Expressive Arts Visioning with Vision Boards

heart vision board collage“When you wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who you are.
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you.”

“When You Wish Upon a Star” is a song written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney’s 1940 adaptation of Pinocchio.

Over the past few years a relatively new tool has changed how people manage their own destinies. The tool, called a vision board, is created to represent in a visual manner what a person wants in life. The practice suggests that visualization can lead to the realization of goals. This is a helpful and therapeutic technique for people as they work on goal-oriented outcomes.

Vision boards are collages of images, photographs, and phrases glued or taped to a surface like a poster board. Your selection of items on your board typically represents the dreams you want to materialize in your life. The idea behind the board stems from the reasonable hypothesis that positive thinking leads to a positive outcome. Positive thinking is one result, but the process of creating an inspiring vision and working toward it creates the energetic vibration to manifest it.

We all can agree that a positive outlook is a precursor to positive results in one’s life, but how exactly can the imagery you choose on your board make things happen? The premise of this increasingly popular tool suggests that if you glue a picture of your favorite house from a magazine onto your vision board, you will enable the dream or fantasy to become a future reality. Your vision can be anything from a house to a new car, or something of a more personal nature like fostering a new relationship. All things on the board are what you want or what you are passionate about.

The vision board speaks to the fundamental principles of the Law of Attraction. The basic tenet offered by the Law of Attraction is that a person can attract anything into their lives by “being” more of the emotional vibration they wish to have. By choosing images or phrases the person can begin igniting their emotions with a passion that will lead inevitably to the manifestation of those things they desire.

When working with clients, this can support them to focus on the positive emotions associated with those images. Therapists will inevitability have opportunities to work with whatever resistances come up and support people to work through them. Emotional Freedom Technique is one such method for working with resistance within the Law of Attraction principles.

The vision board has been popularized in recent years by the enormously successful publication of the book The Secret. The Secret, a best seller from 2006, is a self-help book written by Rhonda Byrne. The book is based on a film of the same name. Both the book and the film promote the Law of Attraction and the power of positive thinking. As the official website of The Secret states on its home page, “Everything is possible, nothing is impossible.” In the actual film, success expert John Assaraf tells his story of using vision boards to realize his dreams.

Its proponents from the self-help field have embraced the tool. Christine Bagley-Jones, a psychologist from Brisbane, sees vision boards as a motivational tool. “It’s not like the vision board itself has some magical properties. But it helps to create a platform for the individual to identify and conceptualize what they most want in life, and through their actions they can then manifest it.”

The tool has been adopted by a variety of disciplines in the self-help field, including art therapy. Advocates insist vision boards can help people build self-esteem, teach goal setting and prioritizing, and make individuals more proactive.

Carolyn Mehlomakulu, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Registered Art Therapist, states on her Creativity in Therapy blog, “Through the process of choosing my images, I was able to clarify my goals and hopes, think about what I consider truly important in my life, open my mind to the possibility of having the life and business that I want, and inspire myself to keep moving forward.”

I also have a vision board that I’m always working on. It supports what I believe in, what I want to manifest in my life, and primarily how I want to feel. I also notice that my vision board has things on it that I don’t want on it—things I’m not interested in attracting: reminders, a phone list, a business card, etc. Note to self: keep your vision board clean of distractions! As you grow so will your vision board change and grow with you.

Not everyone is into the joy of creating their own vision boards. There are detractors who see the practice of using boards as counterproductive. Some argue that people who use vision boards spend too much time in the fantasy and not enough time establishing a realistic plan to achieve them. Troubled by the reliance on the cultural forced feedings of positivity, some thinkers see the energy in this area of thought as a waste of time.

Barbara Ehrenreich, a much respected writer, states, “Besides, the constant effort of maintaining optimism in the face of considerable counterevidence is just too damn much work. Optimism training, affirmations, and related forms of self-hypnosis are a burden that we can finally, in good conscience, set down. They won’t make you richer or healthier, and, as we should have learned by now, they can easily put you in harm’s way. The threats that we face, individually and collectively, won’t be solved by wishful thinking but by a clear-eyed commitment to taking action in the world.” Hard work has to be an integral part of the vision. Accepting the possibility of failure is equally important as it teaches significant life lessons.

It is how you use the board that matters. Working with resistances, enjoying the dream, and taking action are all part of the vision board process. It is clear that vision boards are valid tools with therapeutic value to a great many people. Equally apparent are the critics who claim users are only setting themselves up for failure if their vision boards become wallpaper.

The real answer lies more likely somewhere in between the opposing arguments. No one should ever tell anyone not to dream. Just remember there’s always some sweat and tears. The vision board is an expressive tool to support your “being” attractive in attracting the things you most desire.

I’ll leave you with this final quote from Bob Doyle:

“The sooner you can move from ‘trying to be’ to actually ‘being,’ the sooner you will see your desire fulfilled.”


  1. Loo, Tristan.How to Use a Vision Board to Activate the Law of Attraction. Retrieved from: Retrieved on: 19/04/2014.
  2. Byrne, Rhonda. The Secret. Retrieved from: Retrieved on: 22/04/2014.
  3. Doyle, B. (2011). “Follow Your Passion, Find Your Power.” Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company.
  4. Body and Soul website. Why You Need a Vision Board.,29981. Retrieved on: 22/04/2014.
  5. Mehlomakulu, Carolyn. Realizing the Future—Creating a Vision Board. Retrieved from: Retrieved on: 21/04/2014.

© Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Douglas Mitchell, LMFT

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Dora

    May 12th, 2014 at 3:08 PM

    I love the idea of the vision board!
    Now I know what the kids and I will be doing this weekend, if not for therapy at least for centering ourselves and being oopen and expressive with our wishes for the future.

  • Sonja

    May 13th, 2014 at 3:37 AM

    I am not sure that the board creation is the most important part of this for me as I have never been that good at art or haven’t really been that interested in it. But with that being said what I am interested in is the thought that goes along with this that we are better able toat tract the good things into our lives that we want when we actuallypr oject that into our own lives and onto other people. I am not saying that we can will things to happen, but in some small ways I think that you can. We create the life that we want whether we understand or recognize that. Life is not always just sheer luck, it is about what we make it. This gave me the spark I needed, plabted that little seed there that if I want positive things to happen, then I am in control of that, and well, I have to make it happen.

  • lawson

    May 14th, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    again another way that using art as a form of treatment can be beneficial to everyone who is experiencing issues in their lives that need to be resolved

  • Virginia F

    May 15th, 2014 at 3:47 AM

    I know that the vision boards could be really helpful for some, but what I took away from this is how important that it is to think positive. Positive things happen to and for positive people. That is the mindset that you have to live if you want good things to come your way. If you need a visual to keep you in check and keep you focused on what you would like for the end result to be then I think that the vision board can be a great way to keep you on task.

  • Carol Carrino

    May 21st, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    envisioning the desired goal & using symbols for the future positve outcome/experience encourages the energy & stamina needed to make the dream manifested. The artwork serves as a visuals reminder & reinforces the sustanence of the goal.

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