Article from www.cleanlanguage.co.uk


First published in Anchor Point Vol. 15, No. 5, May 2001

Metaphors In Mind: A Case study

James Lawley and Penny Tompkins

What do you do as a therapist, teacher, doctor or manager when your client, student, patient or colleague says "It's like I'm hitting my head against a brick wall" or "I'm so wound up I can't see straight" or "Things keep getting on top of me"?

Do you ignore the metaphorical nature of their communication?

Do you unwittingly introduce your own metaphors?: "Why do you continue punishing yourself?" or "I can tell you're stressed ." or "How does that make you feel ?".

Or do you take their metaphors as an accurate description of their way of being in the world and ask questions within the logic of the information?: "And is there anything else about that brick wall?" or "And what kind of wound up is that?" or "And whereabouts on top of you?".

This article describes a way for individuals to discover how their metaphors are organized and, if they wish, what needs to happen for them to change so that they have a different perception of the world.


Neuro-linguistic programing (NLP) has been defined as 'the study of the structure of subjective experience'. There is, however, one domain of subjective experience, autogenic or client-generated metaphor and symbol, that has received little attention. (Noteworthy exceptions are in the work of Robert Dilts, Charles Faulkner, Michael Hall, Arun Hejmadi and Patricia Lyall.)

Working with client-generated metaphors is the subject of our newly published book, Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling. Symbolic Modelling emerged from a four-year modelling project of David Grove and his therapeutic use of 'Clean Language'.

David J. Grove, M.S.

David Grove is a New Zealander whose unique psychotherapeutic approach, experience and style make him one of today's most skillful and innovative therapists.

In the 1980s he developed clinical methods for assisting clients to resolve their traumatic memories, especially those related to child abuse, rape and incest. He realized that many clients naturally described their symptoms in metaphor. When he enquired about these metaphors using the client's exact words, they could consider their symptoms in a new way and their perception of the trauma often began to change. This led him to create Clean Language, a way of asking questions of his clients' metaphors which neither contaminated nor distorted them.

Modelling David Grove

To figure out what David Grove was doing we spent many days observing him working with clients (including ourselves) and spent many more days pouring over recordings and transcripts. We looked for patterns in what he was doing and in the way clients responded. We analyzed how these patterns related to the changes that clients experienced. And we combined the patterns into a generalised model which we tested and fine-tuned -- cycling through observation, pattern detection, model construction, testing and amendment -- many times. We call the result Symbolic Modelling.

Symbolic Modelling in a Nutshell

Symbolic Modelling is a method of facilitating individuals to become familiar with the organization of their metaphors so that they discover new ways of perceiving themselves and their world. It uses Clean Language to facilitate individuals to attend to their verbal and nonverbal metaphoric expressions so that they create a model of their own symbolic mindbody perceptions.

This model of self, or Metaphor Landscape, exists as a living, breathing, dynamic, four-dimensional world within and around them. As they explore this world and its inherent logic, their way of being is honored. During this process their metaphors begin to evolve. And as this happens their everyday thinking, feeling and behavior correspondingly change as well.

Because Symbolic Modelling works with metaphor and uses Clean Language it is particularly valuable for working with the more intangible 'higher logical levels' (core beliefs, identity, sense of purpose, the spiritual), as well as complex and seemingly intractable issues that are not amenable to traditional techniques.

Three Components

The components of Symbolic Modelling -- autogenic metaphor, modelling and Clean Language -- can be used in three ways: to model successful strategies and states of excellence; to facilitate change; and to facilitate individuals and groups to create new metaphors (see diagram).

Three ways of using the components of Symbolic Modelling

The components of Symbolic Modelling can be used together as a stand-alone process. Or any one of them can be used in conjunction with other methodologies. In this article we focus on the use of Clean Language to facilitate a client to change a pattern of symbolic perceptions which had resulted in decades of insecurity, anxiety and unhappiness.

Clean Language

Clean Language is an extraordinary language because everything you, as facilitator, say and do is intimately related to what the client says and does. Since each Clean Language question takes as its point of departure the client's last verbal or nonverbal expression, there is minimal need for them to translate and interpret your words and behavior. And because the client's response always informs your next question, the organization of the client's information leads the interaction. Thus the entire focus of the process becomes an exploration of the client's model of the world from their perspective, within their perceptual time and space, and using their words.

