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Exploring metaphor use and its insight into sense making with executive coaching clients

N Emson International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring 2016

The difficulty coaches face in relating to and understanding how clients perceive and interpret situations is that the process for clients making sense of situations is unconscious. This presents a challenge, as there isn’t a direct or obvious route to access a client’s unconscious. Understanding clients’ use of metaphor offers a potential route to access this unconscious process and gain insight into clients’ sense making. The research adopted a critical realism paradigm and used a thematic analysis methodology with semi-structured interviews of eight executive leaders. The findings suggest that metaphor can offer insight into participants’ character and values, and coaches and leaders can use an approach of working with metaphor as a potential route to reveal and understand individuals’ unconscious sense making.

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