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6. Using Clean Space with other processes

6.1 Clean Language
6.2 Powers of Six
6.3 Other process


Outside the currently occupied space
Within the currently occupied space
Incorporating Clean Language questions into Clean Space instructions

Clean Language outside the currently occupied space

Clients indicate a higher-level knowing when they name a group of spaces, a relationship between spaces, or a metaphor for a configuration of spaces (e.g. line, shape, angle, edge, boundary, etc.).

In Section 2.3 we described how client content about the configuration of the network could be incorporated into Clean Space questions. In Section 4 we showed how the words clients use to describe the relationship between spaces could be used in a Clean Space instruction. Below we offer you a third option – to use a few Clean Language questions to develop the form and attributes of the emergent metaphors clients use to describe parts of their network of spaces.  Use the client's exact word(s) for the grouping of spaces. For example:

... a bee hive (to be added)

The key is to ask only a few Clean Language questions before returning to the Clean Space format. In this way you will preserve the spatiality of Clean Space without the client getting too deeply involved in their Metaphor Landscape.

Clean Language within the currently occupied space

If you are experienced at using both Clean Space and Clean Language you can briefly develop the form of a client's metaphors – and especially resource metaphors – within a space.  Do remember not dwell too long within a space – keep the process moving by inviting the client to find new spaces or to revisit existing spaces.

Incorporating Clean Language questions into Clean Space instructions

An experienced facilitator can, when an appropriate context appears incorporate some of the standard Clean Language questions into a standard Clean Space instruction.
Find a space that knows ...
... what you would like to have happen (now).
... what needs to happen for [client’s desired outcome].
... then what happens/what happens next.
... what happens just before [X]
... where [X] comes from.
... the relationship between [X] and [Y]? (or What's between X and Y?)

For more on using Clean Language within Clean Space – and vice versa – see the article that accompanied the 4 October 2008 Developing Group where we explored how to ‘Join Up’ Clean Language and Clean Space.


The same article explains how to 'Join Up' Clean Space and Powers of Six.

For an in-depth description of Emergent Knowledge processes incorporating the Powers of Six and Clean Space see Philip Harland’s forthcoming book The Power of Six, and Philip’s and Matthew Hudson’s web site



There are many NLP techniques that are based on spatially sorting states and perceptions. Many of these were devised by Roberts Dilts. While there are similarities between these processes and Clean Space, there are also differences:

NLP processes are more top down because the spaces are pre-defined categories, e.g. SCORE (Symptom, Cause, Outcome, Resource, Effect), Perceptual Positions (First, Second, Third), etc.

Clean Space is restricted to a small ‘clean’ question/instruction set.

NLP processes follow a pre-determined procedure. In this respect Clean Space Lite is closer to an NLP technique. However, the full Clean Space uses a set of routines that are applied in relation to how the client responds in the moment.

The idea, instructions and questions of Clean Space can easily be incorporated into many NLP techniques.

And some NLP processes can be incorporated into Clean Space. For example,

we worked with a person who had to make an urgent and important decision regarding his family. After the initial setup and him finding a number of spaces where he knew something about the situation, we used the NLP concept of 'second position' (see Perspectives to Model By) in the framing of our instruction and questions:

Find a space that represents what [a family member's name] knows about all this.
Followed by:
And what does [family member's name] know from here?
And is there anything else [...] knows about [one of the other space]?

We repeated this for each family member.

After revisiting some of the spaces we instructed him to:

Find a space outside all of this. [See 4.2 'Outside the Network']

And finally:

Find a space that knows what you need to do.

From where he said he could "stand up and honestly speak my truth".


There are also ways Clean Space that can be incorporated into many other processes – and vice versa. The group work of Arny Mindell (Worldwork) and Bert Hellinger (Constellations) immdiately spring to mind.

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