Functional Imagery Training (FIT)

The hardest thing about changing lifestyle habits is staying motivated.

Often, people do not do what their doctors or physiotherapists feel is best for them, even if they agree it is a good idea, because they find it so hard to stay motivated.

FIT is a new way of supporting behaviour change by strengthening motivation.


What is FIT?

Functional Imagery Training (FIT) is a unique approach to behaviour change that uses mental imagery to motivate change. FIT teaches people new ways of thinking about their immediate future to help them stay motivated as they achieve each small step towards their goal. Users have described FIT as a ‘mindset shift’, where they exercised or ate healthily because they wanted to, rather than feeling they had to.

How does it work?

FIT is based on two decades of research showing that mental imagery is more strongly emotionally charged than other types of thought. Mental imagery is what gives drug cravings their dominance over other thoughts, but it can also be what makes us work successfully towards a new goal despite obstacles. FIT blends person-centred counselling with tailored imagery exercises to strengthen motivation. It builds desire and self-efficacy for behaviours that will help the individual reach their goal. 

Staying motivated

FIT goes beyond other brief motivational interventions by teaching clients how to elicit and practice motivational imagery themselves, resulting in sustained behaviour change. Everyday behaviours are used to cue imagery practice until it becomes a cognitive habit.

When can it be applied?

FIT is applicable to a wide range of conditions. Published research has shown it helps people develop healthy eating habits and lose weight, improves resilience and grit in athletes, and reduces self-harming in young adults.

Who can use FIT?

FIT is delivered by healthcare practitioners and coaches with person-centred counselling skills. If you work in the area of behaviour change and would like to become a FIT practitioner, please contact us to find out more about training.

How can I get FIT?

To volunteer for our current research on FIT, please contact:

Sarah Greene (weight loss)

Despina Djama (stress and resilience)

The team

FIT has been developed by researchers at the University of Plymouth and Queensland University of Technology. It is based on a theory called Elaborated Intrusion theory that explains the key role of mental imagery in desire. 

Please follow the links below for more information and links to published papers on FIT and Elaborated Intrusion theory.

Development of FIT has been possible thanks to our funding partners  NHMRC, QUT and NIHR.