Of course Clean Language influences and directs attention -- all language does that. Clean Language does it 'cleanly' because it is sourced in the client's vocabulary, is consistent with the logic of their metaphors, and only introduces the universal metaphors of time, space and form. At its core, Clean Language consists of nine basic questions which are used 80% of the time:

DEVELOPING QUESTIONS (which hold time still)

Identifying Attributes

And is there anything else about [client's words]?
And what kind of [client's words] is that [client's words]?

Converting to Metaphor

And that's [client's words] like what?

Locating in Space

And where is [client's words]?
And whereabouts [client's words]?

MOVING TIME QUESTIONS

Forward

And then what happens?
And what happens next?

Back

And what happens just before [client's words]?
And where could [client's words] come from?

 

More information on Clean Language can be found in a recent Anchor Point article by Judith Yero, Watch Your Language!

As you will see from the transcript that follows, Clean Language has an unusual repetitive syntax which sometimes appears strange to an observer. To the client, however, the way the questions are asked is wonderfully acknowledging, and encourages them to pay exquisite attention to their symbolic map of their experience.

While Symbolic Modelling is based on David Grove's work and incorporates many of his ideas, he has a different way of describing his approach. Our model draws upon cognitive linguistics, self-organizing systems theory and NLP. It is also shaped by our desire for others to learn the process easily and for it to apply to a range of contexts in addition to psychotherapy.

Symbolic Modelling in Action

Rather than describe the theoretical basis of Symbolic Modelling, we give you a practical example -- a partial transcript from Metaphors in Mind which demonstrates the process in action. At intervals we interrupt the transcript to meta-comment on the process. (Our comments were not part of the session.)

All therapist-generated words are highlighted to distinguish them from words generated by the client. For simplicity we do not identify which one of us asks the question. The client is a male in his 50's.

C1: I started a relationship recently but there's insecurity about the relationship. It's "too good to be true." I find it difficult to enjoy the relationship as I get very anxious when I am not with her. I overwhelm her. I have to hold back. I'm waiting for her to say "I can't take it any more." I was last in a relationship three years ago which I managed to sustain for 2 weeks. When I fall in love I get the feeling of anxiety. I feel almost ill. So maybe I engineer the collapse of the relationship so I can manage the anxiety. It gets worse because I'm aware of the effect. I've had to pull back from the brink a couple of times.

T1: And what would you like to have happen?

C2: I've got to give her room to love me back.

T2: And you've got to give her room to love you back. And when you've got to give her room to love you back, is there anything else?

C3: A feeling that I've got to love her as much as I can because she's not going to be around for that long. It's like I've got to eat all the sweets today even though there will be plenty more tomorrow. "It's too good to be true." I don't believe it will be there tomorrow. I'm not meant to be happy, it's not for me. Love brings me happiness but I can't handle happiness and joy. It's as if I have to live my life in the darkness.

As often happens, the client pours out a mass of information about his situation, describing one painful interlocking conflict, dilemma, impasse and paradox after another. He uses many metaphors to describe his highly complex relationship with women whom he loves: "insecurity", "overwhelm", "managed to sustain", "fall in", "engineer the collapse", "pull back from the brink", "give her room", "eat all the sweets", "love brings", "can't handle"; to name a few of the more obvious. Finally he settles on a metaphor which corresponds to the larger context for his relationships -- his life -- which he has to live "in the darkness." We invite him to start exploring this metaphor.

T3: And when you've got to eat all the sweets today, and you're not meant to be happy and you have to live your life in the darkness,is there anything else about that darkness?

C4: I don't ever remember having been happy. I don't feel I've ever had permanent happiness--sustained happiness. I felt very alone as a child. I don't feel I was ever happy. It's just a feeling within me now.

T4: And you don't feel you were ever happy. And when it's just a feeling within you now, what kind of feeling could that feeling be?

C5: A sad feeling.

T5: And a sad feeling. And when a sad feeling, where is that sad feeling?

C6: In my stomach.

T6: And in your stomach. And when sad feeling is in your stomach, whereabouts in your stomach?

C7: Here [touches stomach].

T7: And sad feeling is here. And when sad feeling is here, is there anything else about that sad feeling?

