Why Imagination Is a Vital Recovery Tool

When we hear the word ‘imagination,’ we often think of children creating an epic fantasy world to live inside for a little while. However, imagination goes well beyond this.

Unbeknown to many, imagination is a key tool in recovery. From alleviating mental health conditions such as anxiety to aiding stress management and boosting positivity within our lives, imagination comes hand-in-hand with many benefits.

Often employed by counselors and therapists worldwide, we explore why imagination is a vital recovery tool here.


Whether you have recently taken the first step in your recovery journey or have been in recovery for some time, motivation can begin to wane. It is a long process, and sometimes, it can appear that minimal progress is being made. However, by using your imagination, you can boost your motivation and stay on track.

If you find yourself lacking motivation, try imagining what your life will look like if you carry on. Take a moment to breathe and think about all you stand to gain from continuing your journey – maybe you’re focusing on improving your health, or you want to work on staying in recovery.

By picturing what this would be like, you’ll boost your motivation and drive to reach it.

Reaching Your Goals

Imagination is a great tool to help you to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. By using your imagination to stay motivated, you’ll remain on track.

Sit back and picture yourself reaching your ultimate goal. Picture exactly what it is and take a moment to reflect on what reaching that goal would feel like. Next, visualize each step you need to take to achieve it.

Not only will this enhance your motivation, but it’ll provide you with the opportunity to understand how to reach your goals and plan how to do so.

Believe in Your Vision

Your imagination can make you genuinely believe in the vision you have for your life. Some visions may seem lofty or unattainable to those in recovery, yet they become more realistic and achievable when we believe in them and imagine them.

If your goal is to stay sober for life, you can use your imagination to picture this and make it lifelike. By imagining this repeatedly, you can start to convince yourself that this will happen. In turn, your sobriety will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Letting Things Go

Imagination can be used to reframe negative thoughts and let worries and sadness go. These thoughts can dig their claws in and affect how you operate in everyday life. Interrupting these thoughts can change the way you think and feel in a highly positive way.

For instance, you may imagine yourself interrupting negative thoughts by picturing them on a piece of paper and crumpling them up or carefully erasing them from a chalkboard. This can help people to overcome complex or negative thoughts without ignoring them. By using your imagination, you can choose to acknowledge them and let them go.

Confronting Worries

Another form of imagination is worry. Everyone is familiar with worries, from little ones such as “what if my train is late?” to more substantial concerns, such as death.

Occasionally, more minor worries can spiral into larger ones – worrying about a late train can turn into worrying that you’re going to be late to work, which can then morph into a worry that you’re going to lose your job as a result.

Imagination can be a powerful tool to confront these worries, especially for those in recovery. Instead of thinking, “what if I relapse?” think what life will be like if you don’t relapse. By imagining what a long-term recovery may feel or look like for you, you will gradually feel stronger and more motivated in the face of such worries.

To Conclude

Our imagination can change our entire perception about ourselves and our lives when used right. We can reduce our anxiety and enforce positive change just by imagining good things happening. Although this change might not come overnight, our imagination can become a powerful tool in our arsenal to target negative behaviors and worries with consistent practice.

Learn more about the use of the imagination in therapeutic practices in The Master Series: Imagination Edition, running from January 12th-14th, 2022. Join speakers including Richard Schwartz, David Nutt, and Gabor Maté for a conference discussing a range of therapies and issues. Tickets are available via this link.

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