Every individual has their own unique take on life. As a life coach, it’s your job to connect with a client’s perspective and find ways to guide them toward a life of more passion and purpose. One of the tools you can apply is a metaphor. Metaphors are more than a linguistic device; they are central to the way people make sense of the world and come to decisions (Tompkins, 2006). This can be an informative tool for life coaches. When working with clients, metaphors can bring insight into how that person perceives a situation, their own life, and their goals (Coaching Out of the Box, 2021). Knowing how to interpret and use metaphors effectively during coaching can be a powerful driving force in a client’s breakthrough. Read on to discover how you can apply these techniques to assist clients through challenging situations.
Providing a New Perspective
For the most part, metaphors are not used randomly but are drawn from how people experience their bodies and how they interpret their environment (Tompkins, 2006). Metaphors can create images in a person’s mind that tap into feelings they may not know they have (Coaching Out of the Box, 2021). In other words, metaphors often engage an individual’s unconscious thought. By acknowledging that many thought processes go beyond conscious understanding, metaphors offer a unique perspective into how someone thinks and experiences their reality (Dunbar, 2005).
Those with certified life coach training can use metaphors to help a client view their situation from a completely different standpoint. Through metaphors, clients can apply their imagination to a situation using a story, symbol, or object to chain their viewpoint (Coaching Out of the Box, 2021). It can help to break down their process of thinking, making new links in their mind and unearthing something new (Coaching Out of the Box, 2021). With a fresh perspective, clients can feel invigorated to make positive changes in their lives.
Breaking Down Barriers
As a life coach, you will encounter many clients who have difficulty overcoming a specific challenge in their personal or professional lives. Often, a direct approach to the challenge is met with resistance from the client. In that case, you will need to find alternative ways to break down barriers in your client. A metaphor can be a useful tool in shaking them out of their rut and helping them to find a solution (Coaching Out of the Box, 2021).
Not only does a metaphor transfer meaning, but it can also re-frame the meaning that the client currently holds (Bryant, 2020). As skilled communicators, life coaches can use metaphors to influence change and growth while circumventing the resistance of a direct approach (Bryant, 2021). By using an alternative language to discuss a situation, you can avoid any preconceptions a client has in their mind. You direct their attention to a new solution using shapes, symbols, and images that the metaphor evokes (Dunbar, 2005).
Advice for Students in Life Coaching School
To become a certified life coach, you should know how to interpret subtle metaphors that clients use and apply your own to encourage progress. Practice using metaphors often and develop a list of ones to use when a client might need a new perspective on a situation (Coaching Out of the Box, 2021). At the same time, it is important to develop the skills to identify the language of a metaphor. That way, you can formulate relevant questions to help a client further explore their own imagery (Coaching Out of the Box, 2021). For example, you may ask them to describe what a “light at the end of the tunnel” or being “stuck in a rut” looks like. Students of the life coach certificate program at Rhodes Wellness College will learn to interpret the use of metaphors and analogies and question their clients with empathy.
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Bryant, A. (2020). Using Metaphors for Change, Growth, Coaching and Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.selfleadership.com/blog/metaphors-change-growth-coaching-leadership
Coaching Out of the Box (2021). How to Use Metaphors When Coaching. Retrieved from https://www.coachingoutofthebox.com/coaching-resources/blog/how-to-use-metaphors-when-coaching
Dunbar, A. (2005). Using Metaphors with Coaching. Retrieved from https://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/AngelaDunbar-using-metaphors-with-coaching.html
Tompkins, P. (2006). Coaching with Metaphor. Retrieved from https://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/articles/articles/127/1/Coaching-with-Metaphor/Page1.html