C8: A feeling sick and nauseous. I can feel it now. I feel very anxious. I hate this feeling.

T8: And you hate this feeling of sick and nauseous and very anxious. And when you feel sick and nauseous and very anxious, does sick and nauseous and very anxious have a size or a shape?

C9: A hand's-span width [makes gesture with right hand].

T9: And a hand's-span width. And when [replicates gesture], that's like what?

C10: Like a lozenge.

T10: And like a lozenge. And what kind of lozenge could that lozenge be?

C11: Dark, purple with black and it's oozing negative emotions. I feel if I could get rid of the lozenge I'd be ok.

T11: And if you could get rid of the lozenge you'd be ok. And when lozenge is dark, and purple with black and it's oozing negative emotions, is there anything else about that dark, purple, black, oozing lozenge?

C12: It's like a black or purple sponge, with liquid seeping out, acid burning me up.

T12: And a black or purple sponge, with liquid seeping out, and acid burning you up. And when liquid seeping out, where does that liquid come from?

C13: A permanent store, a secret store replenishing itself and it never runs out. When nothing seeps out I feel ok. I'm glad you two are not psychiatrists or you'd be writing out the Section Order right now!

T13: [Laughs.] And when nothing seeps out and you feel ok, what happens to lozenge?

C14: It's always in there, even when I was a baby. It started off like that [holds up thumb and forefinger of right hand, fingers not quite touching]. Now it's taking up more and more space.

These clean questions have invited the client to establish the form of his metaphors and their location within his perceptual space. In doing so he develops an embodied sense of this anxious-making, negative-emotion oozing, acid-burning lozenge; probably with greater awareness than ever before. Not only has lozenge "always been there", the problem is getting worse: "it's taking up more and more space".

In C15-C28 (not shown) the client goes on to identify the convoluted logic of the temporal, spatial and cause-effect relationships of his Metaphor Landscape -- the context within which change will take place. He discovers that his Landscape includes a "dark distant past", that "a huge, massive boulder of unhappiness" is shackled to the ankles of his father as a baby, and that the lozenge "is going to kill me".

We continue the transcript where the client reveals that before lozenge was in his grandfather, it had:

C29: Been floating around in time for thousands of years.

T29: And it's been floating around in time for thousands of years. And it's been floating around for thousands of years like what?

C30: Like a parasite looking for a host.

T30: And like a parasite looking for a host. And when a parasite's looking for a host, what kind of parasite is that parasite that's been floating around for thousands of years?

C31: Lonely, looking for a home and love and warmth and comfort, saying "I'm really friendly" but when it goes into someone it seeps out the acid. It has to get rid of it and it doesn't mean to hurt.

T31: And it doesn't mean to hurt. And it's lonely, looking for a home and love and warmth and comfort. And it's friendly but it has to get rid of the acid. And where could that acid have come from?

C32: The beginning of time.

T32: And the beginning of time. And when the beginning of time, what kind of time is the beginning of time?

C33: A huge black sphere. Huge black spherical sponge that one day exploded and it created billions of lonely lozenges. It became the lozenge.

T33: And a huge black spherical sponge exploded and created billions of lonely lozenges. And what happened just before that huge black spherical sponge exploded?

C34: Behind it was a sun shining from behind and it got so hot it exploded and that let all the light through and suddenly there was light.

T34: And when all the light is let through and suddenly there's light, what kind of light is that light?

C35: The sun is bringing light and love and warmth and happiness and calmness and I want to just sit and bask in the warmth of the sun, so the more sun I get the smaller the lozenge gets. [Eyes closed, face upturned, smiling.]

The client discovers that the lozenge first came into being when a "huge black spherical sponge exploded" (C33). Now that his attention is on "that one day," he is in a position to become aware of what happened just before the explosion: a sun (son?) was shining light (C34). At this point, time seems to collapse as the client experiences the sun "bringing light and love and warmth and happiness and calmness" (C35) in the here and now. As he does a change occurs spontaneously: the lozenge gets smaller. Whereas before he "can't handle happiness," now he is basking in it.

