Metaphoric Tasks in Psychotherapy: Case Studies of "Margie's" Self-Image and "Amy's" Pain

Sam R. Hamburg


Metaphor exists not simply as figurative language but as a fundamental organizing principle of human thought. Given the appropriate context, anything can function metaphorically. In the presently described cases of "Margie" and "Amy," which differed in many ways, a common theme was the effective incorporation of simple tasks, assigned as homework, which were used metaphorically in successful psychotherapy. In Margie's case, the task was not self-consciously conceived as a metaphor by the therapist, but it functioned that way. The therapeutic power of that metaphoric task was confirmed by the client many years later. In the second case, the task was deliberately formulated as a metaphor. Whether this metaphoric task contributed to the case's initially positive outcome is uncertain. To provide background for understanding the integrative psychotherapy model that I bring to these two cases, a statement on my development as a psychotherapist is included as Appendix 1.


hypnotherapy; chronic pain; metaphor; homework tasks; behavior therapy; self-concept; self-efficacy; integrative therapy; short-term therapy; case studies; clinical case studies

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