Sport, scales, or war? Metaphors speech-language pathologists use to describe caseload management

Belinda Kenny, Michelle Lincoln

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Professionals' experiences, perceptions, and attitudes may be reflected in the metaphors they use to describe and discuss important professional issues. This qualitative study explored speech-language pathologists' experiences of caseload management through metaphorical analysis. Metaphors provided a lens for reflecting participants' lived experiences and professional knowledge construction. Data was obtained from 16 practising speech-language pathologists during individual work place interviews. Participants included new graduate and experienced speech-language pathologists who were employed in hospital and community settings. Metaphors for caseload management were identified from participants' transcribed narratives, then coded and organized into themes. Participants produced a total of 297 metaphors during professional practice narratives. Thematic analysis indicated that participants used three salient metaphors of sport, measuring scales, and war when they addressed caseload issues. Metaphors of sport, scales, and war reflected speech-language pathologists' concerns about managing clients efficiently, perceived caseload burdens, and the conflict they experienced when resources were inadequate. These metaphors may also represent a continuum in speech-language pathologists' personal and professional responses to caseload demands. Shared metaphors may contribute to the professional socialization of individuals entering a profession and to changing or maintaining workplace culture. Hence, speech-language pathologists need to consider the impact of using metaphors of sport, measuring scales, and war during interactions with clients and colleagues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-259
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


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