Rocks and rituals in producing therapeutic change

Marci A. Barton, Richard J. Bischoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The ritual technique is derived from Narrative and Internal Family Systems theories. The ritual uses a metaphor of rocks to symbolize the burdening influence and complexity of issues with which clients often struggle. The significance of the ritual is seen and felt by the client through physically managing the weight of their presenting problem in the form of the box of rocks. The therapist encourages the client to identify each rock as though they represented different parts of the client or aspects of the issue with which they are struggling. In labeling the rocks, clients become empowered through breaking down an overwhelming problem into multiple, smaller pieces. Through this process of externalization, issues become easier to work with compared to the larger presenting issue, which is symbolized by the entity of the box. At the conclusion of the ritual, the box is empty and the process of exploring the ritual and the effects of having lightened the clients' load can be extremely powerful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychotherapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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