We continue by inviting the client to notice what happens when the effects of the change are developed, evolved and spread to other parts of his Metaphor Landscape:

T35: And the more sun you get the smaller the lozenge gets. So take all the time you need to just sit, and bask in the warmth of that sun, that's bringing light, and love, and warmth, and happiness, and calmness. [Long pause until a noticeable movement of the client's body.] And as you bask in the warmth of that sun, would that sun that brings light, and love, and happiness, and calmness be interested in going to shackles on a baby's ankles?

C36: Certainly.

T36: And can that sun go to those shackles?

C37: Certainly

T37: And as that sun goes to those shackles then what happens?

C38: They melt and disappear.

T38: And as they melt and disappear, then what happens?

C39: The baby can crawl and stand and play.

T39: And the baby can crawl and stand and play. And as baby can crawl and stand and play, then what happens?

C40: All the lozenges disappear.

T40: And all the lozenges disappear. And when all the lozenges disappear, they disappear to where?

C41: The sun. They are absorbed by the sun, gently, without pain, into the light.

T41: And when lozenges are absorbed by the sun, gently, without pain, into the light, are lozenges lonely?

C42: No.

As the client's Metaphor Landscape changes, a new Landscape with a different organization begins to emerge. This Landscape has a sun, light, an unshackled baby that "can crawl and stand and play," and lozenges that "are absorbed by the sun." The transcript continues (T42-C46, not shown) with the client discovering more about the effects of changes on other symbols in the Metaphor Landscape. We continue by asking what has happened to the original symptoms now that lozenge has transformed and he is basking in happiness and sunlight:

T46: And when just happiness and sunlight, and just happiness, what happens to sad feeling in your stomach?

C47: My lozenge has gone! All I can say is "just happiness".

T47: And your lozenge has gone. And does just happiness have a size or a shape?

C48: A big warm glow, happiness, peace and calm.

T48: And when there is a big warm glow, happiness, peace and calm, what happens to insecurity about the relationship and overwhelming her?

C49: It just goes. Like sunshine on both of them.

T49: And then what happens?

C50: They go forward together, relaxed, confident, no anxiety, no worries, enjoying being, peace, tranquillity, comfort.

T50: And as they go forward together, relaxed and confident with no anxiety and no worries, what needs to happen for you to handle all the enjoying being, and peace and tranquillity and comfort and happiness?

C51: I need to get out into the sun.

Instead of a lozenge that is "dark, purple with black and it's oozing negative emotions" (C11), the client has "A big warm glow, happiness, peace and calm" (C48). Rather than feeling insecure about the relationship with the woman he loves, they can "go forward together" (C50). He realizes that in order to handle happiness he needs "to get out into the sun."

It is not clear whether his last statement is literal or metaphoric. In fact it is both, because the client goes on to describe (in C52-C58, not shown) how he has been "living in a dungeon where no light comes in" for the last 20 years and that he is going home to empty it and "let out all the lozenges." (He had accumulated so much stuff in his home that he could not open some of the doors.)

After a very long contemplative silence, he looks around the room and says:

C59: There's space here [touches stomach]. Things seem different.

T60: And now there's space and things seem different, can you give her room to love you back and enjoy the relationship?

C60: [Nods. Tears in eyes.]

T61: And is there anything else you need now there is space and things seem different?

C61: [Long pause.] No. I'm feeling very weird. It's amazing what I came out with.

Twelve months after this session the client called to say he had moved out of his previous home and was getting married — not, as it happens, to the woman referred to in the transcript, but to another woman with whom he had "fallen in love in a different way."

In conclusion

The primary purpose of Symbolic Modelling is to facilitate an individual to learn about themselves through exploring their metaphors. In the process of becoming aware of the way their system works, conditions emerge in which change is a natural consequence. However this change does not occur in a vacuum — it requires a context, a Metaphor Landscape. Once this exists, simply using Clean Language within the logic of the metaphors and faithfully following the process as it unfolds means the self-system learns from itself. This is just another way of saying: the system changes.

© 2001, Penny Tompkins & James Lawley

REFERENCES:

Grove, David J. and Basil Panzer. Resolving Traumatic Memories: Metaphors and Symbols in Psychotherapy, Irvington, New York, 1989.

Lawley, James and Penny Tompkins. Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling, The Developing Company Press, London, 2000.

Yero, Judith Lloyd. Watch Your Language!, Anchor Point, Vol. 15, No. 3, March 2001.

