IAF AdminIAF Library

Guided Imagery

by for .  
3 - 426 - 50
This can be used for idea generation especially when the group is stuck.


To bring to the surface insights and ideas through the use of a guided imagery exercise and to experience the power of guided imagery as a source of ideas.




    Setting: Comfortable chairs, pillows for those who would like them.

    Types of participants: any willing to do the exercise. It is a bit threatening for some people.

    Pre-Work Required: Prepare the script and practicing reading it.

    1. We are going to use a technique called Guided Imagery or sometimes it is called Visioning.

    2. It is used most often when individuals or groups are stuck in trying to create a new idea or solve a problem.

    3. This will only take about 30 minutes of your time.


    1. Ask people to find a comfortable place to sit. Begin reading the script slowly, with feeling but without being overly dramatic. You want it to be personal without being syrupy.

    a. First I would like for you to find a comfortable seat. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, your hand in your lap or at your side and your eyes closed. Take a minute and starting with your toes relax your muscles, then your feet, the calves of your legs, your thighs, your back and stomach, now relax your shoulder and neck, finally your arms.

    b. Now we want to take a journey into your imagination.

    c. Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. It is wide and flowing slowly. Trees shade most of the area you are standing in but the sun shines through in patches. You have bare feet and the grass you are standing on is cool. The breeze is comfortably warm. The sound of the water tinkling and the breeze moving the leaves is all you can hear. You are content. You stand up and look up and down the river. There is a path along the river and you stroll slowly up stream.

    d. The trees grew closer together and it became a little darker. The sun could not penetrate to this part of the path. You feel comfortable in the shade and notice birds singing.

    e. The river bends. As you continue around the bend you see a hill. You follow the path up the hill. The trees and brush form a thin archway that you go through. As you pass through you notice a piece of paper with writing on it. It seems important and with some excitement, you pick it up and look carefully at it.

    f. The trees thin out and the hill is flat and covered with grass. At the top of the hill overlooking the river is a tower. It is has a door at its foot. Narrow slits for windows climb to the top. They are dark and reveal nothing about what is within. You walk to the door and turn the handle. Inside is a single room with straw on the floor. You can smell the straw decaying and the musty wet of the walls. On the outside wall of the room a stairway climbs in a spiral.

    g. You climb the stairs and come to a door. You knock and a somewhat familiar voice asks you to come in. You turn the handle and walk in. The room is warm from a fire in the fireplace. A table has a few things on it. The rest of the room is bare. A few comfortable chairs face the fireplace. A person rises from one of the chairs, walks over to you and greets you warmly.

    h. Knowing that you can trust this person, speak of things that are important to you. They listen carefully and ask insightful questions. When you have told all you know. For a few moments you sit comfortable in the silence. They then begin to speak. What they have to say is of great value to you. You continue in deep dialogue for some time. You both walk to the window and watch the river as it flows by. You consider what has been said.

    i. After a while you feel it is time to go and tell the other person. They agree and lead you to the door. As you are about to step out they hand you something. You are surprised and then leave. You walk down the stairs and out the door into the sunlight.

    j. You walk down the hill into the woods. You follow the path back down to the arch. You walk through to the river. Again you follow the path through the darkened forest and on to where you began. You sit down on the grass where you were at the beginning. You remember the gift and look at it turning it over in your hand watching the play of light on it. You then spend a few minutes in deep thought remembering the conversation in the tower. Then you recall the paper you found at the arch. You take it out and study it carefully.

    k. After a few minutes, you slowly become aware of the room you are sitting in. You stretch. You slowly open your eyes. You come back to the room with all the insights and discoveries you found on your journey.

    2. When people have returned from their journey please ask the following:

    a. What are some of the things that happened on the journey?

    b. What were some of your feelings?

    c. You have three things that you bring back from the journey: the piece of paper, the conversation and the object. What was an insight you have from one of these.

    d. Are there other insights?

    e. Please take a few minutes and list all of the ideas you have from this journey.

    3. You can have people tell about their insights, put the best on cards and organize them, or any other idea processing procedure.


    1. Write a script to guide thinking. An example is given below.
    2. It is important to practice reading the script slowly and as though it were a story and not a newspaper report.

    Tip for using this method online.

    This process can be done online. It is a good idea to instruct the participants to turn on their videos to allow you to use gallery view to observe some of their physical reactions to the exercise and gauge where to curtail it if necessary. Collaboration boards may be used for the participants to record the insights they gain.


    Derived from: unknown

    History of Development: unknown

    Alternative names: Visioning, Guided visioning

    Comments (2) (4.0 avg / 1 ratings)

    Please Log in or Sign up for a FREE SessionLab account to continue.
    • This exercise may be adapted to the culture and circumstances of the participants. The narrative may be adjusted in accordance with the objectives of the programme.

      over 2 years ago
    • I use something like this for visioning, sharing a focus question first so that the imaging creates brainstorm that answers the question. I call it "guided daydreaming" and don't require people to close their eyes -- they can look at the ceiling or out the window. This makes people more comfortable. I adapt the places that they are "going" to reflect the focus of the session: such as around their workplace, or around the community. I also imagine answers as I am guiding the process -- it helps me slow my mind and guiding so that it is the right pace for the participants.

      almost 6 years ago