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**Powerful Therapeutic Metaphors**

Using RFT to Create Powerful Therapeutic Metaphors Yvonne Barnes-Holmes, Dermot Barnes-Holmes, & Ian Stewart

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**Workshop Overview The current workshop consists of three parts:**

Overview of the RFT account of analogy and metaphor De-construction of examples of ACT metaphors Construction of novel metaphors for clinical practice

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**Understanding Analogy**

& Metaphor Relational frame theorists have employed the concept of relating relations, as the basic process underlying the verbal abilities for understanding and constructing analogies and metaphors At its most basic, Barnes, Hegarty, and Smeets (1997) proposed a model of analogical reasoning that involved responding in accordance with equivalence-equivalence relations (i.e. the relating together of derived equivalence relations)

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**Equivalence-Equivalence**

APPLE DOG Equivalence-Equivalence Equivalent Equivalent PEACH SHEEP

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Is that it? The previous example involved the derivation of arbitrary stimulus relations But analogies and metaphors also appear to abstract out non-arbitrary relations among events Consider the analogy Apple is to Peach as Dog is to Sheep This abstracts out specific non-arbitrary properties that pertain to each of the two sets of relations

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**Equivalence-Equivalence**

Crels Round, juicy, edible Crels Hairy, four legs, lives in groups Equivalent APPLE SHEEP PEACH DOG Equivalence-Equivalence The analogy then also allows two sets of non-arbitrary properties to function as Crels for the two equivalence relations

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**Understanding Analogy & Metaphor**

So, two of the central features of the RFT theoretical and empirical model of analogy and metaphor are : Relations between derived arbitrary relations Relating based on the abstraction of non-arbitrary properties

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**Understanding Analogy & Metaphor**

Because the relating of the derived relations most often involves a relation of coordination, it is common that individuals experience this as a novel insight or “Aha!” And this of course, may be based on the fact that the two related events give rise to similar somatic outcomes, such as the same feeling

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**Understanding Analogy & Metaphor**

However, it is errroneous to think of analogies/metaphors as simply the compounding of one or two relations of coordination, especially when the metaphors in question are used for clinical purposes Instead, these are substantive relational networks, that require sophisticated verbal histories of shared knowledge and experience Take a look at this . . .

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**Struggling with Anxiety is Like Struggling in Quicksand**

Struggle in quicksand Drowning CAUSAL RELATION with anxiety Panic attack SAME ACTUAL struggle with anxiety ACTUAL panic attack ACTUAL struggle in quicksand ACTUAL drowning Arbitrary Crel for Co-ordination “Same Sort of Feeling” = Non-Arbitrary Crel for Co-ordination (The “Aha” Experience) Choking Can’t breathe

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**Understanding Analogy & Metaphor**

Of course, metaphors are practically useless for clinical purposes if they fail to facilitate behaviour change And thus some specific transformations of function must be targeted with the relational networks and in such a way that they make the behaviour change seem feasible

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**Struggling with Anxiety is Like Struggling in Quicksand**

Struggle in quicksand Drowning CAUSAL RELATION with anxiety Panic attack SAME ACTUAL struggle with anxiety ACTUAL panic attack ACTUAL struggle in quicksand ACTUAL drowning Choking Can’t breathe Next Trip to the Mall = Cfunc for Transfer Of Functions (A Subsequent Change in Behaviour)

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**Secrets for Constructing Good Clinical Metaphors**

Try to unhinge yourself from the verbal traps and frustration if you are finding a metaphor for a problem that you have been struggling with for some time You could maybe even think of a metaphor that would describe yourself in this situation!

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**Secrets for Constructing Good Clinical Metaphors**

Try to think in precise and simplistic terms about the client’s: existing relational network (think of this as the target) the types of relations contained therein the transformations of functions that currently occur If it helps, even draw them out in order to try to illucidate target non-arbitrary properties The closer your vehicle (i.e. the other network you construct with the metaphor) matches the target relationally, the better will be your metaphor

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**Secrets for Constructing Good Clinical Metaphors**

Once you have the target network in mind, try to think through the non-arbitrary features of this And then identify what happens to the client when she experiences these properties Often, the properties are coordinated with evaluations like stupid, disgusting, hopeless and these participate in self-relations (and that’s why she feels so bad about herself) and she desperately wants you to share in these (i.e. co-ordination relations in the perspective-taking frames)

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**Trying to Find Solutions is Like Digging in a Hole**

Feelings generated by target network: Repetitive Feels painful Overwhelming Feelings generated by the vehicle: Getting deeper Dark Helpless . . .??? Finding solutions Dig in hole SAME Getting confused Sinking In this case, the vehicle enhances aspects of the properties associated with the target

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**Secrets for Constructing Good Clinical Metaphors**

Networks Specific relations Non-arbitrary properties Behaviour change

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