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Can Guided Imagery be used to Rehearse for a Court Case?

27 Sep

I’m nervous about testifying  in divorce court. Could guided imagery help me? . . .

Dear Belleruth,

I have to testify in a divorce court hearing in three weeks. I have a lot of emotion about this, and a great deal is riding on the outcome. I’m quite nervous about taking the stand.

I would like to use guided imagery to help calm my anxiety and channel my fear of saying the wrong things into imagining my remaining relaxed, sharp and articulate, producing the most positive outcome that’s realistic for me. Could you recommend a specific guided imagery choice?

Thank you so much for your time and help.
Pamela Suffolk, MD


Dear Pamela,  

An inspired idea, to use your imagination to rehearse this hearing, get acclimated to the whole scene, and condition yourself to "own" it!

 People do this all the time with high stakes events, such as job interviews, law boards, speeches, theatrical performances, athletic competitions, and yes, giving testimony in court, too.
And yes, I have some suggestions. For starters, our Self Confidence and Peak Performance guided imagery has fill-in-the-blanks imagery that serves this purpose.  

You imagine yourself in the situation feeling very energized but relaxed and confident, in perfect flow with yourself and the challenges at hand. And you have an imaginary band of allies surrounding you, adding to your sense of strength and purpose.

Mary Sise has a terrific video, Thought Field Therapy for Stress Management & Peak Performance, which shows the technique of EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique, another effective way to approach this.
The method can reframe how you feel and install a sense of calm confidence in the situation.  She demonstrates these EFT tapping methods a few times on people with specific fears and phobias - and then leaves the last session for you, the viewer, where you fill in the blanks regarding your own situation and do the tapping and other instructions with her guidance.  It may seem a little daffy to you at first, but for a lot of people, it works, so who cares?  .

Another excellent resource is Roberta Shapiro's Goodbye Anxiety, Goodbye Fear, which we will be carrying in the near future, but for now you can find on Amazon. This audio uses many sophisticated hypnotic and imagery techniques to reprogram your mind about this upcoming court appearance, and I like her voice and pacing a lot.

One additional suggestion:  if it's at all possible, try to get a look at the courtroom you'll be in (or one like it) and experience being in that space.  It will help you a lot, both in the imaginary practice experiences, and to keep you from getting intimidated when you walk in on the day of the trial.  

Don't forget: courtrooms are supposed to inspire awe, fear and respect for the whole justice system, so they're not exactly designed to give you a warm, fuzzy feeling. .  Getting a firsthand experience of what that space looks and feels like, in advance, is a tremendous advantage.  But if you can't get into the building or room ahead of time, just use a picture of a pretty impressive courtroom for your imaginary 'rehearsals'.  That will do it too.  


Best of luck to you!

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Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award