Dear Patti,

Approximately a month ago I applied for what I consider my dream job, even though I knew I was underqualified. Although I’d been in this business for over 10 years and had more than enough experience and training, I didn’t have the academic qualifications. Typically, this profession requires a master’s degree and I only have a high school education. Miraculously, I was able to show my knowledge and ability during the interview and was hired.

I can’t express how thrilled I am to get this wonderful opportunity, but I start working next Monday and am scared. I know I’ll do well, but I can’t help but think up scary scenarios where I fail.

Do you have guided imagery exercises that might help me be more positive?

  — John

Dear John, 

As someone licensed in clinical hypnotherapy, I’ve shared a wide variety of guided imageries, depending on my patients’ individual needs. Here are two examples you might like to try.

1. Go to your bedroom at a time you’ll be uninterrupted and have privacy. Get comfortable, lie down, close your eyes, breathe in and out slowly and deeply and let your body completely relax. First relax your feet and legs, next relax your torso, then your arms and hands and, lastly, relax your neck and head. Let your limp body sink and fall deeper and deeper into the bed, totally stress-free. As your body descends into the bed, picture yourself floating up into the air and hovering way above in the sky. Picture flying high to your place of work. Look down and observe the block on which your new office building is located. Is there a palm tree or telephone pole nearby? Imagine resting there as you gaze down and see the roof of the building being lifted away, allowing you to see into the rooms at your office. Look down in your workplace and envision exactly how you want it to be. Below you is the place where you’ll be spending many hours of your life. See yourself working there. How does it feel?  Envision yourself as confident and capable and experience how good that feels. Contemplate what progressive changes need to be made. See yourself making a productive difference. Experience feelings such as peace and happiness. Hear sounds you want to hear, such as harmonious conversations. When you’re finished, see the roof come back. Focus your attention on the present. Bring yourself back into the bedroom and back into your body. Open your eyes, refreshed and ready to take on the new world to come.

2. Lie down, stretch out, close your eyes and focus on your body. Let all tension gently leave your body. Each time you breathe, you become more and more relaxed. Count backwards from 10 down to one. Ten … relax. Nine … more and more relaxed. Eight … deeper and deeper relaxed. Seven … breathe deeper and deeper, and so on. Each time you breathe, you become more relaxed. Count backwards again two more times. Now that you’re completely comfortable and relaxed, imagine your three favorite colors combined with gold and silver to make a wonderfully fluid healing energy that slowly comes up through your feet and into the rest of your body. Picture yourself in the most beautiful room you can imagine. Your wise inner self has something to show you. Look around and see the floor, the walls, the ceiling. See all the furniture around you. In the corner of the room, you’ll see a beautiful desk. On that desk are two objects: a DVD player with a monitor and a book. First, put your attention on the DVD player. Push the “play” button and a video will show you various times in your life where you were competent, capable and gained the experience necessary to do your future job. It doesn’t matter whether these images are in black and white or color; whatever comes up is fine. Watch the video until it’s done. Now, open the book. Within its pages there will be wise, inspiring and important information about yourself for you to read. Read it. After you’re finished, return to the present and open your eyes, feeling revitalized with new knowledge about yourself and ready to start another chapter in your life. n

Patti Carmalt-Vener, a faculty member with the Southern California Society for Intensive Short Term Psychotherapy, has been a psychotherapist in private practice for 23 years and has offices in Pasadena, Santa Monica and Canoga Park. Contact her at (626) 584-8582 or email Visit her website,