Jung coined the expression ‘active imagination’ and Process Oriented Psychology has developed it in certain ways. This technique is a creative way of working with extreme states e.g. anxiety and depression. It is not a cure, or a fix it. It rather takes hold of the huge and difficult feelings in anxiety and depression and externalizes them imaginatively. It is extraordinary how easily clients do this, and how much pleasure it gives them. After the process they feel empowered and less of a victim to these states.
It is a way of pulling the strong feelings of anxiety/depression out of the body/mind and reimagining them as a big natural phenomena e.g. a tsunami or hurricane. The client’s unconscious quickly and easily makes these links. A story is co-created where an innocent character is totally overwhelmed by the natural event, and is rescued/supported by a character with goodness and wisdom. The story resolves. Reflective questions follow which prompt the client to see their own essence, innocence and wisdom. They start to see how cleverly they support themselves. The natural phenomena is transformed into a super power e.g. a raging, flooding river becomes a massive, unstoppable force that can sweep anything out of it’s way. The client is supported in seeing how this superpower is already active in their life and to look for ways it can become even more useful.
This is for therapist’s tool boxes; once they experience the technique, feel the joy and ease of it, and benefit from the insights it gives them about their essential nature, they will be able to do this with clients.
It’s important to help clients connect with their essential nature, goodness and strengths. Sometimes we over-focus on our clients pain and suffering, and under focus on their innate inspiring qualities. Clients need to be seen as whole people with actively flourishing parts, and not just seen as their ‘mental health disorder’. Supporting them to engage with life in ways that matter to them is an important part of our work.
This technique achieves this.
Lizzie models and teaches how to support the client’s innate ability to imagine, reflect and find meaning through voice, tone, choice of words, prompting, silence, warmth and matching facial expression and mood. She models and teaches how not to add or interpret content or meaning, how to follow the client’s process whichever directions it may take, and how to shape reflective questions which expand and deepen the clients experience and meaning making. She also models and teaches how to coach the newfound realisations into the client’s life.
All this is taken from workshops and books from Arny and Amy Mindell, and Max Shupbach. Arny is the founder of POP, and Amy and Max are key teachers, trainers and writers. Lizzie has had many trainings over 30 years in POP. It also comes from a rich background teaching in Steiner Schools, where imaginative stories and metaphors are the basis of teaching all subject matter, and in addressing the unique needs of each child.
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Lizzie Spencer is a highly experienced psychotherapist, coach and academic teacher, based in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. She is an academic teacher and her passions combine when running workshops and trainings. Her preferred leadership style is experiential and transformational. This is evident in all her work, which is deep, soulful and enlivening. She taught in Steiner Schools for many years. This method thrives on artistry, imagination, sensitive group processes, storytelling, empathy, connection, trust and collaborative leadership. She is also a Social Ecologist. This lens looks to nature for helpful and supportive life systems, and brings active hope to the world. She is a founding member of the Community of Calm whose aim is to train practitioners in Trauma Awareness and to create a Trauma Resource Centre. The event won ‘Event of the Year’ in 2020 Australia Day Awards (Northern Beaches Council) for Arts for Wellness, a month long event where the local community could attend low cost, trauma informed expressive arts classes and workshops.
Family Constellations and Process Oriented Psychology are at the heart of her understanding and practice.
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4 minute walk from Chatswood train/metro/bus interchange
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Learning objectives of this training:
"Our active imagination flourishes when harnessed in creative ways; it wants to help us, and it does!" Lizzie Spencer
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