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Stories and Analogies in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: A Clinical Review

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 November 2004

Paul Blenkiron
Selby and York Primary Care Trust, UK


The transfer of knowledge occurs most effectively through the stories – the narratives – that we tell others and ourselves about our experiences. Cognitive behaviour therapists may incorporate stories, metaphors and analogies within their daily practice, when assessing suitability for treatment, challenging unhelpful styles of thinking, and addressing maintaining behaviours. The collaborative development of stories can enhance rapport, enable clients to gain a new perspective upon their problems, increase personal impact and clarity of meaning, and reinforce clients' motivation to effect therapeutic change. This paper discusses the use of the story, anecdote, metaphor, analogy, and quotation within cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). The contribution of other psychotherapies to these forms of therapeutic communication is outlined. Practical examples of stories and analogies that illustrate the main principles of CBT and its application to the treatment of common mental disorders are described. The benefits and limitations of employing individualized analogies and stories within the therapy session are highlighted.

Research Article
2005 British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies

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