A Framework to Explore and Transform Client-Generated Metaphors in Applied Sport Psychology

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Pete Lindsay Sheffield Hallam University

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Owen Thomas University of Wales Institute

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Gemma Douglas Sheffield Hallam University

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Metaphors are pervasive in everyday language, thoughts and actions (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). The field of sport psychology, and more explicitly practitioner-client dialogue, remain exposed to such communication. Despite the prevalence of metaphor in our daily interactions, metaphorical discourse is often ignored, or unknowingly used in therapeutic settings (Jinks, 2006). However, noticing a client’s use of metaphor may provide an opportunity to work within the athlete’s metaphorical landscape (i.e., the sum total of their symbolic perceptions, Lawley & Tomkins, 2000) to facilitate therapeutic change (Kopp, 1995). Based upon established mainstream approaches, the present article proposes a composite framework for working with client generated metaphors in sport psychology practice (cf. Kopp, 1995; Lawley & Tomkins, 2000; Sims, 2003). The framework is contextualized through an exploration of case examples derived from the authors’ experiences of working within the metaphorical landscape of a series of clients. The article concludes with various implications for the work and training of applied sport psychologists.

Lindsay and Douglas are with the English Institute of Sport and the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, S95DA, United Kingdom. Thomas is with the School of Sport, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, Wales, UK.

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