Metaphor and Psychological Transference

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Psychotherapy is a mental health activity where therapists assist clients through verbal interaction. The phenomenon of transference, where clients superimpose their past experiences onto present life situations, occurs frequently in psychotherapy, and may have varied effects on treatment outcome depending on how it is managed or “worked through.” While previous work has linked transference to metaphor based on their theoretical similarity, this article explores the relationship on the basis of actual psychotherapy talk between a therapist–client dyad at a Chinese university counseling center. It combines clinical and discourse analytic observations to the model working through transference as an interactional process of constructing a “PRESENT IS PAST” conceptual metaphor, and suggests that the process involves guiding the client to move from an awareness of correspondences at the conceptual level (i.e., between entities, attributes, and relations), to the transferential level (between feelings, emotions, and attitudes). Methodological, theoretical, and practical implications for contemporary metaphor research and psychotherapy practice are discussed, and some directions offered for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-30
Number of pages20
JournalMetaphor and Symbol
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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