Journey into the "woo-woo": A theoretical exploration of the use of metaphor in psychotherapy

Randy Bruce Carrin (1990)

In recent times, considerable attention has been given by psychological theorists and researchers to the numerous variables which are believed to be important to the endeavor of psychotherapy. One of the variables which has received increasing consideration has been that of therapeutic metaphor. Unfortunately, existing models of metaphor are ill-understood, with little or no consensual agreement as to the specific definition of what is meant by the term metaphor or its functions. Since different schools of psychotherapeutic thought conceptualize metaphor in divergent ways, therapists are primarily familiar with only those metaphoric models explicitly expressed within their respective theoretical orientations. This study theoretically explores the relationship of metaphor to the clinical endeavor, and distinctions are highlighted between the various ways of conceptualizing the term. It is asserted that metaphor is an ubiquitous phenomenon inherent in all language, and that when two or more individuals consent to play with metaphor, and are cognitively and affectively dwelling in the same metaphor, they are engaged in a phenomenological experience that is "woo-woo". It is also asserted that a therapist's metaphoric capacity is an important variable which contributes to his/her clinical acumen, and is a variable which deserves further empirical research and increased attention in graduate school education.