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When a Client’s Metaphor Landscape Changes


Practice Group Report

Our topic this month was ‘recognising and developing change’. We spent a short while at the start of the meeting talking about how to recognise a change, once a stable 3D metaphor landscape has been established, and about what to do when you recognise it.

Some ways to recognise change that were mentioned were:

  • The client may comment on something that just happened… “Ooo” or “That’s interesting!”
  • The client may give non-verbal cues that something different is happening… e.g.:
    • they may change their posture
    • their breathing rate may change
    • their face might light up
    • they might smile or cry
    • they might start looking in a different direction
    • their rate of speech might change
    • their skin colour may change
  • They might find a resource metaphor, feeling or object
  • The metaphor may change or evolve
  • The may use a different tense (e.g. present or past instead of future

If we imagine a change is happening or has just happened, we can ask:

  • What’s happening now? … or
  • What just happened?

Once a change has been identified, the next step is to develop it, using the developing questions:

  • Is there anything else about … ?
  • What kind of … is that … ?
  • Where / Whereabouts is … ?

Next, evolve the change and find out what is happening to the rest of the landscape:

  • Then what happens?
  • When … what happens to … ?

As it takes a while to establish a metaphor landscape as a context for any change to happen, we agreed to work for longer than we usually do in a practice group and so half of us took the facilitator role and the other half the client role.

Here are some of the comments that were made in the discussion we had at the end of the meeting:

  • [Facilitator] It was tiring to work for longer – and a good experience.
  • [Facilitator] As we kept going, the landscape kept evolving so it was difficult to know what ‘counted’ as a change. (We agreed that any new element / metaphor that appears in a system should be developed.)
  • [Client] It was lovely to have that space created, allowing it to unravel.
  • Two clients experienced change from external to internal:
    • “I want to find a niche” (metaphor of looking ‘out there’) to “What I do” (internal)
    • “I want my boss to agree” to “I accept my boss may not agree”
  • [Client] When my facilitator did not stay clean, they became ‘too present’ for me.
  • [Client] When a change happens it is important to get the client to notice what has happened rather than point it out to them.
  • [All] It was good to get feedback from each other.

I enjoyed the meeting, and hope you all did too. And we may well do something similar next time, so if you were a client you can be a facilitator next time, and vice versa.

Image by Desha from Pixabay

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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