Strengthening resilience with the Imagery Toolbox

In cases of cancer, chronic illness and crisis. How does it work?

The imagination is a realm in which we find our inner resources which we can draw upon to fortify ourselves. Everyone possesses this innate, self-reinforcing ability. 

The Imagery Toolbox contains some excellent ‘tools’ which can help us to do just this. These take the form of  simple exercises, suggestions and materials which can provide you with the means to use your imaginative resources to increase your power and resilience in difficult times of illness or crisis and recovery.

By getting to work on the imagery exercises and mobilizing your own creativity you will start to use your own self-reinforcing abilities to complement the medical care you may be receiving. In this way you can do a great deal to enhance your own emotional equilibrium, your sense of wellbeing and your ability to rest and to take pleasure in life. What is so special about the imagination is the space which it creates for what is really happening within you and also for what you really need or long for.

Everyone has a self- empowering capability. That the imagination can play a very important role here is increasingly confirmed by the stream of scientific findings in neuropsychology made within the last two decades.

How the Imagery Toolbox started

The Imagery Toolbox is the initiative of healthcare psychologist Jan Taal, Drs. In 1978 he started using imagery and imaginative creativity to help people suffering from cancer and other chronic illnesses.  It soon became clear that these techniques were helping people significantly in the  the processes of illness and recovery and over the years their application has become increasingly sophisticated and extensive. More about Jan Taal.

In 1997 Jan and his colleagues set up the foundation Kanker in Beeld (Cancer in Images);  this has led to the growth of a large national network of art studios, choirs and other creative activities.

In 2008, after 30 years of rich experience in the use of imagery techniques with people dealing with cancer, chronic illness and crisis, Jan, together with a number of colleagues, decided to create an accessible instrument that could be used within the healthcare sector, thereby making the imagery techniques available to a wider public. Their motivation was that over the years it had become apparent that even simple imagery and exercises had been able to offer real benefit to so many people during or following times of illness or crisis as well as during and following medical treatment. So the idea of an imagery toolbox was born- an instrument which would gain a permanent place within ‘mainstream’ healthcare.

In 2009 the first pilot edition was published, the second edition followed in 2012 and the third Imagery Toolbox 3.0 appeared in 2017, including an English version of this latest edition.

The application of the Imagery Toolbox 3.0 has been facilitated by collaboration with many organizations including the Foundation Kanker in Beeld (Cancer in Images), Medical Centers, Cancer Care Centre and Walk-in centers (Maggie’s Centers), IPSO, Care for Cancer and hospices throughout the Netherlands.

Scientific research is conducted in collaboration with the University for Humanistic Studies, The University of Groningen and Twente University.

You can read all and everything about the toolbox in the Course Book. Get your free download.

You can also read Coping with cancer through imagery and artistic expression by Jan Taal.