The Jewel of Choice - The Client's View
In the following, the client in the two 'Jewel of Choice'
transcripts gives her impressions of what happened during the Symbolic
Modelling process facilitated by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley, and
what has happened in the six months since.
The first session facilitated
the client - using her metaphors and symbols - to self-model her
desired outcome and the effects of achieving that outcome.
The second session facilitated
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
Reading through the transcript of my journey within this foreign yet
strangely familiar metaphorical landscape, I am struck by how much has
changed since my two sessions with Penny and James.
The wonderful thing is that these changes seem to
have happened in spite of myself and did not appear to be due to any
conscious effort on my part. That may sound at first as if I am
abdicating all choice to my unconscious, but I see it more as a working
When Penny and James asked the
group if anyone would like to volunteer for a live demonstration, I
casually looked about the room to see who it would be. What happened
was not expected, I felt the flick of my pen as my hand jerked away
from my body. I hoped that nobody saw, but as if in some auctioneer's
hall, my bid was not to go unnoticed.
the faintest idea what 'issue' was to be aired, but had to trust that
something in me had presented itself as ripe and ready to be resolved.
I was fortunate as it turned out, that I did already have a starting
point, with the drawing I had made on a silent retreat I had been on a
couple of weeks before. This Ideal Being was certainly making her
presence felt and with her help, I was about to be introduced to my
Symbolic World. (See drawing A.)
A. Ideal Being -
from a meditation, showing qualities of Truth (sword), Receptivity
(open hand), Mothering and Open Heartedness (baby at breast), Beauty
(sitting on Lotus), Gentleness (deer), Clear-sightedness (hawk),
Detachment / Cutting away the extraneous (knife)
started with a choice, as in where would I like to sit and where would
I like to place Penny and James. This, together with what I felt was
the very supportive energy of the group, gave me a feeling of safety
and the necessary level of control over the direction the session might
take. As it happened my conscious self very quickly gave the driving
wheel over to my unconscious, which seemed to be much more familiar
with the terrain.
Every question asked seemed to
be like headlights on my vehicle, that illuminated different aspects
around me in such a way that there was no concern that my 'imagination'
would not be up to the journey. What was surprising to me was how
quickly I became fully immersed in what was being revealed. What I mean
by that is how all of me was present, so that instead of simply
observing, I was having real emotional and physical responses as we
It was also very clear how events in
my life had been translated into their symbolic counterparts and now
had a life of their own in this world. This was particularly apparent
to me in what has been highlighted as C28 in the transcript. The
'scared' of losing it (the jewel given to me by my mother) was a very
real fear as it took me back to when, soon after my mother's death,
burglars got into my bedroom and stole every piece of jewellery my
mother had ever given me.
The session however
gave me back a priceless gift. I really felt that in some way my mother
was returned to me and that the attributes assigned to her as my Ideal
Being, were somehow now being mirrored in me. (See drawing B.)
B. Sketch of jewel in treasure chest, and me in yellow, protected by my mother figure in red. The moon shining on us for peace and safety. The Oak tree at the border of the two worlds, the sun shining to show the 'outside' world (more exposed).
I can see now how ready I was to complete a whole
picture from the many fragments I had worked on in therapy for a number
Thankfully this previous work had
allowed me a certain sense of familiarity with some of the figures in
my landscape. I found this particularly useful when I met again the
Yoda-like character who represented my gut instincts, as the great
level of trust needed to follow him into the cave had to have been
built up over time. I recognised him from a therapy session I had years
ago, where he was a spindly, wizened up little creature with yellow
teeth and bad breath.
I had wandered into a
cave full of skeletons and found that I couldn't get out the way I had
come in. I was aware then of something in my peripheral vision skipping
C. The scene as it was,
where I was stuck in the mud of the past, even though I was aware that
the present and the future are glorious. The nine year old me had to be
released from a state where she had simply given up.
When my therapist asked if I could face it, I turned
and saw this grotesque imp hissing at me. When I finally found a
passage out of the cave the imp tried to impair my route, until I
yanked his foot and found freedom.
It was in a
session that followed a few weeks later that I found out who this
character was. In a Gestalt exercise, I enacted being in dialogue with
this creature and we found ourselves sitting with our backs to each
My imp was fuming and told me how angry he was that I had
thrown him into the cave, leaving him to starve and wither from the
lack of light in this dark, dark place. This was his reward for saving
my life. I realised that it was my gut instinct that had blown in my
ear when I was a nine year old child paralysed with fear whilst a
stranger on a ship molested me. Suddenly alerted, I found myself
running for my life, pushing through all the grown-ups in the kitchen
to safety. The window of opportunity to tell my parents was too small
and the moment was quickly lost. I was trapped on this ship for another
two weeks with this faceless abuser, but told no one of it until 21
years later. My way of dealing with the whole experience was to throw
it away into the cave that was the back of my mind; unfortunately I
also threw away my impish, trusting and childlike behaviour. (See
I was asked if I wanted to
carry on the next day and again something in me was very excited about
the prospect. What happened in the 50 minutes that followed was
Through the use of Symbolic
Modelling, my session with Penny and James re-established my
relationship with my imp, which had grown older and wiser as he
appeared now as Yoda. I also saw that I held the choice of releasing
the now far less powerful figure of the abuser with the 'feeling sorry
D. Feet showing two states:
Right foot with anchor and green grass to 'stay put' / Left foot
wanting to explore, full of curiousity - both aspects needed for
Once the Trust/Sorry exchange had taken place (C89) I was amazed at the
immediacy of the change in me, heralded by the sweet smell of
I had my protective pink bubble again together with my gut instinct which would allow me to choose who or what I can trust.
shift in me since the two sessions has been great. Now, if I do think
back to the ship incidence, instead of feeling angry and unclean, I
have no emotional attachment to the event at all. With my protection
and trust back I feel more mature and more like an adult (well I am
only 40 after all), able to stand up for myself and have my own say. I
walk with my head up now, where before I always cast my eyes to the
pavement, to use invisibility as my protection from the harsh world
However the BIGGEST change of all is that exactly a month after the sessions I became pregnant!
so many issues resolved within my 2nd Chakra (stomach/gut area) and the
psychological plea to 'mother myself' voiced, it seems that the way was
clear for me to receive the gift of motherhood.
found Symbolic Modelling of immense help to me, freeing up energy that
had previously been locked up in double-binds, disowned sadness and
loss. That energy is available to me now according to the inherent
logic of the metaphorical system. Through this, I feel that I have a
better understanding of my world and the choices available to me - I am
so glad that I 'volunteered'.