Symbolic Modelling was created by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley when they worked with and observed David Grove over several years, to discover what he was doing to achieve his phenomenal results. They combined David’s ideas with ideas from the fields of cognitive linguistics, systems thinking and NLP to produce a model which could be taught to others to enable them to achieve the same kinds of results as David.
"We define Symbolic Modelling as a process, which uses Clean Language to facilitate people's discovery of how their metaphors express their way of being in the world."
Lawley, J. & Tompkins, P., Metaphors in Mind, page 22
While using Clean Language, a facilitator or coach will often pay particular attention to the key metaphors, or symbols, the client is using to describe their situation. When these are reflected back to the client, they can be used as a vehicle for them to model, or map, the client’s thought processes and resultant behaviour. Hence the term Symbolic Modelling. Working in this way enables clients to understand their own individual patterns of thought and models of behaviour. The coach and client then make use of these patterns to encourage conditions for change to happen if required, or to help replicate a successful pattern of behaviour.