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The use of metaphor in Psychotherapy

The use of metaphor in Psychotherapy

This presentation will explores ‘the how, why and what’ of metaphor.  Both the therapist’s and the client’s experience of metaphor will be explored. The presenter believes that the respectful, challenging and culturally specific use of metaphor is an essential element in the client/practitioner discourse. A therapeutic relationship using metaphor potentially facilitates a mutual sense of evolving empathy; both parties can now explore deeper, often unconscious experiences and processes, in this new, emerging and expanded space of understanding. This metaphoric dialogue potentially offers both client and practitioner the opportunity for meaningful change. Metaphor often emerges out of a momentary and spontaneous experience. This notion compares to the more traditional notion of the client, or practitioner, offering older ‘known’ interpretative metaphors. 

Through an exploration of transforming metaphors, the opportunity for use of the "narrow and/or wide angle lens" can enhance the meta-cognitive processes that can result in new understandings. There often also exists a competing metaphor that may also enable a deeper understanding of the ‘resistance’ that is present for either or both persons in this dialogical discourse. In addition to evaluating more traditional applications of metaphors that emerge out of an individual’s or client’s unique narrative, this presentation will include the exploration of metaphors as they apply to Couples and Family Therapy. Clinical examples will also illustrate that the therapeutic relevance of metaphor is a process that is not confined to the linguistic.

Areas of Interest / Categories: Psychotherapy, WCP 2011

WCP 2011

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