Thanks to Philip Harland for his valuable comments.


Complete Annotated Lozenge Transcript (from Metaphors in Mind pp. 273-281. Session took place November 1997. Comments in this colour. )

C1: I started a relationship recently but there’s insecurity about the relationship. It’s “too good to be true.” I find it difficult to enjoy the relationship as I get very anxious when I am not with her. I overwhelm her. I have to hold back. I’m waiting for her to say “I can’t take it any more.” I was last in a relationship three years ago which I managed to sustain for 2 weeks. When I fall in love I get the feeling of anxiety – I feel almost ill – so maybe I engineer the collapse of the relationship so I can manage the anxiety. It gets worse because I’m aware of the effect. I’ve had to pull back from the brink a couple of times.

How many layers are there to this binding pattern? Two at least. A secondary bind is apparent because his awareness that the primary bind – it is difficult for him to enjoy being with her and he gets anxious when he is not – causes more anxiety.

T1: And what would you like to have happen?

C2: I’ve got to give her room to love me back.

A desired outcome.

T2: And you’ve got to give her room to love you back. And when you’ve got to give her room to love you back, is there any-thing else?

C3: A feeling that I’ve got to love her as much as I can because she’s not going to be around for that long. It’s like I’ve got to eat all the sweets today even though there will be plenty more to-morrow. “It’s too good to be true.” I don’t believe it will be there tomorrow. I’m not meant to be happy, it’s not for me. Love brings me happiness but I can’t handle happiness and joy. It’s as if I have to live my life in the darkness.
Further description of the tangled web of cause-effect relationships reveals the pervasiveness of this binding pattern – it extends to ‘my life’.

T3: And when you’ve got to eat all the sweets today, and you’re not meant to be happy and you have to live your life in the darkness, is there anything else about that darkness?

So much complex information so soon that we simply select the last metaphor mentioned.

C4: I don’t ever remember having been happy. I don’t feel I’ve ever had permanent happiness – sustained happiness. I felt very alone as a child. I don’t feel I was ever happy. It’s just a feeling within me now.

T4: And you don’t feel you were ever happy.  And when it’s just a feeling within you now, what kind of feeling could that feeling be?

Developing the attributes of the feeling.

C5: A sad feeling.

T5: And a sad feeling. And when a sad feeling, where is that sad feeling?

Asks for the location.

C6: In my stomach.

T6: And in your stomach. And when sad feeling is in your stomach, whereabouts in your stomach?

C7: Here [touches stomach].

T7: And sad feeling is here. And when sad feeling is here, is there anything else about that sad feeling?

More developing of attributes.

C8: A feeling sick and nauseous. I can feel it now. I feel very anxious. I hate this feeling.

T8: And you hate this feeling of sick and nauseous and very anxious. And when you feel sick and nauseous and very anxious, does sick and nauseous and very anxious have a size or a shape?

Inviting feeling into form.

C9: A hand’s-span width [makes gesture with right hand].

T9: And a hand’s-span width. And when [replicates gesture], that’s like what?

Invitation to convert to metaphor.

C10: Like a lozenge.

T10: And like a lozenge. And what kind of lozenge could that lozenge be?

Developing the symbol.

C11: Dark, purple with black and it’s oozing negative emotions. I feel if I could get rid of the lozenge I’d be ok.

Further developing the symbol.

T11: And if you could get rid of the lozenge you’d be ok. And when lozenge is dark, and purple with black and it’s oozing negative emotions, is there anything else about that dark, purple, black, oozing lozenge?

C12: It’s like a black or purple sponge, with liquid seeping out, acid burning me up.

Classic Stage 2 questions have enabled the client to identify an anxious-making, negative-emotion oozing, acid-burning metaphor. Now we direct the client’s attention to the source of the symbol.

T12: And a black or purple sponge, with liquid seeping out, and acid burning you up. And when liquid seeping out, where does that liquid come from?

C13: A permanent store, a secret store replenishing itself and it never runs out. When nothing seeps out I feel ok. (I’m glad you two are not psychiatrists or you’d be writing out the Section Order right now!)

T13: [Laugh.] And when nothing seeps out and you feel ok, what happens to lozenge?

Invites client to attend to the relationship between ‘feel ok’ and ‘lozenge’.

