image of the dirt means prohibited feelings; clouds and fog – unshed tears; needles mean critics or self critics, etc. A short list of images and its interpretations one can find in [10].

But the most important is the dialog with the image, when a client mentally is asking it questions (tipped by the therapist), and answers in behalf of it, as if the image exists in reality like a fairy tale personage. Sometimes the client switches the places with the image and becomes it, talking in its name. All this is being possible because the image symbolizes some certain part of the clients’ personality. The client is definitely aware if it, but he/she doesn’t realize and investigate it. Sometimes even two or more images exist simultaneously, and the analysis switches from one to another, when it becomes needed from the standpoint of the leading hypothesis. It might last until the hypothesis becomes confidence and the therapist brings the client to actual awareness of the basic emotional conflict. At this moment the therapist realizes what therapeutic device he/she might use in order to help the client to solve the basic conflict.

On this stage the analytical part of the EIT work is finished, but it is presumed that the therapist might get back to it if needed.

6. Transformation. Here one or more devices of transformation of the image might be used (see more in [10]. The most frequently used are: mental actions with the image, communication or expression of the feelings, counterwork with double image, paradox resolution, conversion of the energy, etc. (see below). Transformation is always used in accordance with the structure of the psychological problem, in view of ecological clearance of the result. The goal of transformation is to change emotional condition, which causes the problem, and not just compose new images. Mechanical changes of images will not be success.

7. Integration of the image and personality (identification).This method is also the original innovation of EIT. If the desired condition of the subject is obtained, it is needed for this subject to anticipate the gotten positive image into his/her body and to integrate with it. Or the client might establish any other type of positive relationships. E.g., if in the course of therapy the client’s image of him/herself changed from a small and humiliated one into a strong and self-confident person full of energy, the client is suggested to switch a chair and become that strong and self-confident person, i.e. to identify him/herself with the image.

This stage gives us opportunity to make positive condition stable and adopted by the individual him/herself. It’s our body which contains our emotional condition, and adoption of the image in one’s body helps the client to better feel his/her new condition and to get used to it. In some cases the client refuses to adopt the changed image, this might be the reason for further investigation of his/her psychological problems.

But it should be mentioned, that one should not mechanically implement new images into the body. Some naïve students, who had heard something about the method, tried to adopt the image of Mercedes into their bodies! It is obvious that the person should adopt the feeling, symbolized by image, but not the image itself.

8. Situational check-up. If the subject would imagine the situation which had caused negative condition, and this condition would not show up again, this might be the criteria of transformation success. In practice, the check- up reveals that this imaginative check- up is fully identical to the real situations. What happens in imagination happens in real life. In rare cases, when the individual solves the problem in his imagination, but fails to do it in reality, it turns out that he/she is lying to him/herself and to the therapist, or that there are additional reasons to suffer. This needs for him/her additional work.

The client might also be recommended to imagine some future situations, and their success due to the obtained condition. This will work both as a means of follow up, and as a device of spreading the achievements of the therapeutic séance in the real life of the person.

The main goal is to realize how sincere and serious the client is accepting the changes. Some of them say that they had achieved the most desirable condition and would never let it go. Some just pretend to agree. Those results would not be stable. It should be determined what the client is not happy with, and the negative results corrected.

9. Ecological check up. Negative side effects should be ruled out. If no side effects, the result should be anchored. The client should be asked whether he/she were not against the achieved changes, does he/she feels uncomfortable, etc.

10. Confirmation. The subject is suggested to put an internal anchor, i.e. to make a deal with the achieved condition. The therapist should ask: “Do you agree with the changes which had been achieved?” If the client agrees, the second question would be “Would you like to keep these changes forever?” If the client is fully satisfied with the changes, one must be sure that these changes will last in future. If the work is supposed to be continued, the achieved results would become the basis for the future changes.

In practice, if the case is evident, some of these stages could be avoided.

EIT has its benefits, which provide positive results in a short timeframe. Therapeutic process looks like a logical consequent series of questions, focused on the image. The client answers on behalf of this image. The metaphysics of the actions is produced simultaneously, same with additional images, etc. If needed, the therapist analyses the real life situations, which had caused the initial conflict and recommends making some additional images, etc.

The main thing is that the work with image gives an opportunity not only to realize something, but also to change “it”.

1. Feeling related to the problem situation exactly reflects restrained emotional energy, which somehow can’t be implemented.

2. Feeling, being expressed somatically is the most reliable source of the essence of the problem. Words may lie, but not body.

3. Going through the problem via images is more reliable to the client, than verbalization of it. Insight can be achieved much easier with the help of images. Unexpected image changes due to some actions are very powerful validation.

4. Projection of the image on the chair or just in the space provides dissociation of the subject and the feeling, expressed in the image. This makes transformation work easier.

