Painting Verbal Images

Mary Jago Krueger

Her head fell back, her shoulders lifted; her eyes turned to opaque pools of water as she gazed up at the ceiling as if at any moment relief would sweep in and ease her pain. Another member of the group inquired, "Where are you?" She whispered "I don't know how to explain it. I don't have the words."

USING FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE AS A TOOL IN GROUP THERAPY

Figurative language offers us the opportunity to create images that stimulate the senses (Barlow, Fine, Pollio & Pollio, 1977). Creative verbal imaging can provide a perspective from which a shared experience can elicit visceral responses about a moment in the group process. The use of figurative language in psychotherapy is a means of communicating sensitive material aimed at interpreting defenses in a personal manner (Yeomans, Clarkin, Altschul & Hull, 1992). A metaphor is hatched or an analogy is constructed all in the service of translating a defense or demonstrating mutuality between group members.

GENERAL CLIENT POPULA TION

Figurative language may be used with any type of group to illustrate a point, make an observation, or convey a concept. It can also be a gentle and rich method for interpreting process in a psychotherapy group or addressing points of difficulty without prejudice or judgment. The requirements are that the members of the group share a common understanding of the language or phrases used for the interventions and have the ability to think abstractly, even if it is at a basic level.

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