I had a client a while ago who was struggling to get clear on a new direction for her life. We had done a number of exercises, discussed options and played with possibilities, but she was still stuck. I suggested to her that she try to do a collage, finding and arranging images and words together on a page.

Two weeks later she returned, with a photo of her finished collage. She had divided it into four quadrants, each on a part of her present life, with the fourth headlined by the words ‘North Star’ and ‘Leap of Faith’.

For her, this meant a realisation that she couldn’t make change by talking about it, but only by taking actions, maybe small at first, maybe some experiments or trial experiences, but actions nonetheless. The collage process had helped her bypass the logical (and in her case, cautious) part of her brain in order to tap into her imagination and create a compelling image of two possible futures – one if she kept on doing what she was doing, and the other if she took her leap of faith and headed in the direction of her north star.

Collage is a particularly powerful technique for creating a clear picture of your vision and starting to make it real. It taps into the power of both the left (verbal, linear, logical and rational ) and right (holistic, visual, big picture, spatial) sides of the brain. By collecting images that you are drawn to, and arranging them on paper you get a picture of your goals or dreams, a storyboard or blueprint of whatever it is that you want to create in the world.

What if you think you’re not the collage type, that this form of creative expression is not your thing? I have found that some of the best results come from people who are not naturals at this, probably because they have no choice but to take a fresh approach to it all – my favourite example was a builder who did one of my group programs. When I introduced collage as our next group exercise, he looked at me as if I had suggested he leap up and dance Swan Lake…but he (reluctantly) agreed to give it a go. By the end of the night, he cornered me to quietly ask if he could take some of the magazines and the glue home to keep working on his creation – and the end result changed his life.

So, will you give collage a go?

Joanna Maxwell


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