Using image for Self-reflection

Published on October 11, 2021

How are you doing?

How do you feel about this situation?

How do you feel about him/her?

What makes you choose this and not that?

How often do we hear these questions? And how easy for you to respond to these questions?

At times, we feel stuck, block, unclear or unsure about how we feel about something or someone. For some of us, processing our feelings through words and writing is easy-peasy. We can express our feelings easily by writing a post, a blog, or a poem. But, for the rest of us, not only expressing our feelings are difficult but also understanding what’s going on within us is a challenging task. So, for us in the latter group, what can we do?

Remember the saying, “A Picture represents a Thousand Words”?

Then, how about using image(s) to help us?

Since back in the stone age, before words were formed, people use images to communicate. Some studies (Geary, 2012; Siegel, 2007) found that images can be used as a healing tool. Sigmund Freud regarded images as his valuable tools and Carl Jung developed an approach that used images as the explanatory and healing tools (Faranda, 2014). Two of the more popular psychological tests that use images are The Rorschach Test (Inkblot images) and Thematic Apperception Test (Picture Interpretation Technique). These two tests are used to explore and assess someone’s perceptions or views to have a better understanding of their beliefs, values, conflicts, and motivations (Dore, 2017).

Besides images found through various media, a simple tarot deck that shows the image of humans and their interaction in different settings can be a tool to help us in our self-reflection. In 2004, Hofer found that using images on the tarot cards is an effective way to obtain self-knowledge and insight (Hofer, 2004). 

You may have many questions by now. 

How can I do it?

You can do it by following the steps below

Which image to choose?

You can find any image that catches your attention when you are thinking of your situation.

If I use an image from a Tarot deck, do I need to have 6th sense to understand the image? Do I need to learn about the Tarot?

No, you don't need to have 6th sense or learn the original meaning of each card in the Tarot deck.

Isn’t Tarot for Divination? 

If you want, you can use an image from a Tarot deck as a self-reflective tool and not as a divination tool. 

So, how can I start doing this?

  1. Find image(s) that catch your attention when you are thinking of your situation. You can find the image(s) by browsing the media (google, IG, Tumblr, etc), take photos, draw the image which appears in your mind, or browse the Tarot deck to choose the image(s). Try to limit up to 3 images. The more images, the more complicated they will be. 
  2. Take a look at the individual image and try asking these 7 questions on each image. You might want to write down the answers for your reference.
    • What’s the first thing that captures my attention on this image?
    • What makes it looks special to me?
    • What does it mean to me? 
    • Any other things (colour, shapes, etc.) that catch my attention?
    • Do any memories or thoughts arise from this image?
    • If the image can speak to me, what does it try to tell me?
    • How does it relate to my current situation?
  3. If you have more than 1 image, repeat the same 7 questions to the other images. 
  4. Once you are done with the image(s), take a look at the answers on your notes. 
  5. Find the similarities of your answers.
  6. Use the similarities and try to apply them to your situation. Don’t forget to be honest with yourself.

Hopefully, after completing all the steps, you can have a better understanding of your beliefs, values, and conflicts in this particular situation, and get unstuck.

You can also try exploring the connection and the story the image(s) is trying to tell you.

If you are curious to find out how to use the image(s) for other issues (e.g. fear, worry, etc.), feel free to contact me, and we can journey together.


Dore, J. (2017, September 2). Using Tarot in Psychotherapy. PsychCentral.

Faranda, F. (2014). Working With Images in Psychotherapy: An Embodied Experience of Play and Metaphor. Journal of Psychoterapy Integration, 24(1). DOI:10.1037/a0035967

Geary, J. (2012). I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World. New York: Harper Collins

Hofer, G. (2004). Tarot Cards: An Investigation of their Benefit as a Tool for Self-Reflection. [Master thesis, Concordia University]. University of Victoria Research and Learning Repository.

Siegel, D. (2007). The Mindful Brain.  New York: Norton.

Category(s):Life Purpose / Meaning / Inner-Guidance

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