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February 20, 2018

A Plate Of Food: A Metaphor For Counseling

By Dr. Richard Boyum

I was recently working with a student/client and the client was struggling with wanting to make the right decision and avoid the wrong one. The problem was that the client was caught up in a false dichotomy, in which it was believed that there was only one right choice and everything else was wrong. After listening intently to the client's problem, I said that following: “I want you to think of the issue that you are dealing with as a plate of food…a nutritious meal. I want you to be aware that you can have completely different foods on a plate and that each plate provides a balanced and nutritious diet.

The choice of what foods go on a plate really is a function of individual taste. Ethnic foods may be an example. You can have a balanced diet and eat Oriental food or perhaps Mexican food or traditional American food as well. This is how I want you to approach your problem. Realize that there are many alternatives to achieving your goal. You need to make a series of choices that are related to your particular tastes in this situation. How the choices you make may be in fact very different from something that somebody else would do. Yet it is appropriate and workable for you…” As a counselor see if this nondichotomous technique can work for you.