When words won't do

A different way of expressing how you might be feeling.

Often in therapy, how you might be feeling, or what you are experiencing is very difficult to put into words. Perhaps what you are going through, or what you have been through, is beyond words. It is at these times when it can be useful to use pictures or metaphors, to describe your situation. For example:

"I feel like a piece of knitting that is unravelling. I have been thrown down and no-one has cast me off properly. I am snagged and snarled and if you pick me up I will completely come undone."

Immediately it is possible to accurately understand and empathise with that very personal experience.

Pictures, or metaphors, are a very powerful way of being heard and can be a step towards your own understanding of what is going on at a time when everything seems confused.

As you form the picture in your head your situation begins to clarify and you and your therapist can see clearly what is happening and what it is like for you.

"I am drowning, I have no air, I am panicking. No-one is around, my head is under the surface."

The metaphor can be used as therapy continues to charter any shifts or progress:

"I was drowning but now I feel as if I have come up for air, I can breathe and I have a life belt."
"Can you see land?"
"Yes, I see land and I think I can get there now"

By using the metaphor it was possible to hear the hope that had developed and how that felt. Even the most prosaic person can surprise with colourful, heartfelt pictures.

"I am a plant in the wrong garden. I am living but failing to thrive. My blooms are faded, my leaves are brown."

Together with your therapist, that plant can be slowly nurtured back to health and eased gently into the right garden to flourish.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Katherine Verity-Scott DTC UKCP Accredited

Katherine Verity-Scott is a practicing psychotherapeutic counsellor working in Durham. She is a qualified teacher and has taught in the creative arts for over 20 years. Katherine is UKCP accredited and a member of the Northern Guild of Psychotherapy. Katherine is an integrative psychotherapist drawing on varied therapeutic modalities… Read more

Written by Katherine Verity-Scott DTC UKCP Accredited

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