social icons graphic

Introduction to Metaphor

Introduction to Metaphor

Deriving from Greek roots and meaning, literally, to “carry over”, metaphor involves describing or explaining something in terms of something else. Erickson is the generally recognised master of metaphorical suggestion in hypno-psychotherapy relaying personal experiences, anecdotes, life-situations and case studies to his clients. His approach has been extended by hypno-psychotherapists such as Rosen (1982) -presenting a fascinating compendium of-Erickson’s case vignettes – Lankton & Lankton (1989)and Havens & Walters (1991) – who design metaphors for specific presenting issues – and Greenleaf (1996), who frequently appears to “out-Erickson” Erickson himself.

To illustrate the Ericksonian use of therapeutic metaphor, clients may be invited, subtly, to reflect upon their difficulties as part of a journey, smooth seas never having made an expert sailor. Distraction from discomfort may covertly be elicited by the Ericksonian hypno-psychotherapist casually mentioning everyday experiences involving habituation: not noticing the glasses on the bridge of your nose, nor the weight of your feet on the floor, nor the noisy clock  ticking five minutes after you enter the room. Trying too hard to be successfully prevented through implicit parallels with the evident relaxation of the world’s best sprinters in action or the absence of effort characterised by the professional golfer or tennis player “in the zone” . Panicky clients may be discouraged from reacting to their own reaction by viewing panic as an itch better alone rather than scratched. Addicted clients may, similarly, be urged to “stop feeding the monster”.

Such shorthand comparisons may be dressed up, and further debarred from counterproductive conscious processing, in full-blown stories.

Recent Posts