Imagine YOU®… as you want to be

What if we asked those we serve, “What matters most to you?”


Imagine your happiest and healthiest self.

We believe that this simple exercise is the crucial first step in getting on the right track toward better health.

The Imagine YOU® method guides you through the process of visualizing why health matters to you, and translating that mental image onto paper to create what we call your Image of Health. This image represents how you feel about being healthy and ready to do what you want to do. Instead of thinking about what you "should" be doing for your health – what others may tell you to do – we encourage you to identify what motivates you on a personal level.
Sonoma County significantly exceeds California averages for cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, unintentional injuries, suicide and chronic liver disease deaths. Guilt, stress, depression and tough personal circumstances can be overwhelming and prevent people from taking small steps that cumulatively build up to better health. By viewing their health and life through the lens of what is deeply important to them, they are better able to overcome these barriers. When people focus on what matters most to them and work towards small, powerful, close-at-hand goals, they are able to form new habits to support their health.
Imagine YOU®, created and developed by Ellen Barnett, MD, PhD, turns the idea of motivation and willpower upside down by asking people why they want better health in the first place. In over 30 years working as a family physician, Dr. Barnett has found that rather than focusing on health goals from a disease or diagnosis perspective, it is essential to identify each individual's personal health goals in order to pinpoint and leverage their most pertinent source of motivation to move toward making healthier choices.
The Imagine YOU method is grounded in three basic principles supported by research in medicine, cognitive psychology, and education:
  1. Visualization and kinesthetic experience helps identify true motivation.
  2. Creating specific, short-term goals leads to success.
  3. Successful small steps lead to increased self-efficacy.

Project Outcomes to Date

Imagine YOU is being used with a wide variety of audiences including at-risk youth, homeless populations, youth transitioning out of foster care, cancer survivorship groups, medical clinics, senior groups, wellness programs, and more. To date, over 900 individuals across the age and economic spectrum in Sonoma County have created an Image of Health and are using it to guide their daily choices. Read Testimonials from workshop participants, IY Leaders, and other leading voices in our community. Meet one of our youth participants.

Get Involved

Imagine YOU is led by a certified Imagine YOU Leader in a group workshop setting or in a 1:1 conversation. Learn more about becoming a certified Imagine YOU Leader. Interested in bringing Imagine YOU to your community or organization? Read more about requesting a workshop. Help us further our mission by donating here. Imagine YOU is a program of the Integrative Medical Clinic Foundation (IMCF). IMCF is spearheading the What Matters Most awareness building effort in Sonoma County, which aims to shift the conversation in healthcare from "What's the matter?" to "What matters to you?" Read more about IMCF's involvement in this effort here.
“I found myself thinking about my own vision of my own health, ‘my own vision’ being the key words. If I were living life in the best way possible according to me, what would my life look like? I came up with a vision for myself that was so motivating, I took action toward new health practices that I had put off for years.”
Nick Lawrence, Program Manager, Foster Care and Kinship Education, Santa Rosa Junior College