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Metaphor in Practice
A Professional's Guide to Using the Science of Language in Psychotherapy
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"Approachable and user-friendly."
The Professional Counselor 

The use of metaphor is central to the implementation of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and is a powerful tool for all practicing psychotherapists. In Metaphor in Practice, psychotherapist Niklas Törneke presents the first practical book to combine the behavioral and linguistic sciences of metaphor, and illustrates how and when to apply metaphors in practice for better treatment outcomes.

The use of metaphors and experiential exercises can help clients gain a deeper understanding of the problems that cause their disorders. Metaphors help clients connect with their values, and often spark the inspiration and motivation needed to make a commitment to change. And while metaphor is central to relational frame theory (RFT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), research now shows its usefulness has an even broader reach.

In this book, you’ll find a scientific analysis of metaphor based on over thirty years of research, as well as trends in research over the last ten years. The book includes an overview of RFT, how metaphor has influenced the community of behavior analysis, as well as available clinical research on metaphor use. You’ll also discover how to create metaphors for functional analysis, distance of observation, and things that matter to your client. Most importantly, you’ll find practical examples of metaphors and clinical exercises you can use in-session.

There are many books on metaphor and psychotherapy, but this is the first book to make the connection between the science of metaphor and the detailed clinical process of using that knowledge. If you are a mental health professional—or simply interested in the science of metaphor—this book will provide everything you need to understand and apply this approach.

Publisher Reviews
  • “This is a comprehensive and compelling read on how to make metaphors work in therapy. It is a light and interesting book that highlights the power and potential complexity of metaphor when harnessed appropriately by the therapist. It covers the scientific underpinnings of how metaphors work, and explains the best way to create a therapeutic context that will enable metaphors to do what they do best: create psychological flexibility in the way in which we relate to ourselves. The work is scholarly and timely, but it is also alive with interesting transcript segments and relevant clinical metaphors. The book is neither dumbed down nor hard to read. In fact, it was pleasurable and interesting, and takes the reader on a journey that will positively change the way therapists use metaphor in their clinical practice.”
    Yvonne Barnes-Holmes, PhD, associate professor in behavior analysis at Ghent University
  • “If you have been craving a sophisticated and thorough discourse on all things metaphor, Metaphor in Practice is the book you need. Niklas Törneke provides a fresh, in-depth analysis of both the scientific role and practical application of metaphors in psychotherapy.”
    Jill A. Stoddard, PhD, coauthor of The Big Book of ACT Metaphors
  • “This outstanding volume examines the use of metaphors in clinical practice. Although many experienced and skilled clinicians often use metaphors quite naturally, few therapists know why they use them and how they can maximize their benefits. This book systematically analyzes the theoretical foundations and optimal use of these powerful tools. Grounded in solid clinical science, metaphors provide therapists with a language to effectively communicate important clinical information that can have a powerful impact on the therapeutic process. I highly recommend this book.”
    Stefan G. Hofmann, PhD, professor of psychology in the department of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University
  • “I have learned so much from this valuable book. Niklas Törneke demonstrates the beautiful synergy between therapeutic and linguistic analysis, and the outcome is both a practical guide and intellectual inspiration for practitioners, researchers, and everyone else interested in therapy and language.”
    Dennis Tay, PhD, assistant professor in the department of English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • “In Metaphor in Practice, Niklas Törneke takes you on a journey that is both intellectually stimulating and incredibly practical. In the first part of the book, he shows the reader how metaphor is central to all aspects of therapeutic work, and provides the reader with an analysis of metaphor that is based on his deep understanding of philosophy, theory, and science. Then, in the second part of the book, he provides a stunning breadth of ways to create metaphors to help clients understand how they are influenced by their environment, get a healthy perspective on their experience, and find a valued direction for their life. The reader will find the chapter on cocreating metaphor especially useful, as it shows you how to move beyond canned metaphors and work cooperatively within the client’s unique history and worldview. Törneke writes with clarity and beauty. I cannot recommend this book enough. It will be useful to anybody who seeks to use language to improve the human condition.”
    Joseph Ciarrochi, PhD, coauthor Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life for Teens, and coeditor of Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology

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