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Therapeutic Metaphors

A metaphor is a representation of an object or an idea with which it shares a similar quality.A metaphor is deeply embedded in our language, culture, and the way we think, and hence affects how we interact with the world and other people.

A symbol is the smallest unit of metaphor, consisting of a single object, image, or word representing the essence of the quality or an attribute it stands for.For example a candle flame may be a symbolic representation of the Divine Light within an individual, while a coin may be a symbolic representation of abundance.

The following is a Jung's definition of a symbol:"A word or an image is symbolic when it implies something more than its obvious and immediate meaning.It has a wider 'unconscious' aspect that is never precisely defined or fully explained.Nor can one hope to define or explain it.As the mind explores the symbol, it is led to ideas that lie beyond the grasp of reason."

A story by itself is an account of incidents or events.A metaphorical story in a therapeutic context consists of elements that symbolically represent the client's problem and offers a solution to the client's problem in an indirect manner.

The story may deal with some general human issue and being portrayed as such through a popular fairy tale or may be specifically tailored to suit the particular issue an individual is undergoing either by telling a story about someone who had a similar problem and how the problem got solved or being completely new story containing the elements that are symbolic representations of the issues the person is dealing with.Some stories may be rather obvious, others so filled with symbols that its very hard for conscious mind to associate elements of the story with the events the person is undergoing.

In a therapeutic context metaphors are used as tools for transformation facilitating new patterns of thoughts, feelings and behavior.If constructed properly, they are very successful and powerful in fostering the change because they communicate directly with the subconscious mind, bypassing the critical faculty of the conscious mind.