Practice using metaphors to achieve therapeutic ends. Metaphor is essentially the use of symbolic events or items to symbolize something else. Many believe that the Wizard of Oz was a metaphor for the United States’ debate about going off of the gold standard in the 1900’s. Kafka’s Metamorphosis is said to be a metaphor for the denial of self engendered in conformity to a harsh capitalist society. In coaching and psychotherapy, healing metaphors can bypass conscious filters and rally subconscious resources. Metaphors such as those in Little Annie Stories can be used to help children navigate developmental challenges and fears.

Choose a situation to which you can apply a healing metaphor.

Think of a situation in your own or someone else’s life that is creating fear or difficulty in adjusting. It can be an adult or child.

Decide what is key to healing.

Jot down a core idea that would be healing or useful in this situation. Jot down some ideas that support it.

Create your metaphor as a story situation.

Think of a story situation that resembles this, but does not directly say it. For example, a child who is afraid of the dark could be transformed into a story about a prince who must get to the castle in order to become the next king, but he must pass through a dark forest that he is sure is full of goblins and witches.

Complete the metaphor for healing.

Find a way to propel the story and reach a resolution with a healing meaning. For example, you could enthrall your child with the prince’s travels through the dark forest, with his certainty that sounds he is hearing means he is about to be eaten by goblins or turned into a toad by witches. He could have close calls with things that turn out to be birds and rabbits. (The metaphor is stating that these fears aren’t really fears of bad things, in fact, they might be cute or harmless).

Practice the story.

Practice telling the story until it feels fairly smooth

Tell the story.

Tell the story to the person who needs to hear it.

Notice if it has a positive impact on the person regarding the situation that they were having trouble with.