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First published in NLP News, magazine of the International NLP Trainers Association (INLPTA), Number 9, September 2004
The Jewel of Choice
An annotated transcript of two sessions using Symbolic Modelling
and the client's views of the changes that occurred.

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley

In the first session Penny and James co-facilitate the client - using her metaphors and symbols - to self-model her desired outcome and the effects of achieving that outcome.

In the second session they co-facilitate the client to self-model the way her Metaphor Landscape - the embodied system of metaphors and symbols - was organised and the process by which it could evolve.

In part 3, the client gives her impressions of what happened during the Symbolic Modelling process, and what happened in the following six months.


Session 1

The following is a transcript of a 30 minute session with a participant on a Symbolic Modelling training in 2001. We wanted to demonstrate how to use Clean Language and autogenic (client-generated) metaphor to facilitate a client to self-model their desired outcome. Our purpose was threefold:

  • First and foremost, for the client to have an extended opportunity to explore what they say they want, and to modify their desired outcome (if necessary) in the light of their self-modelling.
  • Secondly, once some clients have a clear sense of their desired outcome they don't need anything else, they are ready to start implementing it. Even if originally they experienced their situation as a problem, self-modelling their desired outcome can simply supersede the problem.
  • Thirdly, if that's not the case, then facilitating the client to have an embodied sense of their desired outcome almost inevitably encourages the emergence of aspects of the system which are not ready for the outcome to happen (as happened in this case at C27 below). This makes it clear to the client (and hopefully the facilitator) what they need to attend to for the system to start to change.

To facilitate the client to self-model their desired outcome required our questions, as long as was appropriate, to maintain an orientation towards their stated outcome -- even when present or past circumstances emerged (see T3, T7, T28, T30 and T32). In other words, to repeatedly invite the client to attend to their developing desired outcome. We have annotated the transcript to give you an idea of the thinking and intention behind our questions.

(NOTE: All therapist-generated words are embolden to distinguish them from the client's words and to make it easier to see the syntax of each question.)

T0

Where would you like to be?

[Clients sits on the floor]

And where would you like us to be?

Penny there [points to the floor in front and to her left] and James there [points to the floor in front and to her right].

And what would you like to have happe

Standard opening questions, inviting client to establish the spatial configuration between themself and the therapists, and then to attend to their desired outcome.

C1

I did a meditation retreat. I got in touch with an ideal being. I'd like to work with her. I'd like to bring her into the world. It's hard to bring her out. But she wants out and I want her out.

T1

And you want your ideal being out.

Slightly unclean as client had said "an ideal being".

C2

Oh, I might as well put her out. [Gets drawing and puts it in front of her.]

T2

And what kind of ideal being is that ideal being?

Inviting client to develop the form of (or 'describe the qualities of' or 'specify the nature of' or 'identify the class of' or 'embody' etc.) the symbol named "ideal being".

C3

She's a very strong presence. I'm a little bit scared of her. I can feel my heart skip a beat at the thought of her coming out into the world.

T3

And she's a very strong presence and you're a little bit scared of her and your heart skips a beat is there anything else about that ideal being?

We acknowledge the client's feelings before inviting her to continue to attend to the symbol involved in the outcome.

C4

She has a lot of attributes. With her strength she's very gentle. She's nurturing. She has qualities related to strength.

T4

And with her strength she is very gentle, and she's nurturing, and when she wants to come out into the world, what kind of world is that world?

Invites client to develop the form of the context of the desired outcome named "the world" (see C1).

C5

A challenging world.

T5

And a challenging world. And is there anything else about that challenging world?

C6

A world where you have to be prepared for anything to happen. I have to be on my guard as well.

T6

And a world where you have to be prepared for anything and you have to be on your guard as well. And is there anything else about that world?

Continues to invite "the world" to be more fully formed. If "ideal being" is going to come out into the world, she might as well know what kind of world it is.

C7

It could be so much better.

T7

And that world could be so much better. And when she wants to come out into that world where will she come out into that world to?

The world "could be so much better" but there is no eveidence that it needs to be for the client's outcome to be achieved, so we direct her attention to the location where her outcome will be achieved.

C8

Right here [gestures with both hands in front].

T8

And when she comes out, right here, then what happens?

Invites attention to move to a time after the event "comes out" and thereby consider the effect of achieving her outcome.

