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Refining Your Style for Working with Metaphors

Refining Your Style for Working with Metaphors
Erickson often took as long as a week to design a hypnotic inter-
vention for a patient. He took great care in planning the metaphors
that he would use.
As you begin to experiment with creating metaphors, I recom-
mend two good sources: Therapeutic Metaphors by David Gordon,
and The Answer Within by Lankton and Lankton. There are also a
number of good courses on metaphors in the American Institute of
Hypnotherapy’s doctorate programme. You will get excellent
results from a careful study of how to design metaphors and pre-
dict their effects. The best teacher, however, will be your own
experience and experiments as you create and use metaphors.
Do not limit yourself to stories that you have heard or experi-
enced. You can create stories from scratch that will exactly address
the needs of your clients. One of Erickson’s famous stories is a
deep level metaphor about tomatoes. To a client who wanted to
lose weight he said, “You know, I’m growing some tomatoes in my
backyard. And the interesting thing about the tomatoes is that they
know what to eat to be the right size. Tomatoes always come out
to be just the size they’re supposed to be.” And he continued with
a long, involved metaphor of how a tomato pulls the nutrients up
from the soil, taking in the right amount of water and the right
amount of nutrients. That is one way of doing an intervention!
As you continue to experiment with metaphors, you will find new
ways not only to use them in inducing trance, but also to weave
them into the change work that you do when the client is already
in trance. And your subtlety and effectiveness will grow. People
love stories. The Unconscious Mind is intrigued by metaphors.

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