‘What’s it Like?’ – Knowing Where You Stand with Metaphors of Movement

In change work and therapy, outcomes and goal setting is largely just fantasy. The key to personal change is not to focus on the outcome or goal, but rather to face the reality of where you are right now.

What is Metaphors of Movement about?

Metaphors of Movement takes the guess work out of change work by purely working in the structure of the metaphorical world the person occupies.

It is a precision tool to help you home in on the client’s exact stuck point and how they are maintaining their problem state

Metaphors of Therapy and Mind

Different models of therapy take a radically different view on the nature of human suffering and the methods employed to relieve this suffering.

For example:

  • Mind as machine (with cogs that go around)

  • Mind as computer (to be programmed)

  • Mind as organic entity (to be fed and exercised)

  • Mind as a territory (to explore)

  • Mind as a tool (to be honed or sharpened)

  • Mind as a servant/slave/employee (to be trained)

  • Mind as a box (that things are hidden away in)

  • Mind as a plumbing system (to be unblocked)

A problem with therapy is that so often it can be observed that the client might as well be mute and not speak at all as the practitioner fits whatever communication is offered into their preferred model or frame of understanding.

Meaning gets inferred upon the client’s reportage, and the client’s meaning so often gets lost in the frame. This reframing, no matter how artful and clever, will so often serve merely to negate the client’s experience for the duration of the therapy sessions.

For example. A client says, “I am in a pit of despair.”

  • the gestalt therapist explores any unfinished business

  • the psychiatrist examines for a chemical imbalance

  • the energy therapist unblocks the happiness meridians

  • the recovered memory therapist looks for hidden memories of abuse

  • the psychoanalyst looks for ego conflicts

None of the metaphors brought in by the change worker/therapist match the person’s actual internal experience and representation of their problem.

Using a Metaphors of Movement approach, I may start by asking - ‘So tell me about the pit….’

The Metaphors of Movement models can be applied to both individual and corporate/organisation levels.

Most contemporary analysis involves an exploration of four main themes:

  • Examples of the problem (what happens)

  • Emotional responses to the problem (how we feel about what happens)

  • The consequences of the problem (the effects of what happens)

  • The diagnosis of the problem (what we call it)

But none of these explore the possible solutions that are inherent within the problem system.

In this 90-minute brief introduction to Metaphors of Movement, we will explore ‘What it’s like’, and how by listening perfectly to the structure of the problem, we can show excellent understanding of the person’s internal world and where they stand.

Once someone knows where they stand, they are then able to take steps and know what’s behind them now, what’s right for them, see what’s left, what they have to look forward to and what’s up.

They could put their best foot forward and actually change things on a metaphorical landscape level. This in turn will alter the way the previous stuck state is experienced, giving them more choice at a very congruent level for lasting change.

You will never hear things the same again!

Metaphors of Movement is an evolving field that is being pioneered by Andrew T. Austin in collaboration with NLP innovators, Steve and Connirae Andreas and is heavily influenced by the work of Charles Faulkner.

Metaphors of Movement is NOT the same as Clean Language!

By Alan Johnson