C14: It’s always in there, even when I was a baby. It started off like that [holds up thumb and forefinger of right hand, fingers not quite touching]. Now it’s taking up more and more space.

Note all the references to time in C13 and C14: ‘permanent’, ‘never’ ‘always’, ‘started’ and ‘now’.

T14: And it started off like that [repeat gesture]. And it’s always in there, even when you were a baby. And where could [repeat gesture] have come from before it was in baby?

As he is reviewing the history of the metaphor, we continue to move time back by asking for a prior source of lozenge.

C15: It travelled down the umbilical cord into me.

T15: And when it travelled down the umbilical cord into you, where did it come from?

Tracing back the source of lozenge.

C16: It was given to my mother by my father.

T16: And it was given to your mother by your father. And what kind of father is that father?

Develops the new symbol.

C17: He resented her. [Blows a breath out.] He was angry with her and he didn’t let her know he was giving her the lozenge.

T17: And when he was angry with her and he didn’t let her know he was giving her the lozenge, where did his didn’t let her know he was giving her the lozenge come from?

Asks what motivated ‘father’ to keep ‘mother’ in the dark about the ‘lozenge’.

C18: A feeling of frustration that no matter what he does he can’t shake off the shackles of unhappiness. He has to sneak it into her during intercourse. I can’t handle this any more.

Is this meta-comment aimed at us?

T18: And you can’t handle this any more. And when he can’t shake off the shackles of unhappiness, where do those shackles come from?

Don’t know, but the metaphor is a repetition of ‘I can’t handle happiness’ (C3). We acknowledge the comment and keep to the process.

C19: Dark distant past which I don’t know about. He has been dragging them around on his hands and knees. They are attached to his ankles. Something is being pulled along behind him and it’s heavy.

We note that the client will probably need to find out about ‘dark distant past’ at some time, because he has said ‘I have to live my life in the darkness’ (C3) ...

T19: And shackles are attached to his ankles. And when shackles are attached to ankles and something heavy is being pulled along behind, how far is that something behind?

... and in the meantime we ask about what he is now attending to – the ‘something’ being pulled along behind.

C20: Ten feet. Like a huge, massive boulder of unhappiness.

T20: And a huge, massive boulder of unhappiness is being pulled along ten feet behind. And what happened just before those ankles were shackled?

Directs attention to the event which preceded the shackling.

C21: He was free to crawl around as a baby. They were put on by my grandfather, to stop him crawling away, but he forgot to take them off the baby.

T21: And he was free to crawl around. And shackles were put on by a grandfather who forgot to take them off baby. And where did his forgot to take them off baby come from?

(How come ‘grandfather’ forgot?)

C22: He died and no one else noticed.

T22: And he died and no one else noticed. And what kind of grandfather put shackles on a baby?

Developing the nature of the symbol ‘grandfather’.

C23: Mean and vindictive.

T23: And mean and vindictive. And when grandfather is mean and vindictive, and puts shackles on ankles of baby, where does his mean and vindictive come from?

C24: From me.

Given the information has been moving back in time inter-generationally, this answer is unexpected and confusing. But we stay true to the process by developing the attributes of ‘me’.

T24: And what kind of you is a you where grandfather’s mean and vindictive comes from?

C25: “You’re old enough.”

T25: And “you’re old enough.” And when “you’re old enough,” how old is old enough?

Specialist developing question.

C26: 18 and I can’t handle it.

The same metaphor as C3, C18.

T26: And 18 and you can’t handle it. And when you can’t handle it, then what happens?

A moving time forward question invites him to identify the effect of not being able to handle ‘it’.

C27: Thank God I got rid of it [pause], but there seems to be another one floating around.

T27: And when there seems to be another one floating around, where is that other one?

Developing the new symbol.

C28: [Laughs.] There is only the one – and that’s in me. There’s a mirror image of the lozenge. I’m seeing it in my hand and it’s big and I’m being shown the future and it’s going to kill me – I’m being shown it as a warning. So I passed it back to my grandfather.

The client explains the apparent paradox of receiving lozenge through his genealogy and giving it to his grandfather.

T28: And you passed the one and only lozenge back to your grandfather. And where did it come from before grandfather ever had it?

But how did grandfather get the lozenge in the first place? A modified clean question invites the client to find out.

