Working with clients, I am often reminded of the power of metaphor. For example, when building awareness of the way a client perceives themselves, I might ask a client which fairy-tale character seemed most like them and why?
What follows is sometimes a moving and deep dialogue about what truly matters. Clients may be able, through the metaphor of a children's stories, to connect to what is important to them, and to explore why that is. We might both learn a lot about their values, priorities, and self-image.
Metaphors are packed with meaning, much of what they reveal comes from beyond the conscious mind. In this fairy-tale example, not only does the character you pick let you know about some of the features that define your self-image, but wider aspects of the story might also give you clues about how you are experiencing the world currently and what challenges you are working to overcome.
In therapy clients are often asked to move beyond what they are already aware of, and take a leap into the unknown. Using stories, films, books and other creative metaphors is one way of facilitating this journey into the unconscious. It can accelerate self-knowledge and learning, and help clients feel less vulnerable as they explore.
Next time you find yourself smiling at a child's story, or feeling involved with a film or book character, ask yourself what it is that resonates for you? What parallels can you draw to your own life? What lessons can you learn? Taking your insights to psychotherapy can be a useful way to develop your understanding of yourself, and accelerate your process of change.
Which fairy-tale character are you most like?