Katathymic images use the imaginative processes as a change and healing mechanism.
The Greek word Katathym is formed of the preposition kata that means “in agreement with”, and the noun thymos that means “mood”, “attitude” or “impulse”, and in general “passion”, “affection”, “heart” (as a basis for the affections) and “soul”. In this sense, Katathymon refers to what we have “in our heart” or “in our soul”.
All that is in our “heart” or “soul” can be expressed in separate and independent images from our conscious mind. Simultaneously, these images can reveal our inner intentions and conflicts. This therapy is based on a psychodynamic approach, being first created in Germany by Hanscarl Leuner about seventy years ago. It was inspired by Carl Happich and following the Jungian active line of imagination and Schultz’s autogenic relaxation, which promote the spontaneous appearance of internal images. Nowadays, this approach is practised in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and in various Eastern countries.
In order to stimulate the imagination we can make use of different symbols and images. The therapeutic work with the imagination can be focused on working on conflict, clarifying, confrontation, etc. or also used as a space for deep relaxation and recovery, renewal, gaining inner strength, enhancing resources and future performance.
This therapy approach has been proven to be useful in the treatment of a great variety of conditions and has been applied with very good results in psychosomatic disorders.
During the session the patient can experience two different aspects:
- Through the imaginative phase the therapist accompanies, guides and helps the patient with the use of questions, enabling the imaginative process, favouring exploration, evolution, experimentation and creativity. By means of contact between the interior and exterior world, a feeling of internal reality is established, an internal life. In this way, the patient can have new experiences on an emotional, cognitive and behavioural level.
- In the conversation phase, meta-communication prevails. Both therapist and patient work together in order to clarify the feelings and the unconscious relations that they have expressed in the imaginative phase. The work can be focused on specific problems in a brief manner, or it can be used for a deeper self-awareness process that requires a longer course of treatment.
Katathymic images and hypnosis share different aspects. Amongst them, we can highlight the work with the unconscious mind, symbolic language, the consideration of resources and the use of regression and progression. At first they may appear very similar forms of treatment, however there are some key differences that actually make them complementary treatments. Whilst hypnosis is more guided, in katathymic work, the images emerge with greater spontaneity, giving more space to the creativity and free expression of the unconscious mind. They are based on an analytical vision that encourages the interpretation of our imagination, in turn trying to create a better understanding of ourselves, of our conflicts and unconscious needs.