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Chalk and Cheese


In January 2017, the Online Practice Group tackled the tricky practice of working with binds. (Clients with a bind will find their outcomes collapsing, logic going in circles and knotty problems at the heart of their dilemma.) It was group member Julie Osborn who suggested this topic and she offered up a bind of her own for us to work with. Other members of the group took turns to facilitate her and in between we paused and discussed what was happening and what we might do next.

Julie’s bind was about wanting to finish her PhD, but being so excited by coaching, business clients and trainings that she couldn’t find the time. They required a ‘logical mismatch of attention’.

It was a deep bind that took Julie to some uncomfortable places, but by sticking to the principles of Clean Language and asking clean questions, we had a breakthrough and Julie suddenly found her bind unwound.

This was such a spectacular success for an on-line group, just practising, and pausing regularly to discuss, that I wrote to Julie afterwards and asked how the experience had been and whether her new-found insights were holding out in the real world. This is her reply:

“It was an amazing session – a very supportive and safe place to do some exploring. I’ve reflected on it a lot since and realised I would love to be able to do this for others.

What worked really well for me was when you took a pause to check out what facilitators thought they should do next. I felt that others could appreciate the bind that I was in and hearing that discussion added to my experience and engaged me as an observer of my own problems. As this was such a major bind it was lovely to have a team approach as I can see how one person on their own may get exhausted listening to it.

As a result of the session I am now connecting chalk and cheese. My PhD and coaching are interweaving in new and unexpected ways. Finding that quiet place within me is an unexpected yet amazing resource. I have a fantastic metaphor landscape I can observe any timeI need to check.

I chose binds after reading the bind example in Marian’s book and thinking about some of my clients. I want to improve my clean skills and help other people make changes like this. I’ve signed up for Clean Language: Core Skills and the Fine Tuning rolling programme and will be hopping on and off the train to Fareham to take my journey forward.

Julie’s solution to her bind came from a memory of aresource she had drawn on before – the answer was inside her already and as facilitators, we simply had to help her find it.

The Online Practice group is open to anyone with an interest in Clean Language and comprises members with very different skill levels, which is a positive advantage to the group. Each month we pick a topic and practice in small groups or in one big one depending on what will work best. Over the course of a year, members gain personal insights at the same time as honing and developing their Clean Language skills.

About Sue Charman

Sue Charman's avatar

Sue Charman came to Clean Language from a theatre and storytelling background, fascinated by metaphor, inner landscapes and our own capacity for change, all of which are areas where story and psychology overlap. She discovered Clean Language via Caitlin Walker’s TedX talk and trained with Clean Learning during 2012, becoming a Level One Clean Facilitator in October of that year. She experiences both facilitation and training as inspiring, exciting and empowering for herself and others. Sue also runs “Wood Sisters”, a women’s modern mystery school combining meditation, myth, sacred time in nature and crafts.

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