The Looking Glass Technique

Client Engagement / Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / Staff Training

The Looking Glass Technique

The Looking Glass Technique is a neuroscience, cognitive, and behavioral, based, technique, used as an adjunctive tool. As such, it can be used with any type of psychosocial or psychotropic interventions


The following are some concrete steps to follow to practice this simple yet powerful technique:

  1. I stand in front of a mirror

  2. I look myself in the eyes

  3. I say my name

  4. I say, “I love you,”

  5. I do steps 3 and 4 a total of three times

  6. I repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 and replace “I love you” with “I  forgive you.”

  7. I repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 and replace “I love you” with “I  am committed to you.”

Rationale for the technique:

  1. Thousands of studies in neuroscience, cognitive, and behavioral, science, reliably reveal a close link between our belief systems, our feelings, and our behaviors

  2. Our beliefs about ourselves, about our past and others, about the world and the future, hugely determine how we feel, and how we behave, most of the time

  3. Any intervention that does not address these types of beliefs will likely limit the effectiveness of other types of interventions

  4. Individuals have a tool that they can perform at any time, anywhere, with expected results.

Indication: The Looking Glass Technique can be tailored to the individual and/or based on a specific symptom, and/or condition, including symptoms of depression; trauma-related symptoms; reports of feeling empty, stuck, “not enough,” etc.

Increase In:

  1. Self-love;

  2. Self-forgiveness;

  3. Self-image;

  4. Self-esteem;

  5. Self-confidence/self-efficacy

Risks: This exercise may bring up lots of suppressed or repressed emotions, which can then be expressed in the form of:

  1. Tearfulness;

  2. Transient sadness;

  3. Transient discomfort

    The presence of a clinician is strongly recommended at the first time of doing this exercise.


  1. After I say my name, I wait for 3 seconds before I say, “I love you,” or “I forgive you” or “I am committed to you.”

  2. After each sentence, I wait for 3 seconds before I move on to the next one

  3. While waiting for three seconds, I pay attention to how I am feeling, including to how I am feeling in my body.

  4. When performed for the first time, other possible responses may be, “it feels silly,”  “It feels awkward,”  “It feels childish.”  These are normal defensive based responses. As such the individual is to continue with the exercise, reminding himsef/herself he/she has not much to lose, and it may be worth giving it a try. This is true for most interventions in CBT, MCBT, DBT, MDBT, ACT, or any other evidence-based interventions. Bottom line, simplicity may be deceiving.

How to Introduce the Looking Glass Technique:

There are several ways and the following is only one of them. C=Clinician; Ind=Individual

C: Loving oneself is something that some pay attention to while others do not… Now, I have a question regarding just that…: Please tell me the last time you said “I love you” to yourself

Ind: I don’t know/It’s been a long time/I don’t remember when/I never have/This sounds weird-I didn’t know I had to say, “I love you” to myself.

C: Tell me what would happen if you were to tell yourself: “I love you.”

Ind: Oh, I don’t know/That would sound weird/who knows

C: Please tell me what it would take for you to say to yourself, “I love you.”

Ind: Well, I can try to say that, “I love you.”

C: Great. Tell me if you’d like to try this again…, addressing yourself

C: Wonderful, now one more time….

C: Nice, what about saying your name before you say, “I love you” to yourself

Ind: Sure. “Elizabeth, I love you.”

C: Perfect, how about saying it three times, starting with your name, followed by “I love you.”

C: Tell me how it would feel like if you said your name, wait for 3 seconds before you say, “I love you,” and then wait for three seconds again before you repeat the cycle.

Ind: Sure. That’s fine. I can do that.

C: Great. Thank you. Now tell me how everything feels so far.

C: Tell me what it would feel like if you were to do this in front of a mirror, looking yourself in the eyes, as you did exactly that, your name, then 3 seconds, then “I love you,” then 3 seconds, and then restart the cycle up to three times?

Ind: Well, I can try

C: Perfect. Thank you for that. Now, tell me how often you’d like to do this during the day

Ind: I don’t know. How often should I do that?

C: Great question, Elizabeth. For the best possible answer for you, let’s take a deeper look at the situation. Tell me which parts of the day would you most likely like to do that?

Ind: Well, perhaps, in the morning, when I am getting ready for work. I think that might be a good time. Who knows.

C: Perfect. I think so too. So, you’d be able to start doing that in the morning while getting ready for work. Tell me what other parts during the day.

Ind: Well, I think that’s it for now.

C: That sounds optimal, Elizabeth. For now, indeed, once a day, in the morning, while getting ready for work may sound ideal. Great. Now, tell me what possible barriers do you anticipate that may get in your way to doing this in the morning?

Ind: Well, I am going to do it, as I said, and I’ll take it from there

C: That sounds perfect, Elizabeth. Looking forward to hearing about it all next week. Please let me know what questions you have for me before you leave.

Ind: Nope, I’m good. Thanks so much. And see you next week.

C: See you next week.


  1. Elizabeth was not introduced to all the steps. This is in the spirit of meeting her where she was at, ensuring she would be not overwhelmed, and taking things one step at a time with her

  2. Elizabeth was not told, “Hey, this is the best technique for you. Go and do this. Here’s how it works. Just do it and report next week.”  We now know this approach precludes adherence and success when working with individuals

  3. When Elizabeth returns the following week, we will see how things went with her, and then use the same approach to introduce her to the next step of the exercise. Re: I forgive you.” “I am committed to you.”

  4. The clinician will find different possible responses and challenges from different individuals. We will be going over how to best address each one of them.

The SWEET Institute is determined to change how patients and clients are cared for, to change how continuing education/CEU is being conducted, and to be the place for all clinicians.

If you stand for any one of the above, we invite you to join us and help heal the world through an increase in awareness, through a shift in belief systems, and through a different type of education-one that empowers us all and leads us to fulfillment and self-actualization.

We look forward to welcoming, working with, and serving, you.

With love,
Karen and Mardoche