Substance Users' Metaphorical Change Talk during Motivational Counseling Sessions in Finnish Probation Service

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal 6A P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Harri SARPAVAARA, University of Tampere, Finland
Past research has shown that metaphors are pervasive in language, thought and action. Metaphors are also claimed as powerful devices for change that offer new information about reality and will help generate different alternatives to perceive and organize the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that metaphors have become central to therapy where change is a definitive aspect. Change is also the goal of motivational interviewing (MI), a widespread therapeutic intervention that has become a well-recognized approach to counseling. It is designed to strengthen intrinsic motivation to specific goal with particular attention to the language of change. In recent years, several studies have demonstrated that clients’ change-related language during sessions is an important part of successful MI. However, there is a paucity of research investigating the metaphorical aspects of the client’s language during MI sessions.

                      The aim of my ongoing study is to expand on the current understanding about clients’ change talk during MI. This paper explores substance-using clients’ metaphorical talk about change during MI sessions in Finnish Probation Service. The analysis is based on videotaped and transcribed data consisting of 98 MI-sessions. Sessions were videotaped in 12 Probation Service offices in Finland in 2007–2009.

                      The preliminary data analysis reveals that the use of metaphors is common in connection with change-related talk. The most common conceptual metaphor was CHANGE IS A JOURNEY. The other conceptual metaphors of change were CHANGE IS UP, CHANGE IS IN A HANDS, CHANGE IS A CONSTRUCTION SITE, CHANGE IS A GAME, CHANGE IS A STRUGGLE, and CHANGE IS LIGHT.

                      In general, it is concluded that this qualitative analysis provides evidence for the value of the role of metaphors as vehicles of change in substance use treatment.