a full Symbolic Modelling session in English and French
Penny Tompkins and James Lawley
is a 45 minute unedited video of a Symbolic Modelling demonstration. It took place on an Xtrema.fr training in Paris in October 2010.
The session starts slowly while the client maps his metaphor landscape in perceptual space. Each apparent resolution is met with a binding pattern until a spontaneous denouement occurs and the changes are matured.
Nine months after the session the client reviewed the video and emailed us:
Josick asked me if I am Ok for putting this demo on youtube, of course I am. Then I realized (with shame) that I forgot to thank you for this great adventure we passed together. Even if I know that I was here for learning clean and not working on myself I have to confess that this demo help me to end a huge work on me started many years before. We’ve got in France an expression : “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing” and I guess that sometimes it’s better to let the heart speak as he wants instead of looking for a reason. I hope this video helps anybody to see the power of 'clean' even if they won’t understand what I’m taking about !
An annotated transcript follows.
Annotated transcript of 'Science and Spirituality have a Beer' video
The transcript below demonstrates how to work with a binding pattern that manifests several times during a session. A bind is a generic term for a repetitive self-preservingpattern which
the client has not been able to change, and which they find
inappropriate or unhelpful.
Note, at no time do the facilitators
challenge, attempt to reframe, solve the bind, or change the client's
experience. Instead the client is facilitated to 'self-model' until his
system finds it own way to move beyond an internal conflict between
Science and Spirituality.
C = Client.
F = Facilitators (Penny Tompkins and James Lawley). Bold indicates facilitator-introduced words and highlights the syntax of Clean Language.
Phases 1-6 refer to the Symbolic Modelling Lite process:
Phase 1 - Set up Setting up a clean
process itself needs to be clean. In Phase 1 we offer the client an opportunity
to align his inner perceptual world with the outer physical world
where the session takes place.
would you like to be?
[Client sits down]
Where would you like us to be?
[Points to chairs]
Is this at the right angle?
Is this the right distance?
When the client is settled within his spatial configuration, we continue:
like to feel for ... basically with two parts with which I am in conflict
but which makes my behaviour go very binary, from one side to the
other. It's two
sides which are different in their perception of the future. Nearly
you want to feel for two parts which are in conflict and can make your
behaviour go binary, one side or the other, and they are different with
the perception of the future. Nearly opposite.
because my future is my future, whatever happens.
of the future.
And what is it that you want to feel for
these two parts?
like them to mix, not be one, not in conflict, not in opposition.
[NOTE: F4 requests
desired Outcome with an unconventional clean question prompted by the
client starting ... but not finishing his opening sentence.]
the PRO definitions, we note that most of the client's description is
not of a desired Outcome, it is about a Problem. The metaphors in the
client's description: perceptions of the future that are "nearly
opposite", two parts "in conflict" and behaviour that goes "from one
side to the other" are the first indications of a particular class of
problem called a binding pattern.
"Mix" is the beginning of a desired Outcome. We would usually go straight for developing this word into an embodied landscape
(Phase 3). However, the client has said he would like the "two parts/sides" to "not be one". This
presupposes they will mix
in the desired Outcome landscape yet remain separate
identities. Thus James decides to
develop the existing "parts/sides" which will "mix" in the desired Outcome can emerge. This means spending a short time developing
the metaphor of the client's current Problem state all the while intending to come back to the client's desired Outcome.
mix, and not be in opposition. And so these are two sides [pointing to
where client has located his two sides] that have nearly opposite perceptions
of the future. So where is the perception of the future of one side and
the other side? Where are the futures of those two sides?
there [touches the right side of his head]. And the other one outside
[points with outstretched left arm].
air, all over.
So one future is outside in the air [gestures to outside] and the other
is there [gestures to right side of the client's head]. So whereabouts there
[gestures to the right side of his head]?
on the right side.
Is that on the
inside or the outside?
And that's where the perception of the future is for this part.
locating questions have established the placement of the two
"perceptions" and an embryonic metaphor landscape. Now we can continue:
Phase 3: Developing a desired Outcome landscape
what you’d like is for there to be a mix. And what kind of
closeness and a dance between the two.
closeness and a dance. And is there anything else about that closeness
and dance between the two?
look at each other in the eyes.
look each other in the eyes. And what kind of look is that look when
they look each other in the eyes?
look of contact. Anything else about that look?
a contact that allows me to say that they exist one and the other. Not
for me, but between them.
they exist between them. And is there anything else about that
look, that contact, when it exists between them?
