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Excerpted from Guided Imagery for Healing Children and Teens by Ellen Curran. Copyright © 2001 by Ellen Curran. Excerpted by permission of Beyond Words Publishing, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"One of the most wonderful outcomes about this technique is that Allison created it herself, dramatically decreasing her feelings of helplessness."

  Ellen Curran, Guided Imagery, Part 3


"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, thatís creativity." -- Charles Mingus

After working with imagery for a short time, Allison brought her process one step further, describing to me how she called her Blue Whales by sounding a silent whistle when she felt sick or scared in school. The Blue Whales would answer the whistle and come to her aid, comforting her and helping her to decrease her symptoms. Her body would have an automatic response, much like provoking the relaxation response. She could imagine her Blue Whales once again entering into her body to help her fight off the feelings that the Frownies brought. This recall process is quiet, private, and quick and can be done anywhere, anytime. The gift of "recall" gives children a way to bring back the healing imagery in times of need, when a parent or perhaps medications are not available to them. It is very empowering! This "recall" process also helped ground her feelings, which as I discovered later, was another very important aspect of any imagery experience. One of the most wonderful outcomes about this technique is that Allison created it herself, dramatically decreasing her feelings of helplessness.

Recall can also be linked to what is known as a "trigger" or "anchor." This is a simple mnemonic, like tying a piece of string around your finger to help you remember something, but taken one step further. I have known people who rub a ring on their hand, twist a piece of hair, or touch a stone in their pocket (anchor) to help them trigger relaxation and/or the recall process. Having a physical object or device that is integrated with a particular response or feeling can help you bring that wanted feeling or response back when you need to.

Such recall is another method or tool for children to help them focus on the process and to intervene for themselves. Keep in mind that occasionally it can be difficult for a child to activate the recall process without a parental prompt. At these times, the parent/child partnership is really evident. For example, when Allison is experiencing symptoms and is having a hard time doing her recall, I can help by saying in our secret code, "Why not try blowing your whistle?" She is then reminded or "triggered" to activate her recall and imagery process. It can be as simple as going into a relaxed state or reading imagery from this book. Whatever trigger or anchor your child chooses to use is okay, and it should be private. Our "secret code" has worked well in several public places and has helped to decrease any self-consciousness Allison may feel.

Surprisingly, as I went on to specialize in imagery as a nurse, I found that the Mind/Body Medical Institute, Division of Behavioral Medicine, Harvard University, has a technique called "minis" that is quite similar to Allisonís recall process! "Minis" are a small version of the relaxation response. A "mini" is used during any part of the day to decrease stress. The act of taking a deep breath, releasing tension in the body, and using a focus word can aid in the management of stress.

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