“Please close your eyes and visualise a cat sat on a mat for me.”
I cannot visualise, there is no cat in my minds eye and no mat on which it sits. I do not conjure images of people, places, colour or memories in my mind’s eye. I was never aware of this until I was training with a hypnotist and I could not achieve any benefit from guided meditations, altered or trance states. I was struggling to comprehend why my counterparts on the course could close their eyes and clearly see lush green fields, waves crashing on yellow sandy shores and white fluffy clouds drifting through blue skies on a steady breeze. Instead of feeling calm, relaxed and at peace these exercises made me feel panicked, frustrated and inadequate.
Eventually one day I raised my concerns with the trainer, who was puzzled, but could not provide answers or solutions to my plight. I passed the course as I could lead meditations and induce altered trance states in others, but when it came to myself I could not see what everyone else was seeing.
Apparently 1 in 50 people have a condition called Aphantasia which is an inability to visualise. If this sounds like you then visual guided meditations within counselling therapy sessions may not be helpful and could cause you discomfort. Please let your Psychotherapist know if you find it difficult to visualise and they will amend their practice and use alternative therapeutic techniques more suitable to your needs.