City Research Online

Talking in images: clients’ and therapists’ constructions of metaphor and its uses in therapy

Milioni, Daphne (2005). Talking in images: clients’ and therapists’ constructions of metaphor and its uses in therapy. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University)


In this research I employ a social constructionist and a discourse analytic approach in order to theorise the phenomenon of metaphor and its use in therapy. I draw upon critical social psychology debates on notions such as 'self, subjectivity and materiality. Sixteen participants took part in this study. Eight of those were practising therapists, five were clients and three were both therapists in training as well as clients. The participants were interviewed about their views on metaphor and its use in therapy, using semi-structured interview schedules. The three therapists/clients took part in a focus group to explore experiences and views from both positionings and to observe the co-creation of meaning in action. Two versions of discourse analysis were employed in the analysis of the resulting transcripts: Discursive Psychology (DP) (Potter and Wetherell, 1987) and Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (FDA) (Parker, 1992). I argue that while a number of competing and contradictory discursive resources regulate the meaning of 'metaphor', metaphor eschews reductionist conceptualisations. Instead, it is a complex discursive phenomenon with 'real' implications for subjectivity and action. As metaphor makes available certain world-views and subject positions, therapists are called to evaluate their awareness of the implications of the use of metaphor. I also observe that there are currently limited discourses that allow us to talk of metaphor as a process, rather than as a reified entity. I argue that, far from being a medium of mere representation of experience (the 'merely explanatory' account), metaphor actively creates experience. It is within a relational, contextual and collaborative (Le. co-constructive) way, rather than a mere strategic and instrumentalist one, that metaphor can best be understood and utilised in therapy for the benefit of clients.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences
Departments: Doctoral Theses
City, University of London (-2022) > School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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