• Connecting with imagery and visualisation practices can help us understand what we might need to change

  • Dr Dina Glouberman, interviewed here by Harriet Griffey, has written her new book ImageWork to help people take this practice further

In the spring of 2020 when Covid-19 hit and the world went into lockdown, Dina Glouberman was as affected as the rest of us. Her in-person, one-to-one client work, groups and workshops had to stop. ‘Like so many, I found it hard to focus or follow through on the projects already in hand,’ she says. ‘I suppose like others, I was in shock.’

A psychotherapist, coach, facilitator and world-renowned expert on transformational imagery, Dr Glouberman is also the co-founder and director of Skyros Holistic Holidays, which she pioneered 43 years ago. ‘It was at this point of psychological stasis a couple of weeks into lockdown that I decided to do a visioning exercise I had used with others many times before, this time for myself. I chose the exercise in which you time-travel to two possible futures, one happy and one unhappy, to imagine what that might look like and how I might feel. The unhappy future left me feeling almost unable to breathe and full of shame, while the image of a happy future made me feel content and positive. What was at the centre of my imagined happiness? It was the idea of this book, a culmination of 40 years of ImageWork that this enforced space in my life might allow me to write. I started working on the proposal for it the next day.’

That book, just published, is ImageWork: The Complete Guide to Working With Transformational Imagery. ‘ImageWork is very powerful; it affects our actions, thoughts and feelings and even our autonomic nervous system, which regulates our involuntary physical reactions, and we can harness our imagination to make powerful changes. We use what I call the ‘Everyday Imagination’ all the time, but it’s by learning to use the ‘Transformational Imagination’ that we can re-imagine the outdated models that affect our lives, and then create original new templates.’

Not only does Dr Glouberman’s new book contain the theory and practice of ImageWork, it also includes specific exercises for the three key areas of her approach, healing, creative and transcendent imagery, alongside case studies from individual clients and group members that serve to illuminate its impact. 

‘While words enable us to think and communicate, imagery is a child’s first language enabling them to comprehend their world, so in a sense we are reclaiming this ability to connect with imagery and this can help us understand what we might need to change. My first experience of ImageWork came after I’d been doing a group workshop on Fritz Perls’ dream therapy, where you act out the subject or object in your dream to work towards integrating aspects of your personality. Discussing this with a colleague, she mentioned that she sometimes used imagery in this way, for herself, outside of working in a group. That was quite a revelation to me, to use it on your own, and inspired my further exploration into the value of imagining as something I could teach people, and the development of my ideas and ImageWork practice. Many practices like gestalt therapy, NLP, Jungian analysis and humanistic psychology use imagery, and I developed my own model which I’ve been using extensively for years and wanted to make this, the Glouberman approach, more widely available.’

‘It’s important for any ImageWork guide or facilitator to fully acknowledge the reality of the image world of their client, whatever they may personally feel about it, it has to be the client’s. I remember a young woman, Serena, in a group I was working with in Skyros whose boyfriend had recently died, and she was afraid to go on a boat trip because she believed he wanted her to join him in death and she might feel compelled to jump off the boat. Rather than dismissing her fear as irrational or nonsensical, this was an opportunity to explore through ImageWork something that was very real to her. She and I worked together on this and by imagining him in person and in conversation with us, I was able to talk to him and I convinced him that what he was asking of her was unfair and he agreed to let her go. She went on the boat trip without fear.’ 

Although she has written previous books, including The Joy of Burnout and Life Choices, Life Changes (and a personal memoir, Into The Woods and Out Again) Dr Glouberman is adamant this is her last. ‘It’s absolutely the culmination of my work,’ she says. ‘I wanted to write this handbook, create a diploma in ImageWork, and set up the Aurora Centre for ImageWork in Puglia in order to share my approach more widely, and to enable others to utilise it. The Aurora Centre is open to everyone who wants to learn more about ImageWork, either to extend their professional practice or to use ImageWork for themselves. The upcoming retreat in October offers the chance to tap into the imagination that guides our lives, enabling us to make creative life choices and profound life changes. I truly believe – and I have seen the evidence for it – that if you can imagine it, you can create it, and this learning empowers us all.’ 


ImageWork: The Complete Guide to Working With Transformational Imagery by Dina Glouberman

Photo credit Natasha Pszenicki

Further reading

The power of imagination in psychotherapy

Carl Jung and the value of active imagination

The benefits of working with dreams in therapy