Ann’s Anxiety about Cancer

Grovian Metaphor Therapy-A Quadrant III Intervention
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Comments and transcription by Rob McGavock

David Grove conducted the following intervention with a 46-year-old female who was undergoing intensive chemotherapy for cancer at the time. This intervention is a good example of how gentle yet effective David’s work can be. Please note as well that the therapist has a ‘co-therapist’ in the process itself. Instead of having to be clever or presumptuous and come up with all the answers for the person, David asks questions that elicit responses directly from the client’s own experience to provide a solution that is just right for the given situation.

The client is then asked to map (rough sketch) her metaphors. Mapping the metaphors does a number of things:

  1. The client actually gets a visual representation of their constructs.
  2. The map becomes psychoactive in that it encourages a process of healing by seeing what needs to happen. Sometimes interventions occur without the therapist’s help once the mapping process is set into motion.
  3. The map allows the client to see actual progress as it is being made.

Grovian Therapy is very clean in the sense that it does little to nothing to ‘contaminate’ the client’s experience. Questions are carefully selected so that they elicit the client’s own metaphors. While developing information with the client the Grovian Therapist strives to not impose any of his or her own ideas or assumptions on the client.

Grovian Therapy greatly reduces the risk of re-traumatizing the client. By being asked questions that convert information into metaphor, a person can be much more at ease when dealing with difficult life experiences. The participant doesn’t have to give exact descriptive detail of unpleasant experiences. Creating the possibility for resolution without doing so is quite remarkable. Because the client’s information is converted into metaphor it becomes much more tolerable and manageable. Affect is greatly reduced or non-existent. Even aggregates of difficult information can be represented by a simple metaphor. This is very helpful when there is substantial volume of information that would otherwise have to be organized to work with.

Read and observe as David leads the following intervention with Ann. I have provided commentary along with the intervention in an effort to help explain the purpose of David’s questions.

[This is a ‘Quadrant III intervention’. David explains his Quadrant model here.]

Intervention by David Grove

Ann: (Without prompting) “I’m not exactly sure what I want to work on.” (Left hand moves over upper chest.) “I’m anxious here.”

David: “And what’s it like when you’re anxious here” (Points to his own upper chest like she did.)

Ann: “It’s like a waterfall.”

David: “And is there anything else about a waterfall?”

Ann: “There is a whole lot of water falling.”

Comment: David states to the observers that he needs to pull this information back. This is because the waterfall represents the anxiety and in Grovian therapy you can manipulate, or manage time with your questions in order to reduce the current symptom. This also enables the therapist to discover more potential healing resources. The question is:

“What happens just before the water begins falling?

Ann: “It is contained in a pool.”

David: “And is there anything else about a pool?”

Ann: “It is a high mountain pool.”

Comment: David continues to develop the information with “What kind of ?” and “Is there anything else about ?” questions. Developing questions are searching for any information that could assist in the healing process. Developing questions also illustrate structure, the person’s constructs that support the anxiety. The question he selects is:

: “What kind of mountains contain a high mountain pool?”

Ann: “Mountains that are too steep.”

Comment: David continues to define structure with his questions and notice that David is careful to do that by using the client’s own words:

: “What’s on the other side of those too steep mountains?”

Ann: “They are all too steep, I can’t see any other sides. I’m on one of the sides trying to go up. I’m pretty far up, 2/3rds of the way up. I wish it would flatten. I’m pulling up on a good rope.”

David: “Is there anything else about a good rope?”

Ann: “It’s a well anchored heavy rope and I have to lean back to climb. It’s tiring and I want it to flatten out.”

Comment: David continues to pull back because of the strain that is indicated by Ann. This is one of the ways in which re-traumatizing is avoided. The question he uses here is:

: “Where does the ‘too steep’ come from?’

Ann: “The geological formations used to be flatter totally flat. It was a good flat manageable with green grass.”

David: “What kind of grass is that green grass?”

Ann: “It’s a tundra type of grass”

David: “And is there anything else about green tundra grass?”
Ann: “It’s rich and nutritious. There are animals there moose, caribou and other vegetarian animals that find the tundra grass very nutritious. They are happy and well fed. Life is easy there.”

Comment: David continues to pull information back through time in order to search for a powerful “redemptive metaphor” that could possibly heal the original symptom of anxiety. This is done by pulling information back until there is no trauma or turmoil in Ann’s information. Once a redemptive metaphor is found it can be asked to combine with the symptom to see if a resolution of the problem can
occur. The question he asks is:

: “So where does that ‘easy’ of that ‘easy life’ come from?”

Comment: Adverbs, adjectives or nouns may be pulled back.

“From the grass and the right place.”

David: “And where does the ‘right’ of that ‘right place’ come from?”

Ann: “It comes from the appropriateness of the place for the animals. The animals and the place go together. It comes from God and evolution. They may have come from a wrong place. They moseyed here.”

David: “What kind of place could they have been before?”

Ann: “A colder place with less grass.”

David: “And where did they come from before that?”

Ann: “They started at a first time right place that was warmer and greener it was safe.”

David: “And where did the safe of that ‘first time right place’ come from.”

Ann: “There were boundaries that made it safer.”

David: “What kind of boundaries were boundaries that made it safer?”

Ann: “It’s safe here boundaries and don’t wander off like the Garden-of-Eden-not-obvious-answers-of-God.”

David: “And where do ‘non-obvious-answers’ come from?”

Ann: “Places like the pool, the first place I dove into.”

David: “And what kind of diving was that diving?”

Ann: “A tentative, curious and freeing diving. Physically it feels very good.”

David: “What kind of water is that water that you dove into.”

Ann: “It’s green, warm and inviting water.”

David: “And is there anything else about green, warm and inviting water?”

