Above: Push and pull. The Inception clip raises the notion of experiencing and creating. The example of a film, versus a book, is worth considering- sometimes people don’t like films when they’ve read the book because it is irrefutable and suppresses imagination/pre-existing understanding- whereas the power of film is that if used well it can be an advanced leaping off point for imagination and seem very real. The way I get around this in my day to day work is by using a fairly algebraic approach where I work with variables such as A, B, C and X, Y, Z. If I know, for example, that someone wants more of the former and less of the latter, in theory I can work with them, in a systems-based way, without ever knowing what these placeholders are. This allows structured work to happen, with the person’s own meaning kept in brackets.

Virtual Reality, or immersive environments like a therapy room with screens as walls and a lighting rig, along with some haptic equipment, could be a useful way of taking the workload off the imagination leaving it free to focus more on the stuff that matters. It may serve to create an appropriate context for certain types of work. Alternatively the algebraic approach might be exploited more explicitly: whereas convincingly visually incorporating a significant other into a VR sequence, for example, might be difficult (at least at the time of writing this), there may be other ways to symbolise them that are effective: i.e. dog’s collars represent dogs quite well, other icons for people, and even simple colours and shapes can work wonders if they’re set up well based on the client’s own systems of meaning. Shadows/silhouettes might also be a possibility [‘Inception’ (2010) Warner Bros.].

Mixed Reality Experience