April 22, 2024

Therapeutic Metaphor

Management of Measurement Constructs

Therapeutic Metaphor

So often in referring back to a discussion, the client will say –or a friend will say in reference to a past conversation, or you will say to a salesperson after a presentation, “One thing you said really hit home…” Now, that is not a criticism that ONLY ONE thing made sense or had relevance! Rather, it means that one statement in particular stayed with the client because it triggered a field of thought that was strategically important. It’s as if the client were to say there’s one point sticking above the sand, and Boy! what a pyramid was revealed beneath it!

Usually, it is a simple statement, something that summarizes, that stands for so much more. The statement is mnemonic (devised for remembering). It is easy to carry around, to quote to others, to repeat to oneself. In its abbreviation, it makes recall facile and valuable.

The use of this technique is very, very powerful. With every consultation, I look for opportunity to summarize significance in picturesque metaphor.

For example: I have popularized a very keen metaphor for the natal aspect condition of Pluto square, conjunct, or opposed the Sun. The metaphor is “there seems to be a blanket over your hand-grenade.”

Now I have tested this in 17 languages, in that many countries, and the response is extraordinary: people with one of these Pluto-Sun connections understand all too clearly what is being said through the metaphor. It is so appropriate, it usually brings a smile into an area of self-aware discomfort!

I have had 15 people rise in an audience -all having Pluto so configured with the Sun-called out this metaphor, and been greeted by spontaneous smiles and applause! One-on-one in consultation it is extremely significant. It begins a discussion of depth and development. -Astrologers who do not understand the principle of using such a metaphor and who have no confidence in it are reluctant to use it, of course. And they miss an enormously important inroad to developmental understanding with the client.

Prince Charles has Pluto square Sun. Is HE stifled somehow? Yes; especially with the Sun ruling his Ascendant [see Synthesis & Counseling, page 51, for his horoscope]. We look for the cause: Moon conjunct the Nodal axis in the parental axis! Mother. -Ten seconds of discussion, deeply into developmental significances, and possession of a powerful mnemonic metaphor about the situation for the rest of his life.

The implicit therapy with this metaphor is certainly, clearly, if we can understand what the blanket is, we can remove it

Psychologist professor Edward Neukrug [see Favorite Counseling and Therapy Techniques, Ed. Howard G. Roensthal, Taylor & Francis Group; Philadelphia, 1998, pages 139-141] presents this technique very strongly in the literature. He recommends using this technique at peak moments in the counseling process, since it summarizes, abbreviates what has gone before, what has been unearthed.

Neukrug offers some examples: “Sounds like you are rearranging chairs on the Titanic.” I.e., No matter what the client does, he or she is still ‘sinking.’ Acknowledging this can be crucial to instigate self-understanding in a new way.

Or a woman staying on and on with a difficult, battering marriage, when all astrological measurements suggests tremendous pressure to dissolve the marriage, but there is the routinized fear of insecurity, etc. Neukrug might say “You know, this situation of yours sounds like a horrible movie. It has moments that are interesting, but overall it’s dreadful, and yet you keep going back to it thinking it’s going to have a different ending.” –This image of “knowing the ending no matter how many times you see the film” can dramatize that the husband, the marriage, will not change and that she herself continues to put herself in the abusive situation. She can not change the movie, but she can stop going to it.” “Why go to the movie, when you know the ending?”

Just this morning, I had a client call to discuss a work situation. For months now (under the M=Sautrn, ruler of her 10th measurement), the woman has wanted to leave her very important job in a major world company and relocate cross-country to better weather, change, new freedoms, etc. Trips were made to check everything out, but the clinching moment of decision was never focused. -And perhaps our consultation had something to do with that: I had seen no major move or job change in her horoscope except perhaps in the spring of 2003 [tr Jupiter conjunct the Sun, tr Saturn conjunct the fourth]. I had told her that, but I had added something else.

“Joan, I think there’s a major chance that you can be promoted or moved around in your present corporation. It will build you up again, and give you more qualifications and experience for the move that probably will happen in two years! -I think that’s going to happen in mid-July [tr Jupiter opposed MC, tr Saturn, ruling the 10th square, to Jupiter; natal Jupiter in superb condition, including a quintile with the MC, and more].”

–NOTE: the potential severity of M=Saturn, the background concern, is for reality to define, not the astrologer to dictate; it could suggest promotion as well as severance; it connotes strong involvement with, feeling about job status at many levels.

Joan did get a surprise promotion on schedule, but she was still upset with the lack of dramatic change. Her heart had been set on the big move and the new climate, etc.

In her call to discuss this further (!), she complained almost irrationally that everything she had developed and worked at for over a decade in one department was now being lost with the move to another branch of the mega-corporation. I waited for just the right moment, and then I said, “Joan the top of the Empire State building is really famous, quite remarkable … -she agreed– … but remember, that top is built upon all the blocks below it.”

I forced into an image appreciation of what she had done for ten years and appreciation for her new towering position. It really meant a lot of grounded sense to her, and the need for discussion was over.

Another example: a female client age 38, in a deep discussion about finally settling down and getting married, but petrified because of parental example, and absolutely no mother attention or model in her life; she says, “Shouldn’t I be able to stand alone? I love this man, but marriage?” –I replied, “You’ve gone thirty-years without a glass of water.” –and later: “Can you climb Everest alone?”

These two question/statements punctuated the discussion powerfully. They were memorable. They will stay with the client for a long time as a reminder of the rest of the more elaborated discussion.