C29: (Long pause.) Been floating around in time for thousands of years.

The motif of a very long time returns (C13, C14).

T29: And it’s been floating around in time for thousands of years. And it’s been floating around for thousands of years like what?

Invites the ‘floating’ relationship between ‘lozenge’ and ‘time’ into form.

C30: Like a parasite looking for a host.

T30: And like a parasite looking for a host. And when a parasite’s looking for a host, what kind of parasite is that parasite that’s been floating around for thousands of years?

Developing attributes.

C31: Lonely, looking for a home and love and warmth and comfort, saying “I’m really friendly” but when it goes into someone it seeps out the acid. It has to get rid of it and it doesn’t mean to hurt.

‘Lonely’ last appeared in C4 and ‘acid’ in C12. The client is spontaneously modelling the metaphor’s inherent logic.

T31: And it doesn’t mean to hurt. And it’s lonely, looking for a home and love and warmth and comfort. And it’s friendly but it has to get rid of the acid. And where could that acid have come from?

C32: The beginning of time.

Indicates we are approaching the original source.

T32: And the beginning of time. And when the beginning of time, what kind of time is the beginning of time?

C33: A huge black sphere. Huge black spherical sponge that one day exploded and it created billions of lonely lozenges. It became the lozenge.

The defining moment when lozenge came into being.

T33: And a huge black spherical sponge exploded and created billions of lonely lozenges. And what happened just before that huge black spherical sponge exploded?

C34: Behind it was a sun shining from behind and it got so hot it exploded and that let all the light through and suddenly there was light.

(Shining son?) After 12 moving time back questions (since T23) the client is attending to a time before the entire pattern began – when there was ‘light’.

T34: And when all the light is let through and suddenly there’s light, what kind of light is that light?

Developing the new resource symbol.

C35: The sun is bringing light and love and warmth and happiness and calmness and I want to just sit and bask in the warmth of the sun, so the more sun I get the smaller the lozenge gets. [Eyes closed, face upturned, smiling.]

Presumably ‘I’ has introduced itself to the ‘sun’ and is basking. In this context at least, he seems able to ‘handle’ happiness and love.

T35: And the more sun you get the smaller the lozenge gets. So take all the time you need to just sit, and bask in the warmth of that sun, that’s bringing light, and love, and warmth, and happiness, and calmness.

[Long pause until a noticeable movement of the client’s body.]

And as you bask in the warmth of that sun, would that sun that brings light, and love, and happiness, and calmness be interested in going to shackles on a baby’s ankles?
As changes are occurring spontaneously, we utilise the clear cause and effect relationship (the more sun ‘I’ gets the smaller the lozenge gets), and honour the ‘long time’ motif by saying “so take all the time you need ...” and then just wait. Then we test the interest of the ‘sun’ to continue spreading the changes.

C36: Certainly.

T36: And can that sun go to those shackles?

C37: Certainly

T37: And as that sun goes to those shackles then what happens?

Introducing the two symbols ...

C38: They melt and disappear.

... results in more changes.

T38: And as they melt and disappear, then what happens?

Maturing the latest changes.

C39: The baby can crawl and stand and play.

T39: And the baby can crawl and stand and play. And as baby can crawl and stand and play, then what happens?

Further evolving the change.

C40: All the lozenges disappear.

T40: And all the lozenges disappear. And when all the lozenges disappear, they disappear to where?

Discovering the whereabouts of the lozenges helps bring the new landscape into form.

C41: The sun. They are absorbed by the sun, gently, without pain, into the light.

T41: And when lozenges are absorbed by the sun, gently, without pain, into the light, are lozenges lonely?

Checking if the changes have affected the attribute ‘lonely’ (C4, C31).

C42: No.

T42: And when lozenges are absorbed by the sun, then what happens?

More evolving.

C43: A baby grows up to be a happy person and he can take his time.

T43: And baby grows up to be a happy person and he can take his time. And then what happens when father has intercourse with mother?

Checking if the changes have spread to ‘father’ and ‘mother’ (C18).

C44: There is just happiness.

T44: And there is just happiness. And when there is just happiness, what travels down the umbilical cord into you?

This non-standard clean question spreads the effects of ‘just happiness’.

C45: Sunlight.

