• adolescents;
  • Chinese;
  • counselling;
  • families;
  • metaphors

This interpretative study aims to offer metaphors that describe family meanings from the adolescent’s perspective by encouraging them to give a metaphor with their own explanation on a self-administering essay form. This study has three objectives: to explore the family meanings as a metaphor from the Hong Kong adolescent’s perspective; to reveal any common and unique features of these metaphors; and to search for the possibilities of collecting metaphors from adolescents as a pre-counselling assessment tool. The 12 participants for this study were referred to me for family counselling because of poor self-esteem, loss of life goals or ineffective relationships with their parents. Based on the 12 metaphors, the following five themes can be discerned: (i) gender role in a family, (ii) Chinese culture in a family, (iii) heat in a family, (iv) security in a family and (v) the family as honey and a loan company. Based on the above five themes, there are some common metaphors (e.g. a warm place, honey, a shelter, a boat shelter, a chick and a hen, a volcano, a fire, an oven and a loan company), trans-cultural and unique metaphors (e.g. a wet market and ‘Kung Fu’ experts), and those that are culturally specified. Both strengths and limitations of collecting and analysing metaphors were discussed.