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NLP Training - Therapeutic Metaphors

Author : edra hutchinson

Defining the Therapeutic Metaphor

What defines a therapeutic metaphor is that the characters and events that occur in the story are equivalent with those individuals and events which make up the clients situation or problem. It is important to note that the situations, events and processes within the therapeutic metaphor are not equal to or do not directly represent the clients' situation but act as an equivalent to, that they preserve the same relationships between the metaphor and the situation. This allows the client to identify which aspects in the metaphor most closely represent themselves and their situation without conscious intervention. This relies on an unconscious matching process, thus stopping the natural filtering process that happens when we try to consciously interpret a story thus making the change less effective due to ‘internal resistance'.

Therapeutic metaphors

One-line metaphors that people offer to you can be a simple way to learn how to construct responsive metaphors of change back to them. Take for example these one-liners:

Client: My life is like hell
Therapist: What would it take to change it into heaven?
So it hasn't been hot enough for you to get out yet?
How hot does it need to be to get out?
Perhaps those demons are angels in disguise there to motivate you?

Client: Sometimes I feel like I am imprisoned
Therapist: What would it take to flatten down the walls?
What is it that is keeping you inside?
What freedom do you have inside that would allow you to get out?

Client: My life is like a race and I never win
Therapist: If you never enter the competition you will never get a chance to win, better in that out!
Winning is for losers who need to come first.
If your life was not a race what would you wish it to be?

Anthony Robbins in his Personal Enhancement Seminars uses the Firewalk as a physical metaphor. The physical act of walking on hot coals over a distance of two to three metres for some acts as a metaphor in their life. The metaphor is: If I can walk on burning hot coals; what else am I am capable of.

Physical metaphors can be taken as literal meanings or as metaphors for other things. Consider other physical metaphors that people might use; from rock climbing, parachuting and other outdoor pursuit activities to globe trekking. Physical metaphors don't have to be physically challenging either, just so long as the task or metaphor is appropriate to achieve the desired change.

Within the class of therapeutic metaphors lies what are called Isomorphic metaphors. Isomorphism means that there is a similarity or identity to the form and structure of elements between two groups. With an isomorphic metaphor we construct a story that has the same key elements, events and subjects that the client has already talked about.

Resources in the metaphor are introduced as a way to enable the character in the metaphor to achieve their outcome.
These resources are indirect suggestions that we wish our clients unconscious mind to pick up on.

You can use these styles of Metaphors on an NLP Training or learn them from NLP Courses. You can also use them in NLP Coaching scenarios and they are also highly relevant in business.

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Submitted : 2011-01-27    Word Count : 846    Times Viewed: 572