T45: And sunlight. And then what happens?

More evolving.

C46: Just happiness.

T46: And when just happiness and sunlight, and just happiness, what happens to sad feeling in your stomach?

Checking if changes have spread to stomach (C5–C8)

C47: My lozenge has gone! All I can say is ‘just happiness’.

T47: And your lozenge has gone. And does just happiness have a size or a shape?

Developing the form of the symbol called ‘just happiness’.

C48: A big warm glow, happiness, peace and calm.

T48: And when there is a big warm glow, happiness, peace and calm, what happens to insecurity about the relationship and overwhelming her?

Checking if the changes have influenced the original conditions (C1).

C49: It just goes. Like sunshine on both of them.

T49: And then what happens?

C50: They go forward together, relaxed, confident, no anxiety, no worries, enjoying being, peace, tranquillity, comfort.

T50: And as they go forward together, relaxed and confident with no anxiety and no worries, what needs to happen for you to handle all the enjoying being and peace and tranquillity and comfort and happiness?

The ‘as’ continues to evolve the changes and the question checks that the client knows the conditions necessary for him to continue to ‘handle’ the changes (C3, C18, C26).

C51: I need to get out into the sun.

T51: And where are you when you need to get out into the sun?

Developing the new landscape by locating the perceiver.

C52: Living in a dungeon where no light comes in.

Developing the new context.

T52: And when living in a dungeon, what kind of dungeon is that dungeon where no light comes in?

C53: It’s my basement flat where I’ve been since 1979.

T53: And when your basement flat is a dungeon where you’ve been since 1979, what’s the first thing that needs to happen for you to get out into the sun?

Evolving by identifying conditions necessary for him to continue to ‘handle happiness’.

C54: I need to empty it.

T54: And you need to empty it. And what is the first thing you will empty in your flat?

C55: The lozenges! [Long pause.] I’m going home and opening the front door and saying “Ok buddy, time to go.”

T55: And you’re saying “time to go.” And do lozenges want to go?

Checking if the intention of lozenges matches the intention of ‘I’.

C56: Yes [long pause]. They want to get out.

T56: And lozenges want to get out. And can lozenges get out?

Checks if lozenges are able to enact their intention.

C57: I’ll see them float out the door. I’ll go around the flat and check they’ve all gone.

T57: And you’ll see them float out the door. And when they’ve all gone, where have they gone to?

Identifying the location of lozenges in the new landscape.

C58: To the sun.

The lozenges go home (C34).

T58: And when lozenges have gone to the sun, then what happens?

Even more evolving.

C59: [Very long pause, then looks up and around room.] There’s space here [touches stomach]. Things seem different.

This contrasts with when lozenge was ‘taking up more and more space’ (C14) in the place indicated by the same nonverbal (C7).

T60: And now there’s space and things seem different, can you give her room to love you back and enjoy the relationship?

Checks if changes have spread to the client’s original outcome (C2).

C60: [Nods. Tears in eyes.]

T61: And is there anything else you need now that there is space and things seem different?

Twelve months after this session the client called to say he was getting married – not to the woman referred to in the transcript, but to another woman with whom he had “fallen in love in a different way.”

C61: [Long pause.] No. I’m feeling very weird. It’s amazing what I came out with.




URL: http://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/articles/articles/13/1/Metaphors-In-Mind-A-Case-Study/Page1.html


Penny and James are supervising neurolinguistic psychotherapists – registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy since 1993 – coaches in business, certified NLP trainers, and founders of The Developing Company.

They have provided consultancy to organisations as diverse as GlaxoSmithKline, Yale University Child Study Center, NASA Goddard Space Center and the Findhorn Spiritual Community in Northern Scotland.


Their book,
Metaphors in Mind
was the first comprehensive guide to Symbolic Modelling using the Clean Language of David Grove. An annotated training DVD, A Strange and Strong Sensation demonstrates their work in a live session. They have published over 200 articles and blogs freely available on their website: cleanlanguage.co.uk
 

All information on this web site (unless otherwise stated) is Copyright © 1997- Penny Tompkins and James Lawley of The Developing Company. All rights reserved. You may reproduce and disseminate any of our copyrighted information for personal use only providing the original source is clearly identified. If you wish to use the material for any other reason please contact:

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