Getting to the Heart of the Stuck Couple’s Story

Peggy Papp on Using Metaphor for New Insight, Fresh Language, and Forward Movement

Rich Simon

How can a therapist cut through a couple's intellectualizations, defensiveness, and ritualized use of language?

According to legendary couples therapist Peggy Papp, the key is to bypass the language and explore the metaphors that represent each partner’s experience of the relationship.

To do just that, Peggy refined a method she calls “couples choreography.”

In this video clip, Peggy describes one of her earliest uses of this approach—inviting each partner to visualize, enact, and describe their version of the relationship. Through this process, the partners gain new insight about what’s really happening and fresh language for talking about it.


Peggy Papp is a senior faculty member of the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York City. She’s the author of numerous articles and books on family therapy, including The Process of Change, and co-author of the landmark book, The Invisible Web: Gender Patterns in Family Relationships. This clip is taken from her session in our creativity video course:

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Topic: Professional Development | Couples

Tags: Ann Randolph | consciousness | couples choreography | couples therapist | Courtney Armstrong | creativity in the consulting room | Erving Polster | family | family therapy | Jeffrey Zeig | mind-body | Peggy Papp | relationships | Stephen Gilligan | Steve Andreas | talking | therapist | therapy

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