A metaphor treatment for smoking
Metaphor Therapy Technique

Metaforming: Stopping Smoking

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Metaphor Therapy and Smoking

Metaforming Therapy uses a natural ability that we all posses: the ability become aware of how we represent our past. The basis of metaformation (and cognitive modelling) is that if you can change the metaphor of how you represent the past in your mind, change the mental picture you have of it, you can change how that experience affects you emotionally now. The following excerpt from a stop-smoking session demonstrates how with metaphor transformation the change can be simple and fast, happening almost instantly.






Is there anything that would stop you stopping smoking?

Standard Question: Probing for unconscious beliefs

I wouldn't feel complete without it.


And what would not smoking feel like?




And not having freedom is like what?

Try for a metaphor

Like the habit has got me.

Symbol 'the habit'

And what else about that habit that has got you?


Like it... there are hands.


And hands...


It has got me by the shoulders.


And the habit has hands and it has got you by the shoulders.... and what else?


It's like a shadow lurking behind me.


It's like a shadow lurking behind you....


With big claws in my shoulders.


And that habit has hands and it's got you by the shoulders with big claws and it's like a shadow lurking behind you...


And what is the purpose of that shadow behind you?

Probing for the protective benefit

A companion in the hard times.

Belief: secondary benefit

And what would you like to happen to that shadow.....?

Suggesting change

Send it away.


And can you send it away?

Testing Capability

It's gone.

Spontaneous deletion



Shrivelled up and disappeared.

Cleared residuals as well.

And it has gone completely?




And how does that make you feel?

Testing for change

Free. Different. Something has changed.



This dialog shows that change can happen spontaneously the moment the client becomes aware of the metaphor their mind uses to represent their problem. A few questions were used to develop the metaphor, and those led to the awareness of a 'shadow lurking behind me'. It is speculated that this awareness led immediately to an feeling of unpleasantness and threat and the client spontaneously decided not to have the unpleasantness and so it was sent away. Once the client became aware that it was possible to 'send it away', and therefore briefly imagined sending it away, that was enough of a metaphorical transformation to allow it to 'shrivel up and disappear'.