by Leslie Davenport
Interest in incorporating guided imagery (directing pictures we see in our minds, our feelings, and our inner senses) for healing into hospital settings is growing rapidly in the Bay Area. Marin General Hospital, located in Greenbrae, California, has a newly established program in place that provides free guided imagery sessions (up to 50 minutes) to patients. The program, staffed by nine volunteers (professionals in the field of Psychology, with an average of nine years in private practice), is also being offered to the public on a sliding-scale, the cost of which may be covered by insurance. In addition, support groups and classes are being offered, which utilize and teach imagery skills for those in treatment as well as for those who wish to use imagery as a preventative measure. Brookside Hospital, located in the East Bay, heard about the program at Marin General and now has three volunteers working in their cancer center doing guided imagery.
This remarkable program is the creation of Leslie Davenport, M.S., M.F.C.C. Davenport, currently teaching holistic health and transpersonal Psychology Graduate programs at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California, is a graduate of the Academy for Guided Imagery in Marin, California. She began working through the Chaplain’s office at Marin General Hospital approximately four years ago. Her work there led her to incorporate counseling and guided imagery into the cancer program.
The response she received from the patients and hospital staff was so positive that a year ago, Davenport wrote a formal proposal to the hospital administration to expand the program hospital-wide. After review by various hospital committees, approval was given, and a formal affiliation with the Academy for Guided Imagery was established.
Dr. Martin Rossman, co-director of the Academy, is assisting Davenport in selecting therapists for the program. Dr. Rossman is a leading authority in guided imagery whose 1989 book, “Healing Yourself,” is considered a major work in this field. “Imagery is the way we think,” said Dr. Rossman. “When we daydream, we’re using imagery. The only difference in this setting is that we use imagery to heal.” Davenport adds, “We consider guided imagery as one of the doors open to people. When they open that door, it gives them an awareness of their bodies, their mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and teaches them how to use that awareness to help themselves.”
Davenport describes her role in guided imagery as that of a midwife.