Metaphor and Clean Language: A partnership for organic change

"Metaphor. That's how the whole fabric of mental interconnections holds together. Metaphor is right at the bottom of being alive."

Gregory Bateson, quoted by Fritjof Capra in Uncommon Wisdom: Conversations with remarkable people.

The Cognitive Linguistic revolution was founded on the premise that much of the way humans talk, think, make sense and act is through metaphor. Today, 40 years on, the experimental evidence has not only confirmed that premise, it has shown that the our metaphorical language is intimately connected with our mind and body. The metaphors we use to speak and think make use of the very same neurology our bodies use to move through space and interact with our environment.

There is nothing accidental about the (mostly unconscious) metaphors we use – they are coherent and congruent with our way of being. And because of this they reveal how we make sense of our relationship to ourselves, others and the world. 

Ordinary dialogue involves the interaction of two sets of verbal and non-verbal metaphors. The success of the dialogue will, in large degree, depend on the compatibility, or not, of those metaphors.

Symbolic Modelling developed out of David Grove’s insight that remarkable things happen when one person (the facilitator) decides to operate entirely within the logic of the client’s metaphors. Grove also recognised that a special ‘Clean Language’ is required in order to prevent the unintended imposition of the facilitator’s metaphors and to “ease entry into the matrix of experience”.

We have dedicated the last 20 years to identifying how facilitators can best put Grove’s insights into operation in therapy, coaching, consulting, health, education and more recently academic research.

Recommended reading

James Lawley & Penny Tompkins , Metaphors in Mind

Marian Way, Clean Approaches for Coaches

Who's it for?

Symbolic Modelling can be applied in all manner of ways, and therapeutically, it is ideally suited to working with: hard-to-define feelings that something is wrong, fearful, unsafe, or missing; internal conflicts, intractable and double-binding patterns; and unwanted reactions to trauma. And, it can develop resources that last a life-time and be used to explore the big issues of life—identity, sense of purpose, spirituality.

What's involved?

What's involved?

During this two-day workshop we will demonstrate and you can experience:

  • How a network of idiosyncratic metaphors holds “mental interconnections together”
  • How metaphors are inherently embodied – they just need to be given sufficient time and space to express themselves
  • How  metaphors of space, time, form and perceiver are fundamental ways people organise their experience
  • How the psychoactivity of metaphor provides clients with a continually updating feedback loop that, though a process called self-modelling, creates the conditions for organic and systemic change.

Plus there will be time to practice and receive personalised feedback from acknowledged leaders in the field.

Because of the way Symbolic Modelling and Clean Language adapt to each client’s perceptions, it can be incorporated into many other approaches to increase a client’s awareness of the idiosyncratic deep structures that represent who they are,to increase engagement with their own embodied experiences, and to increase the opportunity for serendipitous changes.

Frequently asked questions

What is Clean Language?

Clean Language is a simple set of questions developed by counselling psychologist David Grove. These questions are used with a person's own words to direct their attention to some aspect of their own experience. Asking these questions in the right context often results in an interesting new insight or the recognition of some new possibility. And if that new possibility is then questioned using Clean Language, the result can be quite profound. Clean questions invite people to consider their experience from different perspectives and they are often surprised by their own capacity to generate new, powerful and useful ideas about their own experience.

More detail

Upcoming events

We're sorry - we don't have any events scheduled at the moment. If you have a small group (6 or more people) who are interested, we may be able to run the event in your area. Please contact us.

{!-- -mailchimp popup -}