C9

She'll teach me at first. She'll protect me and I'll learn from her.

T9

And when she teaches you, and she protects you, and you learn from her, what happens to a world?

The relationship (teach, protect, learn) between "ideal being" and "me/I" has been defined, and what will be the effect on "a world"?

C10

It becomes safer.

T10

And as a world becomes safer, and she protects and you learn from her, what happens to you?

Returning to the effects on the client.

C11

I become stronger.

4th repetition of the "strength/strong" metaphor (see C3 & C4) and first time it is associated with "I" rather than "she".

T11

And as you become stronger, what kind of stronger is that stronger?

We can take a hint!

C12

Stronger. More present.


T12

And as you become stronger and more present, you become stronger and more present like what?

Inviting client to identify a metaphor or symbol that embodies these qualities.

C13

I got a picture of a really strong oak tree.


T13

And is there anything else about that really strong oak tree?

Simply keeping attention on this (presumed) resource symbol.

C14

I just immediately thought how many similar qualities there are as the big strong oak tree as with her -- there's a whole naturalness.


T14

And when there's a whole naturalness to a big strong oak tree, what happens next?

Invites time to move forward again to discover the effect of the effects.

C15

I got a picture of me, me climbing out of the oak tree, but I can climb back in, and go out from it.

Repetition of the "out" metaphor (see C1 & C2) only this time it relates to "I" rather then "ideal being".

T15

And is there anything else about going out from it when you can climb back in?

Invites client to attend to "going out" at a time when she can "climb back in" (which might be very different to an "out" with no return to "in").

C16

It's the best of both worlds. I can go into the branches and not be seen, or come out and play, but I have always got somewhere to go back to.

Ah, so there are two worlds.

T16

And when it's the best of both worlds, and you can go into the branches and not be seen, or come out and play, but you've always got somewhere to go back to, what happens next?

Invites time to move forward again.

C17

I can be more like her and I don't seem so separate.


T17

And when you can be more like her and don't seem so separate, then what happens?


C18

I feel much more peaceful.


T18

And when you feel much more peaceful, where do you feel much more peaceful?

Inviting client to attend to the location of the feeling.

C19

In here [right hand to forehead].


T19

And in here. And when in here, whereabouts in here?


C20

Inside, just where the moon is in the drawing [touches drawing with right hand]. It takes up the same space as where the moon is. It's a very peaceful moon.


T20

And when you feel much more peaceful in here [replicates gesture] is there anything else about that moon that's very peaceful?

Maintaining attention on the "moon" symbol at that location when she's feeling "more peaceful".

C21

No one knows it's there so it can be undisturbed.


T21

So you can feel much more peaceful in here when you are closer to your ideal being because the strength of the oak tree is like the strength of the ideal being and you have the best of both worlds when she comes out, right here.

Accummulating descriptions so that the client further embodies her symbolic perception.
Note: This is not completely clean as (i) the therapist had forgotten the client's exact words "I don't seem so separate" (C17) and used "closer" instead; and (ii) the cause-effect relationship implied by "because" is an assumption by the therapist.

C22

Yeah.


T22

And when there is a very peaceful moon no one knows is there, then what happens?


C23

There's something about the choice that gives me. I can choose how to be and don't have to be told how to be.

So the peacful gives her "the choice" to "choose how to be". However, the "something about" implies there may be information about "the choice" which is not yet available to her.

T23

And you can choose how to be and don't have to be told how to be. And when you can choose, what kind of choice is that choice?

We simply invite her to attend to the attributes of "choice".
Note: It would probably have been more elegant to have asked about the verb "choose" rather than the noun "choice".

C24

No restrictions. It's clean.


T24

And it's a no restrictions and clean choice. And where could that choice come from?

Inviting her attntion to shift to the source of "choice".

C25

My stomach's giving me a clue. I do get a lot of gut instincts. It's a choice -- not sure where it comes from. It's just there.

The "not sure" confirms she is close to the limits of her current awareness.

T25

And it's just there. And when you feel more peaceful in here [replicates gesture], and you can choose how to be, and that's a no restrictions, clean choice, and that choice is just there, where is that choice when it's just there?

Taking lots of time to concentrate attention on that "choose/choice" before asking for its location.

C26

I have an image of a really old treasure chest with a jewel. I can shut or open it. The choice is the jewel.