For the time being, it's a bit in anger. Looking for a fight.
After answering five developing questions which began to establish his desired Outcome landscape, the client's
switches to a current Problem "looking for a fight" when he has said he
doesn't want them in "opposition" (C4). He switches to the Problem during
the elaboration of his desired Outcome, which is a second indication
that a binding pattern may be operating. Whether it is or it isn't, we
stick with the process and return to using the PRO model (Phase 2):
[NOTE: When the client responds with a Problem or a Remedy (which will
also refer to a problem), the problematic aspects are acknowledged and
noted (we write them down) since they will play a key role in Phases 4 and 5.]
the moment it’s in anger. And what you would like is ... ?
contact happens without that anger.
when that contact happens without that anger, then what happens?
the client's attention returns fully to his desired Outcome (C15 is a
mixed Outcome and Remedy) we continue to facilitate him to develop a desired Outcome landscape (Phase 3).
What kind of exchanges?
would say a philosophical exchange. A sharing of experience. A sharing
of their own vision. They succeed in expressing for themselves.
A philosophical exchange. Is there anything else about that kind of exchange?
It's an exchange between Spirituality and Science.
It's an exchange between Spirituality and Science. And which is on which side?
Science [taps right side of head].
Science is there [points to right side of client's head], and Spirituality [points to outside]. And so when there’s that
philosophical exchange between the Science with its perception of the
future, and the Spiritual perception of the future, that’s a
looking, a contact that can look at each other, an exchange, and share
experience, and each with their own vision, then what happens?
And what kind of clash?
[Chuckles] A violent one.
client has named two symbols, located them and described the desired
relationship between them. However, the desired outcomes result in a
continuation (or possibly an
escalation) of the Problem. This is the third indication that a
binding pattern is involved.
We asked 'What kind of clash?" to check if the client's
evaluation of this particular "clash" was desired, in which case we would have continued with Phase 3. Since the
client's clearly did not want a "violent" clash between Science and
Spirituality, we acknowledge the bind and return to Phase 2, making use of the PRO model to identify the intention of both "two parts/sides":
A violent clash. So when there’s a philosophical exchange there’s a violent clash. So when there’s that philosophical exchange and a violent clash, what would that Science part like to have happen?
She’d like to be right.
She would like to be right. And when she would like to be right when there’s a philosophical exchange and a clash, what would a Spiritual part or side, like to have happen?
She would like to have the Science part understand that it doesn’t have to be right.
And Science would like to be right. And the Spiritual part would like the Science part to understand it doesn’t have to be right.
That she doesn’t have to be right.
The incompatibility of intentions between "Science" and "Spiritually" and their presumably approximately
equal influence (since neither of them has yet 'won') are hallmarks of a
binding pattern. Having identified each of their intentions we can
return to developing the desired Outcome landscape (Phase 3):
And you’d like them to mix and not be one, to share their experience.
In the goal of doing a third one.
In the goal of doing a third one. And what kind of third one?
The third one doesn’t ask herself questions in terms of science or spiritual, but knows it.
Doesn’t ask questions, but knows it.
It doesn’t know the questions, but knows the answers. So doesn’t have to ask oneself the questions.
And what kind of knows is that knows that doesn’t have to ask the questions?
a know that’s simple, in the present, trustful, trusting both
outside and inside of me [client shifts posture, crossing arms and
Trusting both the outside and the inside, in the present, a simple know. And when that know is simple, and trusting, and in the present, whereabouts is that know?
[Clients sits up and gestures with both arms simultaneously] Here. From head to toe.
It's a head-to-toe know. Both inside and outside. Is there anything else about a know that’s from head to toe, trusting and in the present and simple?
It’s like a second skin.
A second skin. What kind of skin is a second skin?
One which cannot be damaged from outside or inside.
Not damaged from the outside or the inside. Anything else about that second skin?
It’s more like a protection system.
A protection system.
[Chuckles, crosses arms and legs in the opposite direction, and rocks on his chair.]
The "third one" operates out of a different worldview from that of
"Science" or "Spirituality" and is therefore potentially a different way
of relating than "conflict".
We note that a "protection system"
is likely to be a Remedy since it presupposes something that can be "damaged". We
just note it since protection-like Remedies are sometimes needed to manage the current circumstances.
client's last nonverbals suggest a significant shift of state has just
occurred and something is happening internally, which is why we 'go live'.
