The metaphor of the therapeutic frame
The structure of appointment based therapy has been understood as a form of containment. People who undergo therapy are required to adjust to the routines of time and place. They must hold their being in the facticity of their mundane literal existence. In contrast, metaphorical meaning is built on the ruins of the literal meaning, opening our world to new possibilities. The power which fictions have to re-describe reality is unleashed.
Metaphors are not just an explanation of one thing by reference to another. They are a juxtaposition that has ‘shock value’, dramatically expanding the meaning beyond the limitations of its elements. Metaphors are of no value if already known and documented (worn out). They are only useful in the innovation of their creation. We can then see reality not in actualities but in potentialities. We have not arrived with a grasp on what type of person we are, nor do we have any prior understanding of what our lives mean. We find these ways of making ourselves meaningful in the things we encounter in life and the stories we tell about them.
When we give an account of ourselves, we take our raw literal encounter with existence and weave it into the structure of language. However, this more like a discovery than a loss. When we understand a narrative our life is illuminated by it, we understand ourselves better, we have been freed from the limits of what we thought the world could be and we are able to be in it in differently. Metaphor is the means by which we see the world anew and we transform our possibilities, if that is, we are willing to be open ourselves to novel meanings.