The Use of Metaphor

The Use of Metaphor in Psychology Introduction When a client enters the therapeutic process they are inundated with emotions and thought patterns that are often negative. The therapist must help the client move past these patterns because they often create road blocks that stop the client from moving forward. Milton Erikson saw that clients could move past their patterns by getting past their conscious minds. Erikson knew that the conscious mind held onto patterns that were difficult to break (Gordon par. 10). The therapist’s job was to move them through these patterns. In order do to this, the therapist had to help the client move past their conscious mind. Erikson introduced the concept of metaphors, many of which were physical actions that clients could take outside the counseling session.
2 Erickson and Physical Metaphors
Erikson used physical metaphors as an away to move past the unconscious mind. The way this would work was to give the client a physical task to complete outside the therapy session that was geared toward helping the client learn something more about themselves. Usually, the client would return to the next counseling session after doing the task and the client would have “profound learning that was unique for them” (Bill Baker 1).
Physical metaphors were used because they allowed the client to bypass their conscious mind by making it concentrate on the task instead of the learning that would take place. In this way, the conscious mind would be occupied and resistance to the learning about oneself would not occur. At the same time, the client’s unconscious mind would be able to form new patterns of though so the individual could come to the next counseling sessions with new insights about their problems (Baker 2). The physical metaphor also provides an opportunity for clients to “learn by doing” in order to learn from their experience.
3 Erikson and Use of Stories
Erikson also used stories to bypass the unconscious mind. He found that stories could inspire a person do something with their life. In order to do this, they would have to understand that what happened in the story could also happen to them which could mean that they would “affect deep and lasting change” (Baker 14) without the individual actively working toward it. There are several reasons that metaphors from stories are useful. David Puchol Esparza states that these stories can provide a key towards helping the individual understand how they show up in the world, they can cause something to be remembered, they can provide many levels of information and they can help people bring about the new patterns of thoughts, behaviors and feelings (2). Also, people enjoy stories that help them understand how someone else has done something. They decide that if someone in similar circumstances were able to battle the situation, that they also can do the same.
4 Erikson and Hypnosis
Stephen Lankston states that Erikson moved from being the authority figure for the individual to a position where he co-created with the client. He was able to offer “ideas and suggestions” to an individual once they were in a trance state (4). He felt that he offered “ambiguity for the client” (4) so the client was able to move through their problems to something more concrete they could do.
In conclusion, Erikson was able to use metaphor to help clients move past issues to something more concrete in their understanding. The metaphors were physical, used as stories or eventually done through hypnosis. They were seen as effective for the clients that used them which created more responsible clients.
Works Cited
Baker, Bill. “The Power of Physical Metaphors”. Eriksonian Info. 2004. Web.
&lt. http://ericksonian.info/PowerofPhysicalMetaphors_p3.html&gt. Gordon, David. “Therapeutic Metaphor.” 2008. Web. 2 December 2011.
&lt. http://www.therapeuticmetaphors.com/&gt. Lankton, Stephen. “Erikson’s Contribution to Therapy: Epistemology – Not Technology. 2000. Web. 29 November 2011. &lt. http://lankton.com/epist.htm#E&gt. Puchol Esparza, David. “Therapeutic Metaphors &amp. Clinical Hypnosis” HypnoGenesis. 2001. 29 November 2011. &lt. http://www.hypnos.co.uk/hypnomag/esparza.html&gt.