The first time I touched the metaphorical associative cards for me was a complex topic technique of asking questions. It is clear that the notorious "Cards are a tool, all envy of the paradigm that you profess" refer us to the basics of psychotherapy, BUT after all it would be desirable to squeeze out from cards a maximum! Especially the eclectic approach has not been canceled.
In this article I will describe the main ways to ask questions when working with associative-metaphoric cards. Information does not pretend to be comprehensive. Rather, it is aimed at activating the search interest. In my mind there is no general classification of psychotherapeutic issues, perhaps we will come to it at the end of the article.
Considering cards as a stimulus that triggers in us associations, experiences, memories, etc. the main issue will be the so-called "loop into reality" or "shuttle" - "What does this card say about you?". But this is only one of the possibilities inherent in the instrument.
Below is the backbone of the "script" of consultation meeting with metaphorical associative cards (MAK):
- Setting up the contact, clarifying the request;
- Proposal of a certain technique-exercise with MACs;
- Dissociated work, immersion in MAKI;
- Shuttle into reality, integration of experience;
- Summing up the meeting.
Although it is quite possible that:
- the meeting begins with an exercise with cards (to clarify the request, for example) and then go to the classics of counseling - a thematic conversation;
- immersion in the card images and the shuttle into reality is done many times during the session;
- the whole meeting is based on metaphorical communication in the context of a cards or by the silent manipulation of card images.
Taking into account all the exceptions, the classification of issues has developed in my mind, based on the stage and purpose of the consultation process.
From the very beginning of the work, the psychologist is faced with the task of establishing contact with the client, creating an atmosphere of benevolence and support, as well as clarifying the purpose of coming to the consultation, formulating the request.
- How do you represent our cooperation?
- How do you think I can help you?
- What would you like as a result of our meetings, in connection with the stated problem?
In systemic family therapy, you can find a number of questions that are recommended to be announced at the initial stage of the meeting. (Who wants what? From whom do they want? From when? For what? ...)
In the existential-humanistic approaches of psychotherapy, as a rule, the clarification of the request occurs in a dialogue, and the process itself is less technological.
The main thing is that the client and the psychologist understand each other and come to an agreement on further work.
Focusing on the request, the client is offered to interact in the card space. Metaphorical associative maps, although they are quite a universal tool in psychotherapy, but still they are not all-powerful. Accordingly, highlighting possible therapeutic problems, I will limit myself to the most frequently encountered.
- Reframing the problem situation, searching for alternatives;
- Work with the client's family system;
- Work out trauma, loss, fear.
- Search for internal resources.
There are several common forms of exercise to achieve these goals:
- Work "blindly" / "openly"
- Combination of words and images (solitaires) / creating stories / drawing /
You can also select the levels of immersion in the tool:
- Dissociated (What happens to the images on the card);
- Metaphorical (What the client sees in the card and relates to his reality);
- Real (What happens to the client in real life).
All these 3 levels are involved in a conversation in varying proportions.
Questions asked at a dissociated level are formulated from a third party. For example: How many percent of anger does a person feel on the card with a knife behind the other?
The metaphorical level allows you to connect the card image with reality. Questions are focused on clarifying the relationship to the card; clarification of feelings, thoughts, impulses; on the interpretation the basic metaphor.
The real level in the focus of conversation and questions keeps the actual events and experiences of the client. This is essentially what he could say without working with associative-metaphorical cards.
Considering all the above, I will further give examples of questions collected from different approaches that can be useful when working with associative-metaphorical cards. I repeat that the information does not pretend to be comprehensive. Rather, it is aimed to activate the search interest.
This form of questions best "works" in clarifying the positions and attitudes that require ranking:
- Which of these images (portraits) will you put on the forefront?
- Which card causes more positive emotions, and what is negative?
This form of questions serves to clarify the differences between assumptions, beliefs, moods, concepts (illnesses), representations, and so on.
- Imagine that the image on the card torn to pieces so that it is simultaneously closer to the other cards (the situation of choice), in what percentage is the card torn and by what criterion?
- If you imagine that all your role energy is contained in a circular "energy" pie, then how much of it (what kind of slice) is contained in the role of a "X"? And how many percent would you like it contain? Due to what role are you willing to increase / decrease energy in this role?
- How much percent of the fear is contained in this card?
- How many kilograms of grievances are in the sack of the figure on the map?
Questions about exceptions to the problem
Comparing the periods when the problem is troubling and when it is not, it is possible to reveal their important differences much better.
- (After describing the actual problem through the maps) How often (how long, when, where) did the problem not arise? What were you and others busy at the time? How did you manage to make sure that the problem did not arise? What else could you do compared to your actions in "unproblematic" times?
- "What else?" Makes our counterpart think, and often for the first time pushes us to think of something further than before.
Questions to change the context
It allows you to look at the problem from an unexpected quarter.
- If we looked ahead (5 years), how did the story sound?
- How could a secondary figure, an object depicted on the map, describe the problem?
- What is the strength of the hero depicted on the map?
- Describing the problem situation, which is depicted on the map, which of its elements should remain unchanged or repeat as often as possible?
Purpose and solutions
- How would a really good result (in time, space, relations) look like?
- What could be the smallest indication that the situation is moving in the expected direction?
- In what time intervals and at what pace could you expect change?
- How do you think, how would the story change if the protagonist was able to curb his aggressive impulses?
- How would the meaning of the map change if a prince appeared next to the princess?
It is worth highlighting the technique of externalizing conversations from narrative approach
The externalized conversation consists in the transformation of the language used by the person to describe the problem so that the problem takes an external position in relation to the person. Externalizing conversations allow a person to take a meta-position and see a number of possibilities. When a problem takes an external position, a person, finding his own preferences, can take responsibility for interaction with it.
Samples of questions that externalize the problem
Sphere of influence: - in what spheres of life the problem has already penetrated? where its influence is especially strong? Does it influence on relationships with other people or feelings? Does it interferes with your thoughts? How did it change your perception of yourself and the history of your life?
Strategies: - How exactly does the Problem manipulate you: what strategies, methods and tricks does it use to try to lead your life? How do you oppose it? Have you invented any techniques, strategies, tricks that prevent the Problem of leading your life?
The mechanism of interaction: In what ways does the problem tell you that it is there, how does it state its influence on your life? What qualities do you have, abilities, abilities that the Problem is still difficult to depreciate? How do you tell the problem that you will not "obey?"
These questions were taken from systemic family therapy and a narrative approach. Interesting is the possibility of using techniques of art therapy, NLP and other areas in the work with associative and metaphorical cards.
- Arist von Schlippe, Johan Schweitzer. A textbook on systemic therapy and counseling.
- Michael White. Maps of narrative practice. Introduction to narrative therapy.