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Metaphor

Metaphor is defined as a device of speech in which comparison is drawn between two unlike entities. When drawn into a coherent story, metaphor can be used to deliver implicit messages in accessible ways, and throughout history metaphors have been used to impart cultural wisdom, life lessons, political messages, and moral values. In understanding the structure and function of metaphor the work of Lakoff and Johnson (1980a, 1980b, 1980c) is influential. They argue that concepts are tied to metaphors and that they mold our thinking. Complex abstract concepts such as ‘life’ can be tied to more concrete representations in a metaphor like ‘life is a journey’—Lakoff and Johnson propose that we understand complex concepts through the use of metaphor. Read more
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Therapy tool

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Progress In Therapy

The Progress In Therapy information handout graphically illustrates metaphors for trajectories of progress in therapy. ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/progress-in-therapy/

Information Handout

PTSD Film Projection Metaphor

Treatment for trauma often involves exposure to traumatic thoughts and memories, and many clients are understandably reluctant to attempt this. The PT ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/ptsd-film-projection-metaphor/

Information Handout

PTSD Linen Cupboard Metaphor

Treatment for trauma often involves exposure to traumatic thoughts and memories, and many clients are understandably reluctant to attempt this. The PT ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/ptsd-linen-cupboard-metaphor/

Information Handout

Schema Metaphors

Core beliefs (schemas) are self-sustaining. They act to ‘attract’ confirmatory evidence and ‘repel’ or ‘distort’ d ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/schema-metaphors/

Information Handout

TEAR Model of Grief

Worden formulated the process of grief as consisting of tasks, including accepting the reality of the loss and experiencing its pain. This client info ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/tear-model-of-grief/

Information Handout

Thoughts And Depression

Depression is associated with cognitive biases, one of which is a failure to notice positive information. This information handout presents this conce ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/thoughts-and-depression/

Information Handout

Unforgiveness Hook Metaphor

Forgiveness is an often misunderstood concept in therapy. This Unforgiveness Hook Metaphor is a striking representation of the consequences of remaini ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/unforgiveness-hook-metaphor/

Information Handout

Intervention

Presentations

Recommended Reading

What Is Metaphor?

Metaphor is an essential component of the art of psychotherapy and its use is more apparent in some branches than others. The noted psychiatrist and clinical hypnotherapist Milton Erickson is considered a master of the art of metaphor and was known for his ‘teaching tales’ which often imparted important messages by indirect means. There is a strong use of metaphor within the cognitive behavioral family of therapies. Beck describes a number of uses of metaphor in his 1979 Cognitive Therapy of Depression. The use of metaphor is perhaps described most succinctly in Oxford Guide to Metaphors in CBTin which the authors argue “The business of cognitive therapy is to transform meanings. What better way to achieve this than through a metaphor?” (Stott, Mansell, Salkovskis, Lavender, & Cartwright-Hatton, 2010).

References

  • Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980a). Conceptual metaphor in everyday language. The Journal of Philosophy, 77(8), 453–486.
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980b). The metaphorical structure of the human conceptual system. Cognitive Science4(2), 195–208.
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980c). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Stott, R., Mansell, W., Salkovskis, P., Lavender, A., & Cartwright-Hatton, S. (2010). Oxford guide to metaphors in CBT: Building cognitive bridges. New York: Oxford University Press.