Dr. Robert Barner wrote this insightful and useful article on career coaching using Visual Explorer™ as the tool for metaphorical self-construction by the coachee. His conclusion:
“In summary, visual metaphors appear to constitute an important part of a client’s narratives and may provide a useful method for helping individuals integrate emotional and symbolic aspects of their life experiences and career aspirations.”
Barner, Robert W. (2011). Applying visual metaphors to career transitions. The Journal of Career Development, February 2011, vol. 38, no. 1, 89-106.
Abstract: This article makes use of a case study involving two career professionals to show how visual metaphors can be used as an important part of a constructivist approach to career counseling. It discusses how visual metaphors can serve as an effective methodology for encouraging adults to engage in the self-review of career transitions, discusses comparative approaches to the use of visual metaphors, and explores potential applications of this methodology to career counseling.
Here is an excerpt. The full text may be obtained at SAGE Journals Online.
“Metaphors can serve as an important interpretive vehicle in helping individuals construct and make sense of their own career narratives. Peavy (1998) contends that‘‘our lives are lived out metaphorically and mythically. Deprive people of their stories and you leave them paralyzed in their actions and stuttering in their words’’ (p.31). Metaphors, which have been defined as ‘‘the understanding of one kind of thing in terms of another’’ (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p. 5), possess several qualities that make them potent conveyers of personal and organizational experience. They are compact, enabling a single word, phrase, visual symbol, or object to convey a broad array of interrelated thoughts, feelings, and beliefs (Ortony, 1993).
“Because metaphors are incomplete, in that they merely suggest or imply rather than attempt to explain in a literal sense (Ortony 1975), they ‘‘leave room for the imagination to fill in details’’ (Trice & Beyer, 1993, p. 99). This incompleteness also draws our attention to those dominant features that are commonly associated with a given metaphor. Thus, the individual who describes herself as ‘‘caught in an ever-tightening vise’’may begin to view her career through this metaphorical lens, eliminating from viewother interpretative frameworks.
“Within the counseling process, these unique characteristics allow metaphors to serve as powerful symbolic vehicles for giving voice to clients’ life experiences (Amundson, 2005; Hoskins, 1995; Lyddon, Alison, & Sparks, 2001; Rule 1983). Through the use of metaphors, individuals may uncover tacit assumptions aboutself and world that subtly shape their views of life events and possible futures (Lenrow, 1966; Lyddon et al., 2001). Metaphors also appear to support counseling by facilitating the expression of emotional states and experiences that may otherwise difficult to convey (Carlsen, 1996; Fox, 1989; Lyddon et al., 2001; Siegelman, 1990). Similarly, McMahon (2006) contends that the use of metaphors in career counseling may serve as a vehicle to move ‘‘away from the conscious mind and prior meaning structures into uncharted territory where new meaning may be created’’ (p. 21).
“Although the focus of most metaphor research has been on the use of verbal metaphors, individuals frequently make use of such nonverbal metaphors as drawings, icons, or artifacts to give voice to their personal experiences (Fox, 1989; Stein,1994). Meyerson (1991) has proposed that visual data collection methods such as pictures or images provide several advantages over the use of more traditional diagnostic methods such as organizational interviews. These advantages include facilitating the ability of individuals to express emotionally charged issues and reducing the impact of social-desirability effects (Meyerson, 1991, pp. 263-266).
“In summary, visual metaphors appear to constitute an important part of a client’s narratives and may provide a useful method for helping individuals integrate emotional and symbolic aspects of their life experiences and career aspirations. The current study attempts to extend this area of research by using two cases to illustrate how visual metaphors can be used to help individuals construct meaning from career transitions and to envision potential opportunities that exist within those transitions.”
2010 Reprints and permission: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.navDOI: 10.1177/0894845309359287http://jcd.sagepub.com
Dr. Robert Barner, Associate Director with the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education & Human Development at Southern Methodist University, and the author of the forthcoming book, Accelerated Leadership Development (Jossey-Bass, scheduled for Q4/2010) has been applying Visual Explorer to both organizational assessment and career coaching.