Monday, November 8, 2010

Using Metaphors in Therapy

Participants Chair
Using chairs as a metaphor
Participants Chair
Participants Chair
Participants Chair

Participants Chair
Focused Centered Art Therapy and using Metaphors

I took part in an online course offered by Ann Weiser Cornell and Gene Gendlin in which Gene used a beautiful metaphor for Focusing. He said he imagined himself sitting on a bench in the subway station in New York and from this bench; he had the choice of taking many trains. He was using this metaphor to describe sitting in the place deep inside where we wait and see what wants our attention. We could focus on the part of us that is upset over something that happened with a friend who is worried about work or the part of us that feels happy and calm. He described the bench as the place where we stay Present and be with our inner experience.

This weekend I taught a Level Four Focusing to a wonderful group of people. I used Gene’s metaphor and the women all imagined a seat, a chair or a place of comfort and safety where they could take a seat in their deep inner self. These chairs presented a place to pause, and/or be anchored in their inner world. 


Why A Chair? 

The chairs develop their own narrative. You may have found associations with an old familiar reading chair, a chair used for thinking, reflecting, and or throwing clothes on. You may remember chairs that you sat on in the waiting room at the doctor, at bus stops, at friends’ houses or in restaurants. You may have favourite styles of chairs. Chairs in homes can be thought of as holding energy. A chair positioned at the doorway of the home is metaphorically sitting at the threshold of what energy is entering or leaving the home. A chair used in a nursery to snuggle and sing a child to sleep would metaphorically be holding safety, comfort and love for that child. A chair in the study may hold the joy of sinking into a good book, and the promise of insight. A chair in the dinning room may hold the discomfort or comfort of the family meal. Chairs are where we retreat, pause, take stock, reflect, think and meditate. When we settle into a chair, we can turn our attention inward.

Art Experience: Creating your Focusing Chair

In this art experience I am suggesting that we think of this chair as symbolic of a place where you sit down to Focus. The chair is a place where you can be Present and focused on your inner experience. What colours would it need to be, what designs, decorations, fabrics, and/or other symbolic objects would need to be there or around this chair for your safety and containment? What qualities would it metaphorically have to have? I am suggesting that you use your imagination to let this chair become the seat of your journey. From the comfort and safety of this chair you can explore your deep inner levels of being.


nacherluver said...

My chair is an over-sized, overstuffed off-white chair that rocks and reclines. I would want a cozy blanket and some good books stacked on the arm. Tucked underneath my leg would be a journal and pen. It would be as safe and comfortable feeling as a grandma's bosom. I could curl up alone writing, reading or relaxing. I could also invite the kids or my husband to sit with me and cozy under the blanket. In that seat I could rest, dream, love, reflect, learn and write the story of my life. I would never want to leave. With that chair in my mind, my heart, my soul, I never have to! Thank you for this little exercise!

Karen Wallace said...

Thank you for this beautiful and poetic comment. Hugs Karen

Caterina Martinico said...

I love your sharing of working with the metaphor of a chair. Thank you for this one. Blessings...Caterina

Karen Wallace said...

Caterina, You are so welcome. hugs Karen

Shannon said...

what a nice post! thank you for sharing. also, thanks for visiting my blog. i've added you to my reduce clutter challenge!


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