Metaphors for Living: Stories & Related Experiential Exercises for Individual, Group, & Family Growth

ISBN: 978-1-885473-37-0
SIZE: 8.5 x 11
PRICE $27.95

“Starting with the fairy tales, songs and experiences of our childhood we find ourselves surrounded by stories all our lives.  These stories weave themselves into the fabric of our lives adding texture and pattern, and if we search for the metaphors hidden within the stories, whole new dimensions can be revealed for us to explore.  These metaphors can help us connect with our feelings, memories, and dreams and they can become a source of wisdom and inspiration.”

Stories consist of characters, conflict, and journeys representative of real people and situations. Metaphors for Living is a collection of metaphorical stories and suggested activities for enacting parts of these stories by producing visual art and encouraging group or family discussion and collaboration. Utilizing the storytelling/enactment pairing allows individuals to identify with the story and apply its metaphors to their lives, encouraging them to develop problem-solving techniques and express emotions that promote individual, group, and family growth.


"Metaphors for Living provides creative and tangible tools for seeing and resolving a wide range of life's issues and challenges in a culturally sensitive, ethical, and heart-centered manner. Each carefully crafted exercise provides a clear guideline and focus for implementation; such as stating the goal, the target audience, the emotional risk level, the materials needed, and the specific procedures. Beautifully written and designed, this book will surely open many pathways for creativity and self-discovery."
Joyce C. Mills, PhD, MFT, RPT-S, Director and Founder of The Story Play Center for Creative Change, Co-author of the award winning Therapeutic Metaphors for Children and the Child Within

"The power of metaphor has long been one of the central tools of the experiential practitioner to frame and front-load activities and to bring to life the important messages that can be carried away long after the session. Gerstein expands the use of stories beyond the metaphor offering a plethora of activities to engage us. Wonderful tales of life reveal the barriers that might be encountered by individuals and groups. Whether your work is in the classroom, training room or therapeutic setting this book is bound to be a resource you reach for over and over again. And when you're not using it at work it is great for bedtime storytelling."
Marianne T. Scippa, MS, MHSA, RPP, Organizational Development & Renewal Solutions

"I enjoyed reading Metaphors for Living and feel that it would be an excellent resource for application with a wide variety of populations. The book does a great job of implementing practical application of the metaphors that come from within the stories. Gerstein has created an exceptional tool for use in therapeutic settings with families, groups and individuals."
Marilyn Wendelbo, MEd, LPC, RPT, Co-author of Assessment & Treatment of Behaviorally Troubled Children, Adolescents & Young Adults

Excerpt from the Book

Table of Contents

Stories & Related Exercises for Individual, Group, and/or Family Growth
Of Masks, Boxes, Doors and Hearts
A story and related mask-making exercise about examining the mechanisms and roles that one hides behind to create personal safety and those that one would like to use in the public world but, for whatever reason, chooses not to.
From the Ashes
A story and exercise about the lessons learned from seemingly adverse situations.
Got to See the Mountains
A story and exercise about identifying and achieving important goals in life.
The One-Winged Angel
A story and exercise about having the kind of faith and determination that can create “miracles.”
Future Molds/Adult Version/Child Version
A story and related exercise that explore painful personal experiences and imagine positive future possibilities.
The Shell
A story and creative arts exercise that focus on creating a “safe place” and learning when and how to use it.
Covered In Mud
A poem and creative arts exercise that provide a forum for group members to receive feedback.
Coming Out of the Dark
A story and exercise about recovering hope after a painful experience.
Into the Clouds
A story and related exercise that provide a forum to honor those loved ones who have died.
Getting Warmer
A story and structured exercise to assist individuals in learning to recognize and honor situations that reinforce their well-being rather than hinder it.
How Much Is Enough?
A story and creative arts exercise in discovering the value of what is important to one’s self.
The Passing of My Teddy Bear
A story and creative arts exercise that give one permission and a structure for memorializing a loved one (human or animal) who has died.
Join Hands Without Guns
A poem and creative arts exercise that experientially reinforce Dr. Martin Luther King’s message of nonviolence.
The Land of Kudos
A fable and related exercise that demonstrate the need and power of giving positive feedback.
Desert Island
A story and related exercise that focus on changing patterns of perceiving and doing.
The Donation
A story and related exercise that acknowledge how the group/family as a unit enriches the lives of each individual member.
The Reframer
A story and exercise that focus on developing new and hopeful perspectives around growth-inhibiting situations.
Road to Paradise
A story and creative arts exercise that emphasize identifying and prioritizing one’s life goals and desires.
The Priority Pole
A story and creative arts exercise about leaving the safety of one’s unfulfilled place of status quo and moving toward more desirable ways of being in the world.
A visualization/guided imagery followed by a group-oriented, gift-giving, and gift-receiving exercise. They focus on individual strengths and how these strengths can add to the unity of the group or family as a whole.
The Talking Stick
A story and exercise about learning how to speak and listen within a group or family setting.
The Clan’s Journey
A story and exercise designed to help examine family dynamics.
The Magic Cloth
A story and enactment about “learning how to fly” by acknowledging the power and strength of the family or group unit.
Double Rainbow
A story and creative arts exercise that focus on developing listening skills in a group or family setting.
Grand Pillar to the Sky I
A fable and enactment about a group of people who have become divided into subgroups/subsystems and have chosen to develop a sense of unity.
Grand Pillar to the Sky II
Addresses and hopefully corrects, through a metaphor and accompanying ritual, any unhealthy cliques, subgroups, or subsystems that may have formed in the group or family.
Lend Me A Hand
A fable and related exercise that focus on the strength and unity of the family or group.
All for One
A story and exercise that focus on the power of the group.
The Perfect Heart
A story and related activity that focus on what it means to have a perfect heart.
Nurturing Spoons
A metaphoric exercise and related story about how a family or group can nurture one another.
Small Thunder
A story and exercise that give voice to experiences of oppression through multimedia representation.
The Scapecoat
A story and exercise that give permission to rid oneself of the old messages that are no longer of service.
Create a Living Metaphor
An exercise that gives participants an opportunity to write, create puppet characters, and enact a metaphor of their own.
Topical Index
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