The efficacy of client-generated and therapist-generated metaphors in psychotherapy.
Christelis, Paul James.
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The purpose of the reported research was to determine the efficacy of client-generated and therapist-generated metaphors in psychotherapy. The aim of the study was to ascertain whether client-generated metaphors are more appropriate and effective than a) therapist-generated metaphors and b) conditions in which no metaphors are used (literal conditions). Exploratory aims included examining the impact of counsellor training on subjects' attitudes towards the three conditions and ascertaining the effect of therapists' and clients' sex on these attitudes. The author hypothesized that client-generated metaphors would be perceived as being most effective by subjects in both the Trained group (ie. those subjects who received input on counselling skills) and the Untrained group (ie. those subjects who received no such input) and that therapist-generated metaphors would be rated least effective. A quantitative analysis comprising Kuder Richardson Formula 20 Analyses of Variance and the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient was adopted and a content analysis was performed on the qualitative data. Although the results were not found to be significant, they approached significance and pointed to undeniable trends in the data. Specifically, these trends were that client-generated metaphors were perceived as most effective amongst trained counsellors; that literal communication was favoured by untrained subjects; and that both groups deemed therapist-generated metaphors to be the least effective of the three conditions. The only significant finding on the relationship between sex and attitude towards metaphor, was that female subjects tend to adopt a more positive attitude towards client-generated metaphors than male subjects do. The results showcase the importance of context when using metaphors in psychotherapy, and suggest avenues for future research.