Using football metaphor to engage men in mental health services

Spandler, Helen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0970-5141, Roy, Alastair Neil orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4807-7352 and Mckeown, Michael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0235-1923 (2014) Using football metaphor to engage men in mental health services. Journal of Social Work Practice, 28 (2). pp. 229-245. ISSN 0265-0533

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This paper is an account of a small scale exploratory study about the use and value of football metaphor as a device for facilitating therapeutic work. It is based on an evaluation which used a range of qualitative and quantitative approaches. In this paper, we selectively draw on the qualitative data to provide examples to inform our discussion. We illustrate various ways in which football metaphor can support therapeutic change: by aiding initial engagement, facilitating mutual support, enabling self-understanding and motivating change. We relate our analysis to the literature about the therapeutic value of metaphor and highlight the salience of using football metaphor in a group-based setting for men who are often seen as ‘hard to engage’ in therapeutic support. With some caveats, we argue that football metaphor offers a potentially rich and flexible therapeutic resource.

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