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Thread: Deep issues and 'clean'

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Deep issues and 'clean'

    Hi at cleanforum, I have to state something that i have been thinking about for a while. Many of the audio downloads i have listened to in recent months contain issues that i would probably not say were 'deep' therapeutic issues. Now i do not wish to disrespect anyones issues because as we all know these are all subjective and what is serious to one is not serious to another. However, from a therapists point of view I have not seen or heard any 'meaty' issues as of yet. How does 'clean' hold up with serious emotional problems, like for instance, trauma, like for instance past abuse, like for instance diagnosed clinical depression. I would like to hear from any counselors/therapists who have appleid 'clean' in these or other areas.

    With respect,

    Last edited by phil; 17 November 2008 at 10:18 AM. Reason: Correct typo in title

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Adding to last post..

    I should add to the last post that I am not a coach. I am a counselor who works in domestic violence and have to see not only the perpertrators of DV but also the 'affected' family members who have endured verbal to physical abuse. My main concern (as i will be doing 'clean' training when James and Penny come to Australia early next year) is this...

    Is 'clean' robust enough for the above?

    thank you again.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK


    Thanks for bringing this up, silverfox.

    Clean Language was specifically developed by David Grove in response to his working with clients who had experienced traumas of various kinds, including abuse, rape and war experiences so I would say a hearty 'yes' it's robust enough. Here's a snippet from Penny Tompkins and James Lawley's book "Metaphors in Mind".

    In the 1980s he [David] developed clinical methods for resolving clients’
    traumatic memories, especially those related to child abuse, rape and
    incest. He realised many clients naturally described their symptoms
    in metaphor, and found that when he enquired about these using their
    words, their perception of the trauma began to change. This led
    him to create Clean Language, a way of asking questions of clients’
    metaphors which neither contaminate nor distort them.

    The articles here cover David working with deep issues. There are some videos around of David working with these clients using Clean Language, perhaps Penny and James will show you some when they come to Australia. David also wrote a book with Basil Panzer called 'Resolving Traumatic Memories' which I do not have but from the title I guess covers the area you're interested in.

    I'm glad you mention the subjectivity of judging something to be 'meaty' or otherwise. One of the benefits of working in metaphor is that it is possible for the client to keep the actual details of what happened to themselves, since the metaphors 'stand for' the issues. So a session that may look like a bland sausage roll on the outside may be a fiery chilli on the inside!

    Also in the demos you have heard, there may have been deliberate selection by facilitators or self-selection by clients as to the 'meat' content of so public a demonstration.

    It's also true to say that many use Clean Language only in coaching, where typically facilitator and client tend to avoid the 'meaty' areas of their psyche.

    I wonder if this makes Clean Language coaching more vegetarian in style?

    I hope others may give some examples of deep work with CL and SyM which I do not have time currently to look up.


  4. #4

    Default Serious, Deep and Robust

    Silverfox, I agree with everything Phil says about using Clean Language with "serious emotional problems". And your question may reveal a common misunderstanding about CL. As I see it, David Grove's Clean Language is not in itself a therapeutic, coaching or any other process. CL is simply a language model which comprises:

    - a number of questions which James and I categorised into two main groups 'basic' (i.e. used most of the time) and 'specialised' (i.e used less often and only when the client's in-the-moment circumstances warrent).

    - A 'syntax' for asking the questions.

    - Guidance of how to use your gestures, eye-points, voice tone and other non-verbals to compliment and enhance the effect of the questions.

    And that's it. Clean Language can be used in many ways and with many different process — to effect change or otherwise. We happen to think it is superb for modelling and for other applications that start from honouring the client's internal world, just as it is. (I know most therapies say they do that, but if you study transcripts of what therapists and coaches actually do you'll find that this is far from true, even if much of the time it happens unwittingly.)

    James and I created Symbolic Modelling as our way of showing people how they can work almost exclusively with Clean Language to facilitate meaningful change in a wider range of contexts than the "serious emotional problems" that David Grove was such a master at working with.

    Over the 13 years James and I have used Clean Language we have worked with clients who have experienced physical and emotional trauma either as children or as adults, and we have worked with clients who have been diagnosed with all manner of DSM4 conditions.

    However, James and I really attempt to set aside any assumptions we might be tempted to make based on prior diagnosis, and instead take our lead from the organisation of the client's subjective experience (Metaphor Landscape in our jargon) and their behaviour as expressed in the here-and-now.

    In my experience, the 'depth' of the work using Clean Language is based on five factors:

    - How deep the cient is willing to go
    - How deep the process needs to go for the client to increase their well-being
    - How skilled the facilitator is at using Clean Language
    - How skilled the facilitator is recognising and utilising cues from the client that they are ready to go (or have just gone) deeper
    - How experienced the facilitator is as a therapist/counsellor in working in these areas.

    I look forward to working with you in Australia and to finding out how you work with your clients in this most important therapeutic area. I think you'll find Clean Language is "robust" enough for the situations you describe. I also suspect that you will discover that Symbolic Modelling gives you an expanded way of working with, and thinking about, your clients. I hope so.



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