A colleague of mind recently shared some interesting data about how useful analogies and metaphors are for scientists in their problem solving. Analogies and metaphors translate ideas from one domain to another and therefore can create a shared understanding between two people from different perspectives.
I have found a few metaphors particularly useful in my work with targeted parents. One tried and true metaphor is that Russian nesting doll. Also known as Matryoshka dolls, Russian nesting dolls are painted wooden figures that contain with them a smaller doll, and in that smaller doll is an even smaller doll, and so on until you find at the very center a tiny wooden chip, often no more than an inch in size. These dolls have a kind of magical quality as it is hard to imagine how anyone could paint the intricate patterned figures on the increasingly smaller dolls nested within the larger ones.