T26

And a really old treasure chest with a jewel. And you can shut or open it. And what kind of jewel is that jewel?

By asking about "jewel" we are still concentrating on "choice".

C27

It's a gift. It's really pretty. It's a gift -- from my mother.

A new symbol "mother" appears.

T27

And it's a really pretty gift from your mother. And is there anything else about that jewel?

But before we attend to "mother", maybe there's something else about that "choice/jewel".

C28

I'm scared of losing it if I open it and someone takes it and then I won't have it anymore [tears].

"Scared" makes a reappearance (C3). It seems there are two choices: first to open the chest and second to choose how to be (symbolised by the jewel). But she's in a bind: if she takes the first choice she may lose the second choice!

T28

And you're scared that if you open that old treasure chest and someone takes that jewel that's a gift from your mother, you won't have it anymore. And when you're scared you wont have a gift from your mother anymore, what kind of a mother gives a gift like that?

We take plenty of time to acknowledge "scared" and the binding pattern, but we are facilitating her to self-model her outcome, so rather than attend to the bind at this stage, we return to the giver of the jewel, "mother".

C29

[Points to drawing] My ideal being. Um-m-m-m. [Pause] That's funny. It's beautiful. It's really nice to feel this way.

Several indications that something just happened.

T29

And it's really nice to feel this way, and is there anything else about mother?

So we simply stay with the current perception.

C30

What's so lovely is to know she's not gone. She's more than a jewel in a treasure chest. She needs to come out so we can have each other. Not just someone to miss.

It seems mother "needs to come out" as well as "ideal being" (C1) and "I" in the "big strong oak tree" (C16).

T30

You know she's not gone. And she's more than a jewel in a treasure chest. And she needs to come out so you can have each other. And is there anything else when she needs to come out?

It's far from clear what's happening so we maintain her attention on the outcome "she needs to come out".

C31

I can almost hear her say, "I am so glad." She's been waiting patiently.


T31

And when she's been waiting patiently what kind of patiently?

Developing the potential resource by asking for attributes.

C32

A lot of sadness with it because she hurts when I hurt. That sort of patience. [Pause] But she can't do it for me. I have to find the treasure for myself. It wouldn't be a gift if she found it.


T32

And mother has been waiting patiently for you to find the treasure for yourself. And she can't choose for you. And she needs to come out. And then what happens when she needs to come out?

(Note: Technically, "she can't choose for you" is an assumption by the therapist, the client actually said "she can't do it for me.")

C33

The world's a better place. [Pause] When I look at that drawing it has all the qualities she had.


T33

So take some time to look at that drawing and to notice it has all the qualities she had, and to add whatever you've discovered to the drawing. And then take some time to consider what needs to happen for ideal being to come out when you're scared of loosing the jewel that's a gift from a mother who's been waiting patiently for you to find the treasure for yourself -- the choice to choose how to be -- when an ideal being wants to come out into the world.

It seems the client has gone a good way to self-modelling both her outcome -- " I'd like to bring (ideal being) into the world" -- and the effects of that outcome happening. Every indication is that she still wants this to happen and that the appearance of the symbolic mother has probably strengthened her desire. So we offer the client an assignment which invites her to continue specifying her desired outcome and to begin consideringwhat needs to happen given her current situation -- that she's scared of loosing the jewel -- for her to realise her ouctome.

Analysis of Questions

Once the initial arranging of seating was complete we made 34 interventions:

Basic Developing Questions

9 'Is there anything else?'
7 'What kind of?'
4 'Where?' or 'Whereabouts?'
1 'Like what?'

Basic Moving Time Questions

6 'Then what happens?' or 'What happens next?'
1 'Come from?'

Specialised Questions

1 'What would you like to have happen?'
2 'When ... what happens to ...?'

Other

2 Recapping statements
1 Recapping and assignment instruction

62% of our interventions were 'Basic Developing Questions' and a further 20% were 'Basic Moving Time Questions'. In all, 4 out of every 5 interventions were drawn from the 9 Basic Clean Language Questions. And if we factor in the two statements that simply recapped information, the proportion rises to almost 90%.

Below click 2 for the concluding session with this client, and 3 for a commentary by the client six months later.


Penny Tompkins & James Lawley
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
 
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Modelisation
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7-9 May 2018



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