THERAPY is a journey as a discourse metaphor

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Although much has been written about the use of metaphors during psychotherapy sessions, the complementary question of how the therapeutic process might itself be metaphorically conceptualized is seldom asked. This article adopts the notion of 'discourse metaphors' (Zinken et al., 2008) and provides a case study of the metaphor THERAPY IS A JOURNEY across various levels of psychotherapeutic discourse, including the formulation of theoretical constructs, pedagogical frameworks and transcripts of actual therapeutic talk. I show how the inherent meaning stability as well as flexibility afforded by conceptual metaphors renders them particularly suitable for conveying a necessary sense of theoretical continuity across the levels, while accommodating variations according to situated discourse objectives within each level. Answering calls for metaphor research to be more practically relevant, I also suggest how the present approach can contribute to the increasing therapeutic concern with establishing 'feedback' across the different participatory levels of psychotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-68
Number of pages22
JournalDiscourse Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • conceptual metaphor
  • discourse metaphor
  • metaphor variation
  • psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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