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Meet the Team: Cheryl Winter


Meet Cheryl Winter! Cheryl has been using Clean Language in her work for many years and will be delivering this year’s ILM training in Yorkshire. Cheryl was instrumental in setting up our ILM programme ins 2010 and in this post you can read all about her journey from trainer to coach - and back. (Post updated November 2020)

What were you doing before you found out about clean?

I have been a trainer for what feels like all my life. I studied to be an NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner and did lots of other training, including as a coach and for my Fellowship of the Chartered Institute for Personal Development. I lived just outside London and had a role with Abbey National for 5 years as a Senior Training Consultant – which was a fabulous job. Then my first baby arrived and I was smitten; I wanted to spend more time with her so I went self-employed in 2000.

I loved being self-employed and had lots of work and loads of contacts. Then we moved from London to near Warrington when my husband was promoted. I had a second child and I noticed my workload was reducing. I had two regular contracts with a pharmaceutical company and an international hairdresser and a few outdoor leadership workshops. Yet I was getting rather bored with the training scene. By 2005 I was on a bit of a downer. I was confused as to whether I wanted to be a trainer still and I stood back from my work to contemplate.

And then what happened?

I have always been involved with the Chartered Institute of Personal Development and when they advertised a 1-day workshop with the Northern School of NLP I decided to attend. The workshop was about asking questions around metaphors (aka Clean Language) and although I enjoyed it, I did not have the finances to take it further, so I put the notes to one side, and forgot all about it.

Then at the end of 2005 I met Suzi Sharples who became a dear friend of mine. I had a frozen shoulder and approached her for Bowen Therapy. We connected over our interest in coaching.

How did you get involved with Clean Language?

Suzi invited me to meet one of her friends at a weekend course. The friend was Caitlin Walker and the course was being co-delivered with David Grove.

My welcome by Caitlin was as warm as I would expect from a friend of Suzi, encouraging me to join in and enjoy! As the day developed I soon realised this workshop was about far more than meeting Suzi’s friend. I noticed the questions being used by Caitlin and David and I recalled the earlier event. All was going well until we approached one particular exercise.

We were exploring our timelines, having been asked to lay them out on the floor. I’d laid out several sheets of paper in a tidy line going back to 1990 (the year my mum died although I had not connected to this at the time). David asked me questions about this last piece of paper – and suddenly I knew I did not want to respond. I knew this was about my sad past and pain to do with my mother. I let David know I would prefer not to go there. David asked me a question in his warm calm, slow voice. To this day I have no idea what that question was, but I do know what my answer was: “That’s my private stuff and I don’t want to join in.”

At that point David paused and looked down - a pause that seemed to go on for a lifetime. Then he asked, “And what would you like to have happen?” and I replied, “I would like to watch others and sit this one out,” to which his reply was, “No”. Simple and straight. A man of few words, and as I came to learn, very powerful words spoken with genuine desire to encourage me to explore my world. At this point I felt rather frustrated. Had I really been asked to leave a training course? I picked up my timeline papers and left the room.

I spoke with Caitlin during the break and she encouraged me to return and to work with Suzi. I did go to the place on my timeline, and we went a little further. Yet by now my guard was up and I simply wanted to go home. I recall that evening having many dreams and unsettled sleep. I returned the next day wary of a trainer who had asked me to leave the room.

On day two, the timeline work progressed and a glass box appeared in my metaphor landscape. As I shared my glass box, David asked further questions - and I felt threatened once again. This was opening up a time in my life I had locked away: the pain of my mum dying. And I realised I had also locked away many other happy memories to do with my employers and family. I had locked away training and learning which could now be a huge resource for me. After the workshop, Suzi helped me unpack my timeline further – and the weekend turned out to be the pivotal point of my career transition from trainer to coach. And as my learning of Clean Language progressed, I soon felt honoured to have been part of the timeline weekend and to have been facilitated by David Grove himself.

And then what happened?

I spent the next 6 years shadowing Caitlin when I could, attending practice groups and blending Clean Language into my coaching style. I added to my skills with workshops by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley. I also worked with Caitlin on the PGC in Mentoring and Coaching in Education, including Clean Language, for Liverpool John Moore’s University. Later I met Marian Way and added to my clean skills with her training in Symbolic Modelling (now known as Core Skills) training.

Then in 2009 I went for an interview and they asked me who my formal coaching qualification was with. Bang! I did not have an officially recognised qualification. I had been working closely with Shaun Hotchkiss and when I shared this news with Shaun, it transpired he had been thinking about getting a coaching qualification as well. We decided to find a great coaching qualification provider together.

ILM had some great programmes, so we contacted a local consultant. Shaun and I liked their course and invited the ILM to deliver a course at Shaun’s home in West Kirby, knowing we could easily find a few people to join in with the study. Shaun asked the consultant if we could add a 2-day Clean Language course onto the end of the training. We weren’t expecting the reply from the consultant: “Why do that? Why not just create your own ILM Clean Language Coaching and Mentoring Course?”

After that chat, Caitlin and her business partner at that time, Nancy Doyle, started working on how to become an ILM Approved Centre and in 2010 a number of us attended the first ILM Coaching and Mentoring in Clean Language course in London.

And then what happened?

I worked on the ILM project and I continued to shadow Caitlin. We moved to Yorkshire in 2013, and I took on a directorship at a national neurodiversity company, which reduced the time I could spend on the ILM.

And what happens next?

Now I continue to work with adults in the workplace who are neurodivergent.  Using Clean Language is a brilliant way of modelling out their patterns - which help them to work at their best in some contexts, yet hold them back in others. Clean Space has also helped so many individuals to think outside the box – which is usually where they are most comfortable thinking.

About Marian Way

Marian Way's avatar

A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be… #DramaFree.

Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She’s trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.

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