Aphantasia and Therapy: What is your experiences of therapy like?


Hello everyone! I recently had the opportunity to write an article for the network around therapy and aphantasia. I discuss some ways to approach a conversation with your therapist when disclosing your experience aphantasia. I would love to hear more about your experiences of therapy. Have you talked with your therapist about aphantasia? If so, how did it go? What would you want your therapist to know? What would you want the mental health profession to know about your experiences of aphantasia? Please share anything you feel comfortable discussing. Thank you all!

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Hi. As a therapist myself, it’s only since I’ve discovered my own aphantasia that I’ve come to realise just how profoundly visual some clients are. I’ve always been careful to pay attention to how visual clients are, and using that in my work. If they use visual language and imagery and respond to visual language, I use more of it. But I don’t think I’d really ‘got’ how different their experiences are from my own. And it’s helped me understand why some therapies, that invoke visual imagery (the Swish pattern, for example) just don’t resonate with me and why they do work so well for some clients. Incidentally, I’ve noticed that not surprisingly a high degree of visual imagery ability is associated with certain professions, such as grpahic designers and (usually though interestingly not always) architects. I wonder if much work has been done on correlating visual imagery ability with professions and artistic callings? For example it’s no coincidence that James Joyce, who had such dreadful eye problems, doesn’t use a lot of visual imagery in his work.

  • I’ll never be able to untangle which of my life experiences were traumatic because of Aphantasia, and some of those traumas we’re a direct result of Aphantasia. I just get to know I’ve got trauma. No way to effectively work through it unless new techniques are developed.
  • I grieve differently than those with a minds eye. I’ll never be able to see those who’ve passed away, except in photos.
  • I’ll need unique strategies for a lot of things if I want to grow as a person, much like someone who has no sight. Planning for the future is a hell of a thing if you can’t picture yourself beyond today, for example.
  • I’ll probably be obsessed with trying to jump start my minds eye until the day I die.
  • And, it’s a uniquely difficult disability since it is not visible to the world. Like PTSD, you can look fine and no one will ever know. So, it’s a very lonely disability to have.

Hi, thanks for the article.  I didn’t just recently discover that I have aphantasia.  I’ve been trying to talk to people, including psychotherapists, about this for a few decades.  It’s hard!

I realize that my way of connecting with this world, and with other people, is very diminished compared with neuro-normal people, because  they seem to evoke mental experiences among each other, and I cannot participate in this connection.  I’ve been depressed for decades, I think because of this lack of connectibility with other people.    I spent decades trying to talk to psychotherapists.  It has been such a disappointment. It seems like therapists have a toolbox full of tools that employ memory and imagination, and when your brain doesn’t match their toolbox, they can’t help you.  I’ve described my lack of sensory cognition to numerous therapists, whose consistent response has been, well I’ve never heard of anything like this, so I can’t help you….  Except for the last therapist that I tried about ten years ago.  She actually took the time to hear me and grasped about what I was saying about my cognitive experience, and she started crying because she was an empathetic person.  I had to comfort her.

Bottom line:  I would really like to be able to talk to a therapist about what it is like to live in a such a limited way cognitively among neuro-normal humans.  How can I locate a therapist who would be able to disengage from their traditional toolbox and actually talk to me about my personal experience?