This was the last piece of the puzzle, and the beginning of the first full codification of what would become "Metaphoric Affect Processing." Going forward, the more the process was refined the more reliably my poets derived benefits.
Their emerging poetic texts became emotional holograms as their feelings appeared in the space between us, like art, for us to appreciate.
Early on in the development of the metaphor mirror I used the acronym MIND, metacognitive introspection and non-analytical dialogue, to capture what we were doing.
In Italian - the language we were working in - we were speaking metaforicaMENTE (metaphorically), where MENTE stood for metaphoric exploration, naming and transformation of emotion.
I developed an in-hospital project, Progetto Patient Poeti, and began gathering anecdotal data and then formally researching and documenting the positive effects of metaphor-mirroring.
Today, with so much growth still on the horizon, metaphor-based interviewing facilitates perception, description, transcription and transformation of complex emotion all in one effortlessly artful self-report. The work is profoundly relational, involves both patients and staff, and offers a blueprint for easily replicable and intrinsically empathic communication which supports wellbeing and offers signposts toward problem-solving.
In the crowded halls of Italian public health care, in private practice and in workshops around the world my poets and I have learned how to reliably and quickly create a space in which one's emotional self-reflections can emerge (in free verse, no less, even for non-poets) without subversion by rational self-expression.
Participants are moved and surprised by their own words. Administering the Sense-Metaphor Questionnaire (SMQ) doesn't require a background in psychology. To maximize benefits, participants need only to recite their poetic self-reports, or hear them read out loud.
But most importantly, we feel better - lighter, clearer, more ordered in their thoughts. The selves we discover between the lines our own, magically mixed metaphors give us energy and hope.
Hope appears between the lines of our mixed and moving metaphors, poets and facilitators alike - energized and optimistic.