Posts Tagged ‘Metaphor’
When children paint the sun, they often draw a circle with rays coming out. You’ve all seen that; you probably did it yourself when you were young. A year or so later, a child might paint the sun partly behind clouds. Several years later, they might paint rays coming out from the clouds, but the sun is not visible — what a friend of mine calls a “God sunset.” Even subtler is to paint only the scattered reflection of sunlight on water. An accomplished artist doesn’t paint the sun at all but suggests where the sun is by painting a tree with a little more light on one side than the other, and a subtle shadow to indicate the sun’s location. I think that’s a good metaphor for implication: indicating something without ever explicitly stating it. One of my favorite quotes is: “The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” (Ralph W. Sockman) Knowledge and wonder are stated; the ocean of ignorance is implied.
On the first page of the first volume of Conversations with Milton H. Erickson, (in which the word “implication” appears about every third page) Jay Haley says, “I have a whole week, so I suspect I can learn all about psychotherapy in that time. I wouldn’t expect that anywhere else but here.” Erickson laughs and says, “Well, we can have our dreams.” That’s a polite way of implying, “You are wildly optimistic!” → Read more
My wife, Jennifer, is not a big traveler, but she has always wanted to go to Alaska to see the wildlife. So in the summer of 2015, we signed up with National Geographic/Lindblad and went for two wonderful weeks. Jennifer is a hospice nurse, and what makes the story interesting is that for many years if you asked her how someday, she would like to die, her answer was that she would like to be eaten by orcas—those magnificent creatures sometimes called “killer whales,” even though they are actually oceanic dolphins. She had recurring but not frightening dreams of a big orca devouring her—she had talked about it several times. And here I was, signing up to be in a two-person kayak in Alaskan waters teeming with orcas with someone who wants to be eaten alive! → Read more
Stone carving transformed my life of chronic pain, depression, and drug dependency into a life of renewed vitality with the ability to work, dance, and feel whole again.
After 25 years of working as an emergency room physician, I underwent several back surgeries, which resulted in many hours of physical therapy and treatments with never-ending pain and limited mobility; my life was reduced to bed rest and hot baths. So, I pursued several treatment options, including tapping into my creativity as a way of healing chronic pain. → Read more
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 29 seconds
A concerned father brought his 7- year-old daughter to psychotherapy because she had recently started to have tantrums, was very unhappy and moody, and answered badly when spoken to. She was not sleeping well and she refused to go to school. During the first play therapy session, she told me that before she had always liked school where she sang, laughed, and enjoyed playing with her friends. Now she felt sad and scared. She said, “My father would not love me anymore.” She feared she would no longer be her father’s “princess.” Her brother was born last month and now she felt her family was not the same. → Read more
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 22 seconds.Chapter One
Dear Dr. Greenleaf,
This is Angela from your class at MRI. I have a situation at home and I wanted to write to you because I sense you may be able to help me deal with it by using a story for the solution.
This morning my 3 ½-year-old son walked quietly into my room with his favorite stuffed pink pig and comforting purple blanket. Instead of his normal singing, shouting, and jumping in my bed, he looked tired and sad and crawled under my blanket to cuddle with me. I asked him, “Did you have a good night’s sleep?” He was solemn and I saw the thousand-mile distant stare in his big brown eyes. He had that stare when he was in a trance. → Read more
Tommy, eight years old, performed poorly at school, though a psychologist deemed him gifted. Using metaphor, the educator helps Tommy find his own resources to control impulsive behavior:
“Well, Tommy, now I’m going to ask you some questions, Ok?”. Tommy nodded, moving a little on his chair. “Tommy, which number is double 15?” Tommy said automatically, without thinking, “20”. I said: “Tommy, sometimes, our brain receives a lot of lightning and it is so overwhelmed that it has to warn us. But how? Because it is our body’s boss, sometimes it can cause headaches, make us answer a question without thinking.” Tommy said: “Yes, my teacher is always complaining! ‘Tommy you always answer without thinking. You must think and then answer’” He looked nervous. → Read more
Editor’s Note: The following is a summary and English translation of an award-winning article published in Japan: Tsuawa. (2000). Play as therapeutic metaphors: Ericksonian play therapy. The Japanese Journal of Brief Psychotherapy, 9, 18-38.
“Why are children born? They might be born to play. They might be born to romp,” these words are found in Ryojinhisho, an old Japanese songbook. Throughout history and across varying cultures, childhood and play have been closely associated. During play, children naturally strive to develop solutions to problems. Play facilitates the expression of emotion and the focusing of attention. Even more importantly, play is a metaphorical device producing rich experiences that add to the life and skill of children. → Read more
The 21-year-old client did not want to be in therapy. Charged with assault on his girlfriend, he had been ordered to counseling as a condition of probation. The intake, conducted by another therapist, noted, “Client is reluctant to focus on violence-related issues.” The client, muscular and sullen, entered the first session in silence and sat slouched in his chair with a cap concealing most of his face. He had described himself as “a boxer” and had explained that counseling should not interfere with his “career,” which consisted solely of daily sparring at a local gym.
After preliminaries, I began giving the client an explanation of the negative effects of emotional stress. I told him how “industrial psychologists are paid high wages to ensure workers have their lives in order at home.” The role of sports psychologists was also described in detail with some impressive statistics about successful results. The client was then offered psychological training in order to benefit his boxing career. He responded with increased enthusiasm toward treatment. → Read more
A 24-year old client who had been in therapy almost continually since her mid-teens presented a long history of sexual abuse and incest. Five years previously, she had been hospitalized for major depression and suicidal concerns.
At that time she reported abusive treatment by her psychiatrist. Complaints involved isolation when she refused medication, verbal insults, and suggestions of memories that she did not have. She reported that the psychiatrist subsequently lost his license. → Read more
Several months ago, I found myself in the midst of a terrible conflict. Two people, with whom I had close professional and personal ties, and with whom I shared a common project, fell into a serious dispute — one accusing the other of a crime. Worse than that, each party represented powerful institutions, with which I had important connections.
I attempted to mediate; offering a plausible solution to both sides, but was refused by both. To my dismay and discomfort, the more I tried to solve this dilemma, the more the two parties began to turn their suspicions and mistrust toward me. So I backed away, feeling uneasy, nervous, and despondent. The parties consulted lawyers — positions hardened; empathy dissolved. → Read more