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The Rationale Behind Metaphor in Therapy

The Rationale Behind Metaphor in Therapy

The rationale behind metaphor in therapy is at least one step removed from the client’s conscious focus of an intervention and, thus, is a potential avenue for bypassing resistance. According to Zeig( 1980), a metaphorical approach ought to be employed in direct proportion to the degree of client resistance perceived or anticipated by the hypno-psychotherapist. Whereas direct suggestion can often meet resistance, suggestions interspersed away from the client’s focus of attention may be more effective.

To present metaphor in particularly credible light, successful psychotherapy cases have been demonstrated to be more likely than unsuccessful cases to include metaphorical treatment of central therapeutic themes (McMullen, 1989). Metaphor is portrayed as a vehicle which in itself can cross the boundary between conscious and unconscious  processes( Brown, 1991). It is also a suitable way of envisioning and encapsulating a scenario with many variable and interacting causes, which may well typify a hypno-psychotherapy client’s situation (Towsend,1988; Evans, 1988). According to Bateson & Bateson( 1987), moreover, metaphor is the psychological equivalent of biological information transduction. Metaphor is the language of the unconscious and as such is the prefect rational behind metaphor in therapy.

In addition to circumventing client resistance, metaphorical suggestion has many functions. It can be, in itself, trance inducing. It communicates ideas persuasively, It stimulates clients’ creativity. It suggests solutions to problems and new possibilities. It evokes and recontexualises resources perhaps overlooked. It permits identification without potentially threatening ownership. It aids understanding of new experiences in terms of existing knowledge. It may create gentle confusion, further promoting hypnotic responsiveness. It “tags” the memory. It removes stigma where parallel cases are relayed to the client. Outside of the-hypnotic session itself, it may allow the hypno-psychotherapist to regain the floor and direct the discussion, which may be-useful with over-talkative clients. Metaphorical suggestion encourages clients’ own individual responses and creativity rather than prescribing an externally imposed solution (Zeig,1980) and may facilitate the “ripple effect” frequently characteristic of hypno-psychotherapy(Spiegel& Spiegel, 1978). This is the rationale behind metaphor in therapy.

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