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Relationship Metaphors

Metaphors And Family Therapy

Family therapists have a long tradition of recognizing the importance of understanding client metaphors of their relationship experiences (Sims and Whynot 1998). The metaphors used by family clients may limit their ability to explore alternative ways of relating more constructively. Family therapists strive to locate new metaphors for families, thereby giving them alternative language with which to construct different ways of being. Sometimes, these metaphors are idiosyncratic to the particular client family. At other times, therapists identify metaphors that can function as useful interventions for a number of families. Linda Wark and Shilpa Jobalia (1998), for example, discuss an intervention with stepfamilies based on the metaphor of building a bridge. Stepfamily development can be plagued with adjustment problems. By framing this process as the construction of a bridge, stepfamily members can temper their desire to rush to instant closeness and understand the slow, step-by-step process required to build a strong family structure.

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