Ann: “I know it’s safe. I can look around the bottom and see the rocks contrasted with snowcapped peaks. I’d like to stay there for a long time.”

David: “And what kind of stay could that be?”

Ann: “A moving around kind of stay and a sitting and swimming kind of stay.”

David: “And are there any other kind of stays?”

Ann: “Curious kind of stay, welcome as I look at all the rocks kind of stay don’t want to stay long or I’ll shrivel.”

David: “What happens when you begin to shrivel?”

Ann: “I need to get out but don’t want to. I’m afraid of shrivelling gotta get out.

Comment: For the first time in this intervention David decides to move time forward with the last question he asked and the next few questions.

: “And what happens next when you’re ‘afraid of shrivelling’ and you’ve ‘gotta get out’?”

Ann: “A side of the pool gets flatter, there are flat smooth stones that I can sit on.”

David: “And then what happens as a side gets flatter and there are flat smooth stones that you can sit on?”

Ann: “It’s not so bad the sun is warm.”

David: “And then what happens when it’s not so bad and the sun is warm?”

Ann: “I’m just sitting there.”

Comment: David now decides to inquire about the place. The more information, the better the chances for
discovering metaphors that can aid in the healing process.

“And what kind of place is a place where the sun is warm and it’s not so bad?”

Ann: “A safer place, behind me the mountain is not as up and down and I could move into the trees. Animals can come and drink from the water.”

Comment: David notes that Ann states that she can move into the trees David asks more questions that can allow time to move forward

: “And then what happens?”

Ann: “I’m reluctant to leave the shoreline now. I’m starting to get sunburned move to the trees.”

David: “And then what happens when you move to the trees as you are starting to get sunburned?”

Ann: “I feel comfortable. I find a pine tree and sit under it. It’s a Scotch Pine. I want to stay there with the Scotch Pine. Pine seems friendly and safe welcoming.”

David: “As you feel comfortable under that welcoming Scotch Pine, what happens next?”

Ann: “The dam starts breaking.”

David: “And as the dam starts breaking, what happens next?”

Ann: “Water trickles out and waters the trees by the green warm water.”

David: “And then what happens as the trees are watered by the green warm water?”

Ann: “It feels ok and loving.”

David: “And then what happens as ‘It feels ok and loving’?”

Ann: “I’m still just standing there.”

David: “And so you’ve got the welcoming pine and the green warm water and trees that are being watered and then what happens as you are still standing there?”

Ann: “I can walk after the water.”

Comment: David remembers the ‘good strong rope’ from earlier in the intervention David asks if it would like to be introduced into the scene. Earlier metaphors that seem viable as resources can sometimes be included to aid in a healing process. It is possible that a rope could be helpful to get over steep mountain sides.

: “And is there anything you’d like to do with a well anchored rope?”

Ann: “I don’t need it everything is flattening out.”

Comment: In this case we find that Ann doesn’t need it. In the world of client metaphors anything can happen. As you notice the whole geography now is flattening out. Ordinary logic doesn’t necessarily apply. Once sufficient work to develop information has been done things begin to shift toward a solution that is just right for the client.

“And then what happens as everything is flattening out?”

Ann: “I come out onto tundra grass. Animals are there moose and caribou. This is a nice place to be.”

Comment: David has now helped Ann journey to a much more pleasant place than the ‘too steep mountains’ that she began with. Because Ann has indicated that this is a ‘nice place to be’ David now begins to emphasize the niceness of this place in order to create a lasting presence that can free Ann of the original symptom of anxiety. “And everything is flattening out, and tundra grass with scotch pines watered by warm green water that trickles out and the pines are friendly, safe and welcoming and there are moose and caribou.” David relates the last statement very slowly and deliberately in order to allow ‘real time’ for this more desirable experience to replace the former experience. After sufficiently wrapping words around this more pleasant experience David then checks to see if the intervention has truly made a difference.

“And then what happens to a chest?”

Ann: “I can breathe I can take in a good deep breath in this place because it is a nice place to be the air smells good and it’s good air and I feel safe here.”

Comment: David rechecks to be sure that the experience is right by asking a question that would allow time to move forward if it needs to. This is because anxiety often denotes an impending position.

: “And then what happens?”

Ann: “It’s okay.”

Comment: David now knows that the intervention is done except for an opportunity to reinforce the experience as viable for any similar future anxiety that could be experienced with the cancer.

: “And there may be another place, and it may be steep and you may be reluctant, but you can find another ‘right place’ and you don’t have to be between ‘a rock and a hard place’.”

Ann: “It feels much better.”

Journey of Words: An Assignment for Ann

Now David can ask Ann to research some of the key words that she used during the intervention. David likes to have participants use dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference books in this process. He chooses words that seem to have some special relevance. The Journey of Words provides deeper understandings and also enhances the healing process. For example, Ann looks up the words moose, caribou, and scotch pine. The book utilized is Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.

She learns that the moose symbolizes the ability of the individual to learn to go into the depths and draw new life and nourishment from it. Also, she learns that the moose is a powerful omen that reflects a long and good life. She learns that the caribou is known for long migrations. Also represented by the caribou is that a new innocence and freshness is about to be awakened or born, and that there may be a gentle enticing lure of new adventures. Along with this there is counsel that the expression of gentle love will open new doors of adventure to her. Scotch pine signifies wisdom, helping to find direction in our search for answers. Scotch pine cultivates inner strength and perseverance. She also learns that by being open we are guided from within by the all-knowing self.

The research that Ann conducts grants new perspective that is now rightfully hers by its kinship to the words that have been expressed by her during the intervention. Grovian therapy provides a number of ways that can be utilized in order to bring about healing solutions that provide a ‘just right’ fit for the participant. It is also very easy to determine when a solution has occurred through feedback from the participant. I hope that you have enjoyed Ann’s journey.

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