5. Image expression of the feeling makes its status of something existing in reality. Client feels an urge need of doing something with it, to overwhelm an influence of this really active factor. Otherwise he/she feels that “it” would keep haunting, these being strong motivating factor.

6. Image gives a lot of additional information about the nature of the problem, which might be creatively used by psychotherapist. Having some practical skills, psychotherapist manages to immediately realize the true notion of the images, which help him/her tremendously in working with them.

7. Notional images exactly correlate with unconscious processes, subjective influence on the images being directly reflected on the content of unconscious.

8. Variety of methods used in working with images gives a therapist wide scope of deviations of primary condition. Original innovations in this sphere make it possible for quick and effective changes.

9. Dynamics of the image changes during the séances, as well as changes in the correlated emotional conditions, gives an opportunity to provide control of the results. Therapist has an opportunity to supervise the process until quality changes of condition are obtained and a problem is being successfully solved.

10. Somatising of the positive images gives opportunity to anchor the results. Thus, a client is being identified with positive condition.

11. A result of the therapy becomes visual immediately during the séance, if a client uses the right device of impact on the image.

12. Positive transformations are always reflected on the psychosomatic condition of the client, this being the demonstration of success.

Transformation devices of emotional condition with working on images.

There are a lot of therapeutic devices used for transformation of images and basic problem conditions, the new ones being created constantly.

Find the list of the more frequently used ones

1. Meditation. A client is recommended to concentrate on the negative parts of the images (visual, acoustic, kinesthetic, or osmotic). As a result, an image transforms by itself, with this transformation the negative emotional condition vanishing as well.

This device is used for correction of simple psychosomatic symptoms. E.g., a client is suggested to smell how the heart pain smells. As a result, the imagined smell evaporates, and the pain dissolves in 3—5 minutes. This device is used for getting rid of pains, tachycardia, spasms, etc.

2. Mental actions with images. An image, symbolizing some feeling might be presented to somebody, or gotten from somebody; a knot might be untangled, etc. First of all the notion of the image is crucial: a loaf of bread might be baked and eaten, or it might be thrown in somebody’s face.

3. Expression of feelings. A feeling might be expressed by a sound, flow of energy, or verbally… While expressing the feeling, an image would dissolve. This is how directed and controlled catharsis is provided.

4. Paradox resolution. During the analysis of the internal notion of the image it becomes clear what restrictions it is importing on the personality. A client is suggested to permit the image doing the same things to him/her. E.g., a client feels oneself imprisoned. He is recommended to give freedom to the prison… As a result, a prison disappears, and a client understands that he/she is free. He/she realizes that it was he/she keeping oneself in the psychological prison…

5. To play with dirt. This is devise used in dealing with denied feelings, which are normally expressed by the image of dirt. A client is suggested to put his/her hands into this “dirt” and to play with it as a child does. As a result dirt transforms into a personality’s positive resource.

6. Denial of incorrect actions. If the analysis reveals, that an image symbolizes a valuable part of the client’s personality, which is being suppressed and denied by the client, then he/she is recommended to tell this image that he/she would never do that again. Positive changes of the image and psychosomatic changes in patient’s condition confirm psychological actions.

7. Energizing of the image. A client is suggested to give a lot of mental energy to image, which would encourage its growth and development. It is crucial when an image symbolizes child’s onset of the client.

8. To return harm. This device is very helpful in working with rape victims, terrorist acts, any other harassment or violence. A client is recommended to imagine where in the body he is keeping the image of the harm. After it he/she is suggested to return it to the violator being polite and even thankful. The goal is to help the victim to stop identifying him/her-self with the caused harassment, which would lead to a quick rehabilitation.

9. Redistribution of the shares. The goal of this method is harmonization of the relationships and unification of contradictions. By forwarding the “shares”, it is possible to reconstruct the balance between dependable parts of personality (child and parent, etc.).

10. Energy conversion. Energy of the negative image, e.g. client’s anger or defense might be transformed into a positive form, which would feed the weak part of the personality, needing this defense. A mature part of personality does not need any defense mechanisms, as it solves the problems by itself.

11. Paradox intention method. This method had been initially invented by W. Frankl for correction of phobias or fixed states. The idea of it is that client is supposed to feel what he is afraid of. In EIT it means that client is suggested to touch the frightening image or to ask it to enforce its influence (e.g., “scream louder!”).

12. Method of contra-instruction. It is used in the cases when client had got a negative instruction from his parents. Client is suggested to imagine the parent or substitution image and to tell him/her something absolutely controversial to the gotten instruction. This is supposed to be repeated until a negative impact would not stop. Or the emotional reason for it would be revealed, which anchors instruction. After these additional devices are supposed be used (see example 3).

As it was already mentioned, there are no less than 30 different devises which are being used in EIT, but it is worse while to get acquainted with them in [1—20].

Differences of the other therapeutic trends

Close to EIT are symbol drama and gestalt therapy. Listed below are basic differences of these methods.

