Title

The Metaphors They Carry: Exploring How Veterans Use Metaphor to Describe Experiences of PTSD and the Implications for Social Work Practice

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2014

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Colin Hollidge

Abstract

Working with military veterans poses significant challenges for social work practitioners. Among the most notable are learning to appreciate military culture, understanding military jargon, and engaging veterans who have experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The purpose of this project was to explore veterans’ use of metaphor in describing experiences of PTSD and to consider the therapeutic value of metaphor for social work practitioners. Using a secondary data analysis design, 359 online video interview segments of 56 veterans were reviewed with respect to the way that metaphor was used to describe experiences of PTSD. The metaphors identified in the secondary data were analyzed inductively and deductively by deriving themes from the metaphors that veterans used and associating them to conceptual themes identified in the literature on military culture. The findings indicate that veterans make use of metaphor to describe how PTSD once dominated their life, how they came to manage their PTSD symptoms, and how they used their experience of PTSD to promote a survivor’s mission. The findings also suggest that the metaphors that veterans use can also be associated with the conceptual themes identified by the research. These findings underscore the value of using metaphor in therapy with veterans who have PTSD as metaphor has been shown to facilitate cultural accommodation, symptom mitigation, and narrative integration.

Keywords

veterans and metaphor, PTSD and metaphor therapy, veterans' use of metaphor

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.