9 Nov 2007

Counselling Time: Metaphor Collector

Well the time keeping part of my personal development has well and truly gone out of the window! Not only am I behind in all things blog, now I am behind in my counselling work.
Not hugely behind but I have to catch up on a few things. Normally by writing things in a nice list makes it seem more do able, so lets see if this works for me.

1. Journal entries have to be updated, this is because after every lesson we have to write how we felt and what we think we have learnt. You would think with me having a blog this would be easy but alas I am pants.
2. First assignment has to be typed and checked over.
3. Portfolios and Plastic wallets bought, So I can finally tidy up the big pile of papers I keep lugging around.
4. Some work we have done on flip chart paper has to be neatened up, this is where the mind map software comes in. I have had a mess round but still not found which software I like the most.
5. I am trying to set up a wiki page for me and my fellow class mates as an online homework help.
6. Finally updating this blog with some of my more interesting homework assignments.

The title of this post is Metaphor Collector because that is what I need to do, collect metaphors. Why? I hear you ask.
As part of our skills practice in lessons, we have to do triad work. No not crazy gang triads, but role playing exercise that involve one student being an observer, one a counsellor and one the client. This is an excellent way for us to improve our listening skills, although I at times feel uncomfortable doing it, as it pushes me out of my comfort zone. The further along the course we go the more in depth these triads become and therefore our skills are really put to the test. Basic empathic responses are always good, but sometimes you need to go further. This is where metaphors come in. I found this paragraph to sum up what i mean a bit more,

Occasionally during counselling, the therapeutic process is halted because a client is unable to access his/her inner thoughts and emotions. Counsellors can help clients overcome this obstacle by using metaphors to speak to and to provide clients with access to their phenomenological worlds (Strong, 1989). By appealing to a client's inner world, metaphors help explicate what is implicit, thereby resulting in greater self-knowledge (Strong, 1989).

If you had to describe an extreme emotion from anger,depression, loneliness to fear or anything else, what kind of metaphors would you use? It is easy to think of certain ones but no so easy to use when you are a counselling session. So I need all the help you can offer me.

Ones our tutor used were; I feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel and I feel so alone like I am in deep black hole with no way out.

So feel free to drown me in METAPHORS!

Just updating this post with some links to articles I have recently found.

Tangled Spaghetti in My Head: Making use of metaphor


  1. That is quite difficult when you are not feeling the emotion. How about

    I feel like I am in quicksand
    I am on a roller coaster and can't get off
    Square peg in a round hole
    My life jacket is deflating

    I have a friend who is a counsellor and they use something called the sandbox for people who find it difficult ot express themselves. They have toys such as dinosaurs or cowboys or dolls or whatever and ask the counsellee to put the toys in the sandbox which most closely shows how they are feeling.

    She said she has had some real breakthroughs with this method and it has also helped trigger some memories that needed healing.

  2. Vic is right, it's tough when you aren't feeling that particular emotion but let's try -

    feeling like I am stuck in a deep, dark pit of depression or
    feeling lower than the underbelly of a snake.

  3. Well,Something to describe fear;

    Where do I take this fear of mine
    I run but it stays by my side
    It grips me
    It stains me

    Saw this post in BC and thought I could do a bit of help(in case your surprised how I reached here!)

  4. Anger, (fear, jealousy, pain) can be very uncomfortable(distracting, tiring, draining).

  5. Oh ho! Don't you just hate these kind of things to do with counseling and coursework? I know I did! My pea brain goes totally stone cold dead when I HAVE to come up with a metaphor. I can never remember then -when asked - what the hell a metaphor really is and just get totally discombulated as a result. Always get it confused with an analogy ya know. I know - dumbass old fart, huh?

  6. Feel like I'm making no headway.

    Struggling to keep my head above water.

    Yo-yo feelings.

    And then there are all the color ones, like red with rage, black mood, feeling blue, green with envy, white with fear, and so on.

    For more a more in-depth consideration of metaphors and how they permeate our language and structure our thinking, run off to the library and find the book Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. It is not a new book, but it's still very good. ;-}

  7. Hi, kinda bizare, just looking up triad information and came to this page! As a fully fledged psychotherapist (around the 10 years mark), the metaphor thing is a strange one ... I personally do not use them as I find it often 'redefines' the client's reality. However I do use the clients language and if you know anything about NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and TA (transactional analysis) you will know that teh language they will use depends on which 'modality' they prefer to use ... using some of the examples above ... if your client has a prefereed process of 'behaving' and uses language such as 'bearing-down' or 'I have a heaviness' and you come up with a metaphor for feeling 'You feel like you are making no headway' or 'you feel like you are in a black hole' (feeling and visual modalities), then you will clash and lose rapport.

    The upshot of this - just listen to your client, 'hear' what language they are using, build rapport by using the same language, and chances are you will come up with some of your own.