What Is the Outcome

Just as it is said that every story has a beginning, a middle, and end, so we can say that every metaphor has a Problem, Resources, and an Outcome. Similarly, as the writers of many stories begin by thinking of the end, so metaphors are more easily planned from the Outcome. Let me offer as an example

Story 3, "Kids Can Make a Difference: A Teen Story" This is a story worthy of retelling because of the outcome. Trevor, an ordinary teenager, made a difference to the lives of many destitute people. One night he was watching a television story about homeless people in his own city, as were thousands, maybe millions of others; but their stories are not told for the simple reason that although they had the same beginning as Trevor, they did not have the same ending. Trevor's story would not be a story, either, if he had continued to watch TV and not put his concerns into action. We have a helpful, repeatable, healing story because of the end or outcome.

Dr. Beck Weathers' story of survival on Mt. Everest (Story 72, "Overcoming Adversity: A Teen Story") would probably not have been told by several authors, including myself, if it were not for the outcome. If Dr. Weathers had been among the fifteen who died on the mountain that year it is unlikely that many of us would have heard of him. Amazingly, if he had reached the summit and descended safely we may have been less likely to know about him, as he would have been just one of the 1,200 people to do so in the last fifty years. His story is told because of the outcome. He survived against unbelievable odds after having been written off for dead several times. It is at the end that his story begins, and where it is easiest for us to start planning ours.

This then becomes the first question in planning a metaphor: What is the outcome? Where is the story going? What is it designed to achieve? What is the ending? If you have undertaken an Outcome-Oriented Assessment with the child or the parents, hopefully, you will already have a specific, positive, and achievable goal or goals toward which therapy will be directed. This is where your therapeutic interventions—metaphors or not—are headed.

The outcome is analogous to the destination on a road map where you want to journey. Once you know where you intend to go, then you can ask how do you get there.

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