USING STORIES AND METAPHORS
4 reasons to use stories, metaphors and playful CBT interventions in psychotherapy
Metaphor is the Language of Play and Creativity
Clients communicate through their play and creativity, at every age and stage. Stories elicit feelings, memories, concerns, and perceptions, which are communicated through playful therapy activities.
Play Reflects Developmental Stages
A child's play and language reflect that child's developmental competencies and challenges.
Stories Springboard Treatment
Stories reduce defensiveness, introduce treatment themes and guide treatment interventions. They propel treatment!
Stories suggest new ways of looking at things. They seed possibilities for change. Story characters serve as role models for identification.
Dr. Pat's Reflections
We sometimes forget that adult clients, like children, often lack the words to describe their deepest pain and most hurtful experiences; metaphor, stories, art and play facilitate them doing so. In my recent work with veterans, both male and female, I have discovered many who also experienced trauma of some type prior to entering the military, particularly physical, emotional and / or sexual abuse. Some were raised in neglectful, domestically violent home environments, a life that laid the foundation for chronically high stress, hyper-vigilance, mistrust, avoidance, poor sexual choices and even acting out. Many entered the military to "escape" that difficult world, yet later experienced training or combat-related trauma, including what is referred to as MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
I began using metaphor, stories and drawing in my work with veterans, to help them improve their quality of life through trauma-resolution, improved coping and positive relationships. As a group, they displayed a readiness to pursue change, and I started using the story The Cracked Glass Bowl to assess degree/intensity of trauma and to "jump start" the process of trauma recovery. The results have been amazing, as the pre-post treatment drawings reflect qualitative changes in self-perception that parallel veteran scores on psychometric measures of somatic symptoms, anxiety and depression. I have shared some of these drawings in the Play Creations section of the website.