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We all use metaphor and story throughout our lives, often without much in the way of conscious deliberation. It is a part of our normal communication. As therapists, we know that working with our patient’s or client’s metaphors often yield useful results. Metaphors can be powerful tools for conveying ideas or emotions in an accessible and relatable way. They can help people gain new perspectives, understand their experiences, and navigate their challenges more effectively. Metaphors can also serve as bridges between conscious and unconscious processes, facilitating deeper insight.

Metaphors and stories involve any or all of the senses and many of the common metaphors we use in the hypnotic context are predominantly visual, although we need to remember to suggest connection via the other senses as well. Working with those who struggle to visualise poses a challenge which will be the subject of May’s BSCAH webinar on Aphantasia

Most of us who use hypnosis will employ special place imagery (safe place, laughing place, happy place) and utilise metaphors such as rubbish chutes, throwing leaves in a stream, bonfires or clouds drifting off into the distance to release negative thoughts and feelings. Common metaphors used for connecting with the positive are stepping into an imagined self, picking up positive pebbles, feeling the strength of a tree as you lean against the trunk, or being bathed in an aura whose colour represents the positive attributes of calmness or confidence.

We can use constructed metaphorical stories to help our clients realise a different perspective on a problem, where the protagonists in the story match across to those in the client’s problem. Therapeutic metaphor can be a very powerful tool and as many of us do not have the time to think and construct a story relevant to our client it is useful to have a stockpile of stories and metaphors that can be quickly adapted to whatever is necessary.

I am often amazed at the imagery my patients come up with – their creative imagination is too often a neglected resource in therapy. If you would like to hone your skills in using this amazing tool then do take a look at ‘Creating story and metaphor in clinical hypnosis’ by Colin Jones and Laszlo Novak. This is a short, clear and practical guide to doing exactly as the title suggests. Colin is a member of BSCAH, hugely experienced in story and therapeutic metaphor and  is giving April’s BSCAH webinar: