Sunday, June 20, 2021

Helping our patients to surf life with “metaphorical truths”

In medical school, I was taught that depression and anxiety are due to chemical imbalances. So we can give people a chemical to correct that imbalance. I use to think that this was the “literal truth”, but now, I think it’s more of a “metaphorical truth” rather than a literal one.

When dealing with the more logical and objective aspect of a person’s health, it’s easier to find the “literal truths” to guide our actions. You have got a broken arm. This is what it is. This is how we are going to fix it.

However, when dealing with the more psychological aspects of a person’s health, it’s more abstract. It’s harder to find or use the “literal truths” to understand and guide our actions. So in counseling, especially in Acceptance Commitment Therapy ACT, we often use the “metaphorical truths” to help our patients better navigate their more abstract “feeling world”.

Metaphors are a great way to describe an idea or concept in a way that literal truth can’t fully convey, or where literal truths are not yet available. So when using “metaphorical truths”, although it’s not the “literally truth”, it can still be helpful and useful.

Here is one of my favorites.

Life is like a ocean of waves. Sometimes it’s calm. Sometimes it’s choppy. And once in a while, a tsunami comes along. It’s inevitable. We can’t fight it. We can’t run away from it. We simply have to embrace it, get back on the board, and surf it the best way that we can🏄‍♂️

What’s your favorite “metaphorical truth”?

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