metaphor in therapy

The role of metaphor in hypnotherapy

Sometimes it happens in therapy that you just don't know what to do next. For me, it is usually when I ask a client to try to access the feelings about their behavior, or perhaps about things that happened earlier in their life, and they're can't find an emotion for me to work with. When that happens, I always use Metaphor in Hypnotherapy.

If your client cannot find an emotion then your options are fairly limited. You cannot go for a regression to the Initial Sensitizing Event, because you need an emotion to link to the original event. Or you can focus on the surface problem and use Direct Suggestion hypnotherapy. Another option, is to put your client into trance and either just give them a very relaxing experience, or teach them how to do self hypnosis. This often reduces the stress that underlies their problem, and gives them a temporary relief.

Metaphor in hypnotherapy

Sometimes your client cannot find an emotion, or is too frightened of the emotion. In that case, metaphor therapy is the best way. You can use behavior-centred metaphors, or you can opt for using a generalised metaphor.

What I mean by behavior-centered metaphor is something that is specific to this client and their particular behavior. When you first talk to your client you are trying to find out what their problem is, and how they see it. If the problem is  procrastination, then you can narrow it down to a phrase your client uses to define their problem. They might say "I feel like I'm stuck". Or "I just cannot get started, and I'm easily distracted". For each of these  you can invent a vivid story about someone just like them, who does some action which is metaphorically identical to what they need to do.

Generalized Metaphor in hypnotherapy

Alternatively, you can ignore the specific problem the client has brought to you. In almost every case, your client's problem is actually connected to some issue they had when growing up. You can use a generalised metaphor as a non-specific therapeutic approach. Put your client into trance. Then tell them a long metaphor story about how they can let go of whatever it is that is causing the anxiety. The traditional method is about "dropping the stones". In that metaphor you suggest in trance that they are carrying a backpack. The backpack is full of bricks. They can take the backpack off and tip out the bricks. The basic metaphor is usually dressed up in some fancy location, with added details that relate directly to the client's personal experience. If you are not good at making up stories, then there are many collections of healing metaphors you can use.

But there is never any reason to feel "stuck" yourself when you don't know what to do next in therapy.

David Mason

David Mason

Therapist at Wellington Hypnosis
David Mason is an experienced and university qualified hypnotherapist with 15 years of clinical practice. He has a PhD and a Masters degree in psychology.
He is highly regarded in the hypnotherapy community. He is Vice President of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (NZAPH).
He is regularly consulted for advice by other hypnotherapists around the world. He is known for the quality of his published scripts. He presents at international conferences and has published on hypnosis and advanced hypnotherapy.
He lives in Wellington New Zealand with his wife Trish and a cat called Parsnip.
email: davemason@besthypnosisscripts.com
David Mason

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