The difference between gestalt therapy and EIT is:

1. Gestalt therapy is focused mainly on the process of perception, and in this it is similar to psychoanalysis. The main goal of EIT is the change in the emotional condition, which determines the problem. From this standpoint, EIT is a psychodynamic therapy, using notions of classical psychoanalysis, A. Adler’s individual psychology, somatic therapy by W.Reich, transaction analysis by E.Burne and other concepts, even transpersonal ones, but the main theoretic idea being the basis of any problem are different “entrapped” emotional impulses.

2. The goal of gestalt therapy is to put a client at a stand, in order to make him/her make a breakthrough. EIT therapy believes that individual mostly makes harm to oneself, and that is why he/she would insist on the wrong solution. During discussion in EIT style we suggest some unknown to him/her philosophic principles, and push him/her to the right decision. In gestalt therapy it seems that it is unknown which decision is right, the choice being always done by client. In our paradigm the client’s freedom is also respected, but we have the right to lead him/her and to suggest solutions.

If the client is not happy with what he/she had changed in himself/herself according to our recommendations, he/she always has a right to get back to the previous way of life. We are looking not only for understanding, but for actual changes of the client. When he/she “tries” new condition, he/she can make his/her mind of what amendments should be made, or even to decide to get back to the old way of life. But usually the answer is obvious, because not to be afraid is much better than to be afraid, and to be kind is better than to be angry, etc.

3. Therapy in EIT is clearly divided into analytical and transformational, although in some cases transformation is needed for revealing the real reasons causing the problem. Often, transformation in EIT occurs without client’s recognition of what being a real source of the problem and what solutions might be gained. From this standpoint EIT is more directive method, then gestalt, but more soft as it gives better support and aims client directly to the goal.

4. In EIT it is used to make a contract with a client about the changes he/she would like to achieve, therapist making sure that the contract would be clear and realistic, as well as ecologically adequate. Result of the therapy is controlled by imagined critical situation and anchored by different devices. In gestalt therapy therapist’s position is – a client gets whatever he/she can get and wants to get, with therapist being not interested in the certain result. Result is not being checked in the imagined critical situation. In EIT a therapist is “fighting until the victory”, until the success at least on any intermediate stage, which usually is discussed with the client.

5. EIT stands on the position that emotions are psychological energetic processes. The goal of a therapist is not always release of the suppressed impulses, but more often reimbursement of wasted energy in the general energetic streambed. This is being achieved due to release of the energy, which had been dependant of previous decisions, wrong statements and expectations. These changes usually contradict with client’s contentions; that is why in EIT it is used to persuade or to “deceive” the client for him/her to realize how misleaded he/she had been. That is why in EIT interpretation and philosophic revelation often takes place after the process of transformation. In gestalt therapy there is no interpretation and client is not prompted with decisions.

Although EIT shares some principals of gestalt therapy and integrates in it some methodological methods of this trend, as well as gestalt therapy includes in it both the ideas of psychoanalysis, and some devices from psychodrama.

The difference between imaginative therapy by Leyner and EIT is that:

1. We do not work with certain preliminary modified motives (e.g. image of a flower, river, cave, etc.), but we determine initial emotional condition, based upon the problem. This condition manifests internal conflict. Later, by using different devises, used by client, we eliminate pathological emotional condition.

2. We work in psychosomatic ideology, i.e. we always determine not only emotion, but its somatic experience, and its image. We believe that emotion can not be understood without its somatic manifestation. First, we look for pathological emotion, then its somatic analysis is provided, and after it an image is constructed. All these are not random fantasies on the given topic, although, they might be used in group work. Working in this paradigm is more directed, than in Leyner’s system.

3. In this style a dialog and interaction with image as a real subject is performed. Client himself/herself speaks on behalf of the image, influences on it under the therapist supervision, sometime not being aware of therapist’s plot. Therapist realizes that work with emotional conditions and shares of personality are being conducted via image. Sometimes with the help of images a client is taught how to solve the problem of relationships. Approximately same type of activity can be found in gestalt therapy, mostly in interpretation of dreams, but the main goal of gestalt therapy is to make client recognizing. The rest is not under therapist’s responsibility.

In imagination therapy there is a big freedom for imagined actions, but at the same time there are six traditionally used devices: confrontation, transformation, feeding, reconciliation, magic liquor, exhaustion and murder. We are not going to criticize these devices, but we believe that devices used in EIT are much wider and more targeted on problem solving.

4. Therapist working with EIT discusses with a client collisions of client’s life meantime working with images and giving his/her interpretations of images. In EIT there a stage of the control check up of the results, stage of identification with positive image. Transformation of images is not spontaneous, but target oriented.

We could point out other small details in difference between EIT and gestalt therapy, symbol drama, and other trends of therapy. We also could point their similarities. EIT is not opposed to this or that trend, but admits itself as a part of the united therapeutic movement. But it has its own face, style and accomplishments.