Visualisation methods in coaching to help achieve goals

14 May 2020

Visualisation methods in coaching to help achieve goals

There are a number of visualisation methods, and according to Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D as cited in there are 3 popular methods. 

The techniques are based two types of simulations, outcome and process.   An outcome simulation is a sensory based representation of the final outcome you expect, and a process simulation involves simulating each of the steps required to get to the final outcome.

To get the most benefit, it it recommended you use both simulations. It is also useful to try and use all of the senses, visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory, gustatory.

In supporting a client achieve a goal, I would begin with “picture and describe”. The more details included, the more realistic the process will seem. If a client wishes to say, get healthy at a gym, a visualisation which includes them smelling healthy food, tasting healthy food they like, visualising a successful workout each week, the changes to their body, and how those changes make them feel physically would be a starting point.  The brain’s natural problem solving will start to work out a plan to help you achieve this, and it may result in increased levels of motivation. 

Using all the senses and adding in detail should make the visualisation as close to reality as possible.

The second technique used in visualisation, covers emotional intensity. The more real, or true you believe something to be, the greater the emotional impact it has on you. To enhance the simulation, you need to have sufficient detail to make it feel real, and once it feels real, it leads to action. It is also worth listening to music, which matches the visualisation, so for the client, imagining a card workout in the gym, coupled with listening to inspirational workout music, enhances the experience. 

The third technique includes exposure, and this means you can only really perform actual visualisation if you know what the situation would look like.  Therefore, some research into the outcome, by visiting, or watching videos will help with reality.  An example, is if you have never been to a gym, you may not know enough about what it looks like, and how it feels, in order to visualise correctly. Therefore, an induction session, at the gym, or some website research will help gather the detail in order to manage the effectiveness of the process. 

According to Morris (2012), Carter (2006), the therapeutic application of visualisation, contributes to emotional change. Typically by using imagery which replaces other existing negative imagery. Visual and auditory images are the most researched, scientifically. Experimental psychology uses a similar approach to the one described above, and specifically four stages, being, image generation, ( initial image ) image maintenance ( frequency) , image inspection, ( adding detail ) and image transformation ( substitution of this image to replace others).   These four stages are used in the same way with clients, as explained in the above paragraphs.


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