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Bugs

I've been bugged.

For weeks, computer work made me feel really sick. An itchy, creepy feeling on my skin. I couldn't sit still. Nausea.

I wanted it gone. I had to work. But like a mosquito, it wouldn’t leave me alone. I swatted at it with the Pomodoro technique, with exercise, with a weekend off.

Nothing helped.



This bug and I needed to talk.

So, I drew the best bug doodle I could manage. I asked the picture, “What’s your name?”

“Nigel”, it said. But that was all I got.

Nigel and I ogled each other in silence for a few days while I pushed through.





What exactly are these creatures, these psychological bugs that plague us?

Images. I call them images.

That’s why this work is called Imaginal Therapy.


Like bugs, our images can become pests when something is out of balance. Or when they are trapped and can’t get free.

You can try to exterminate them. Or you can return them to the wild.


Images have habitats and relationships. They live in hives of meaning that are essential to our psychic ecosystems.


Ignore them and they metastasise. Care for them and they metamorphose into butterflies.



Nigel didn’t trust me enough to tell me what he wanted right off the bat. I had to win him over. So I became him. I let the sick feeling wash through me. I creeped and itched. I crawled and hopped. I even buzzed.

Pretty soon after that, Nigel started to speak. No, not speak. Write. And he wouldn’t stop.

As I set Nigel free, I found myself back at my computer.

I wrote for 12 hours. My body ached, yes, but the pain was insignificant. Nigel didn’t want to get away from my computer. He didn’t want more “work-life balance”. He was just sick of watching me write words without meaning. This bug had some things to say.


Most of us are trying to keep our bugs at bay. We’re plagued and we struggle just to get through a day without succumbing to the itches and aches that make life so hard.

The thing is, if I’d exterminated Nigel, I would never have known what he wanted from me.

For me, a therapy room is an art studio where we restore the aesthetic of our troubled stories. Sometimes, it's a dojo where we practise the martial art of imaginal intelligence.

But it is also an insect sanctuary. We rescue stray bugs, rehabilitate and rewild them.

What are your bugs at the moment?

Here’s something to try.



Practice tip:

How to catch a bug


  1. Grab a pen and paper.

  2. Sit quietly for two minutes with your eyes closed. Focus on your breath.

  3. After two minutes, ask yourself, “What thought distracted me most?

  4. Make a doodle on the page to express that distracting thought. It can be an abstract scribble or a picture. It doesn’t matter. Just make a mark for the thought.

  5. There is your bug.

  6. Add a label. Give the bug a name. Something like “Worry About Money” or “Mother’s Nasty Comment”.

Now bring your bug to a session.

Let's help its metamorphosis.




Artwork by Fernando Falcone, Allesandra Maria and Lorenz Frolich. Images linked to source.



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