Center for Coaching Certification

Metaphors in Coaching

By Paul Kawkabany – in Coaching By Paul Kawkabany

From the Greek “metaphora” which means “transport”, the metaphor has several advantages in coaching.  The metaphor is one of the effective means to overcome blocking situations, to support or to bring about change.  It consists of taking a step back from a given situation by working with your imagination.  This tool is of great importance as it creates space for solutions to emerge by working on imagery or a visualization in the form of a metaphor.  It opens other perspectives for the coachee.

The art of metaphor in coaching makes it possible to make connections between ideas and situations that are, at their core, totally different. The solution can appear spontaneously through the metaphor.  If the client is off-center they may tend to lock themselves in.  With a metaphor, the client can step back a short distance, gain height, and change their point of view.  This opens up the possibilities.

What is a metaphor?  They are anecdotes, examples, stories (real or made up), or proverbs that occupy and distract the left brain and activate the right brain.  They plug directly into emotional intelligence.

Ask the client:

  • In this situation, what do you feel like?
  • In this situation, how do you see yourself?
  • What image do you think of when you say that?
  • If you gave a shape or a color to this image, what is it?
  • What adjectives or phrases come to mind?

The coach rephrases to the client what they feel or envision.  They invite the client to express themselves in another way: “It makes me think of …”

As learned in coach training, this opens the door for learning and exploration.


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