From the FAQ
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.
Clean Language is a simple set of questions developed by counseling psychologist David Grove. These questions are used with a person's own words to direct their attention to some aspect of their own experience.
Get a taste of Clean Language and how it can help you become #DramaFree during a friendly evening session.
Our 1-day introduction to Clean Language provides you with the basic skills and ideas you need to get started.
Take 6 days to learn a complete framework for motivating yourself and others to make deep and lasting changes. Learn how to uncover metaphors and patterns that are beneath the surface. This course is available all around the country and in the USA.
The original process for developing personal and professional metaphors and using these to create an engaged, interactive and unified team.
Join us for a weekend of intensive coaching in a small group environment to help you break through old patterns or take a giant step towards a goal.
From the blog
In our trainings we often talk about encouraging clients to physicalise their metaphors - sometimes during a session and sometimes between sessions. 'Physicalising' means taking a metaphor and embodying it, making it 'real' - or as real as possible...
Where is your creative place? Do you have one? How can you find it?
Meet Rachel Gilmore! With Neil Pavey, she runs Brighton-based 'Being Clean' which hosts a monthly practice group and Clean Language training events.
I had heard that Heather Cairns-Lee had been given a prestigious academic award for her PhD in which she used Clean Interviewing to find metaphors for leadership, so when she attended our Adventures in Clean event I caught up with her to find out more…
Kat Elliott tells us about using Clean Language to ‘gamify’ a strategy for overcoming procrastination and getting big stuff done.
This is a question that is often asked during
trainings such as Clean Language: Core Skills or Systemic Modelling. Participants become very enthusiastic about the
skills they are learning and begin to think about putting them into practice –
and then they hit a problem: “I don’t know how to describe this in such a way
that people will understand what I am talking about.”
Read about Dolly's Personal Journey weekend with Sue Charman and Marian Way at Sue’s lovely home in Devon.
During her recent trip to Malaysia, Caitlin was interviewed by BFM radio about Clean Language and how it can be used to avoid misunderstandings and promote clarity in teams and businesses.
This great video was created by my friend Bev Martin, who hosts our trainings in Portland, Oregon. Bev recently interviewed one of last year's Clean Language: Core Skills participants, Susan Liesemer. Susan is a therapist and healer who uses massage, NLP and hypnotherapy - and now Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling - to work with her clients.
A couple of words often used in association with Clean Language are ‘curiosity’ and ‘neutrality’. A Clean Language coach is accepting of everything a client says, not favouring one piece of information over another, but remaining neutral - like an impartial observer.
From Shakespeare to Shelley and from advertisers to politicians, people across the world have leveraged the effects of metaphor to convey new ideas and concepts and to appeal to our emotions.
Clean Language was developed by David Grove in order to help people to access more information about their own experience, rather than be influenced by a therapist’s ideas. He did not want to lead his clients. Of course, there are many more contexts where it's important not to lead someone...
When I first heard about Adventures in Clean way back in January I had an urge to attend. I have a number of health issues and done a lot of work on them but it had become very hard and I had lost inspiration. Then, about a month before the weekend, someone had posted a link to an article of Penny and James’s about metaphors for healing on Facebook. I remember reading it and thinking, “I really want one of those. I want an all-encompassing metaphor, that’s not just about what’s happening now.”
A look at the powerful connection between storytelling and Clean Language by professional storyteller and Clean Learning associate, Sue Charman.
“Metaphor, that’s how the whole fabric of mental interconnections holds together. Metaphor is right at the bottom of being alive.” ~ Gregory Bateson. This is my favourite from this collection of 25 quotes about metaphor…
Clean Language helps people to explore their own thinking in their own way, to uncover patterns that keep them stuck and to find their own creative solutions. Here are ten ways you can learn more about Clean Language, what it is and how it works:
On page 73 of Clean Approaches for Coaches, I mention that I have collected over 600 'body' metaphors. To start with, here are all those that relate to the head...
Here's a short clip of Steve Jobs talking about life. As you listen, make a note of the metaphors he uses.
We are very excited that Caitlin Walker has given a talk at TEDx Merseyside, which is now available on YouTube. TEDx, an offshoot of TED Talks, encourages local people to run TED-style events which bring people together to spread worthwhile ideas. Caitlin's 20-minute talk is entitled "Clean Questions and Metaphor Models: A Language on Inquiry". In it she tells the story of her quest to find a tool that would allow people to see the rules they and other people were living by and to find ways to challenge those rules in a non-judgemental way.
…do you try again, or give up? There are plenty of stories about how one or two Clean Language sessions radically changed someone’s life. And what about all the sessions that gave someone a fantastic insight or two, but which did not result in the desired behavioural change?
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.
Our Practice Group topic this month was Developing Resource Metaphors. We started with a discussion about what is a resource, concluding that anything could be a resource, depending on how it is used / perceived. Next we looked at how to develop a resource metaphor, including finding the source of the resource and discovering the effects of knowing that.
Our topic for this months Practice Group was Metaphors and Values. This was inspired by conversations with coaches who want to practise their Clean Language skills but do not yet feel confident to use Clean Language for a whole session.
We normally emphasise the need to help clients to focus on their desired outcomes, using the PRO (Problem, Remedy, Outcome) model. For this practice group, we decided to put our attention on the nature of people's problems.
How can we create a workshop that's 'clean' (i.e. attempts to not give people our models, theories, ideas, suggestions, advice and metaphors but instead creates experiences that enable them to learn from themselves and others) AND which has a distinct topic?
The topic for the main part of the Practice Group meeting was physical symptoms, and what difference it could make to pay attention to them using metaphor and Clean Language.
If you're anything like us, you find metaphor fascinating, elegant, sometimes astonishing. When we're working with clients or training people in Clean Language, we often catch each other's eye when we hear someone describing their experience with a particularly arresting metaphor. Sometimes we say aloud what we're thinking: 'Aren't people amazing!'
Our main activity for this month's Practice Group revolved around 'metaphor maps'. Working in threes, with a facilitator, client and observer in each group, the facilitator used Clean Language to help the client model "When I'm _________ at my best, that's like what?" The _________ could be 'learning', 'working', 'coaching', 'parenting', 'cycling'... whatever the client chose.
From Recommended Reading
A Strange and Strong Sensation (DVD)*
Penny Tompkins & James Lawley
This training DVD contains a complete Symbolic Modelling session with on-screen annotation. The client discovers her personal metaphors and symbols and learns how these weave together to form a Metaphor Landscape. She is facilitated to identify the conditions necessary for organic change within this landscape, so that new ways of perceiving herself and her world emerge. Includes 36 page booklet with full transcript and unique three-perspective commentary.
Teaching in Mind
Judith Lloyd Yero
This book examines how fundamental beliefs about teaching and learning affect what teachers do and the results they get. In it, teachers are invited to examine their metaphors for the educational process and to consider how an individual change informed by this self-scrutiny might have a positive impact on their performance.
Images of Organization
This book is a classic in the canon of management literature. It is based on a simple premise: that all theories of organisation and management are based on implicit images or metaphors that lead us to see, understand, and manage organizations in distinctive yet partial ways. It challenges and reshapes how we think about organisation and management in the most fundamental way.