The use of idiomatic language in psychotherapy
This study quantitatively assesses the use of idioms in psychotherapy sessions of two different clients and the same therapist. Idioms are understood here as phrases that have literal and metaphorical meaning. Moreover, “container expressions” which are based on Lakoff and Johnson’s (2002) metaphor: “bodily and emotional states are entities inside the person, the body is a container for emotions, (e. g. to blow one’s top off, spill the heart)” were studied. The results show that higher number of idioms occur in sessions of more emotional intensity and that bigger probability of therapy success is related to more frequent incidence of container expressions. They also illustrate that the use of idiomatic language in psychotherapy is more or less related to personal communicative and cognitive style of a person. I conclude that when used properly, the “container expressions” can fundamentally contribute to naming the most inner feelings, otherwise expressed with difficulty, and this way they can help with major turning points in therapy.
Eva Březinová, Center for psychological support, z.s., Vrchlabí, Czech Republic
e-mail: ebrezinova1 [at] seznam.cz