What’s happening now?
was thinking about what I said before. Because that picture of a second
skin is not very close to the third part I wanted to feel. [Pause] I
don’t need that second skin. I’d like just to have
that third part.
The proposed Remedy of "a second skin" fails to satisfy the original
Outcome and is abandoned by the client. The proposal and rejection of a
Remedy is the fifth indication of a binding pattern. And, every
rejected Remedy plays a valuable role because it helps the
client's system to know more about the kind of outcome that will
satisfy. We therefore facilitate the client to continue developing their desired Outcome landscape
And that's what you’d like to have, that third part, and no need for a second skin. And what kind of third part is that third part that doesn’t need a second skin?
It doesn’t hide anything. As I said before, in the present,
and takes into account the past in terms of experience, but not in terms
It's the experience of the past, not judgement.
And that's an honest, doesn’t hide, third part.
Doesn’t need a second skin but it does know the answers,
simple and in the present and can trust both the outside and the inside.
Is there anything else about that third part?
Its vision of the future is not thought.
So when it’s not thought then what is its vision of the future?
[Chuckles and says something under his breath] Could you repeat?
What did you just say?
I’m trying not to think. [Laughs]
So this is a third part that has a vision of the future, but it doesn’t think. So what kind of vision is that vision when it doesn’t think?
Paradoxically it’s a vision in the present.
And whereabouts is that vision, that’s in the present?
[Taps his forehead] Right here.
There. And is there anything else about it when it’s right there?
It starts from here.
It starts from there, and goes where?
On the forehead, and goes down to the feet.
So it starts there on the forehead, goes down to the feet.
And it comes back to having one’s feet on the ground.
It comes back to having feet on the ground. And so what kind of ground could that ground be that feet are on?
A real ground. So that’s having feet on the real ground. And there’s a third part with a vision of the future that comes down and has feet on the ground. And is there anything else about that ground?
It’s all over. It’s global.
Except for F34 & F38 (two 'going live' questions), we 'stayed put' between F26 and F45,
i.e. we directed the client's attention to just one key aspect of his
landscape, "a third one". Now the client has a much more developed
desired Outcome landscape and so it's time to continue to:
Phase 4: Explore effects of desired Outcome landscape Once the landscape is developed, the client can explore the effects
of their desired outcome happening. We do this in two ways. We invite the client
to attend to: (i) what they perceive will happen after
their desired outcome occurs, and (ii) how their desired outcome
handles problematic situations previously described (this is why we
noted the exact words for the client’s Problems that arose in Phases 2 and 3).
a global ground that feet are on, that’s real with a third
part that’s honest, doesn’t hide, is trustful of the
outside and the inside, doesn’t need a second skin, is in the
present, and knows simple answers, and has a vision of the future
that’s not a thought. And then what happens?
The moment when my feet are on the ground and the first two parts can
start to communicate, and the third one creates itself.
that’s when feet are on the ground, the two parts communicate
and that creates the third one. The third one can create itself.
Knowing that it started from the third one. [Laughs]
Is there anything else about all that?
don’t know. [Long pause] There was an idea which went through
at some point, but I cannot find it. It was very simple. At the moment
the third part was going down to the ground I had a lightening up, but I
pauses and a first "I don't know" suggests something unusual is
beginning to happen. It appears a change has occurred momentarily but a
Problem "can't remember" is
preventing the client from accessing it. This is the sixth indication of a
binding pattern operating in-the-here-and-now. So we work with what's
It was a lightening up.
Which was really changing this binary way of thinking.
And is there anything else about that lightening up?
obviousness. [Pause. Laughs. Sits up] It’s difficult because I
keep on slightly touching ... but the light is here [gestures in front
of him]. I could take it, but I barely touch it. I can’t take
I can’t take it, I can barely touch it. So what kind of touch is that touch when you can barely touch it?
body back and forth] When I approach it goes back. And it comes back
– When I come back it approaches. Very annoying. [Laughs]
It goes when you come back. So then what happens when you approach and it goes [gestures back and forth]? And you can only lightly touch it, then what happens?
I stop trying to catch it, and I wait to let it come.
And you stop and you wait and it comes, and where does it come to?
It comes closer to me.
And as you stop, and it comes closer, then what happens?
It takes me.
It takes you.
It lightens me.
At C50 and C51 the client enacts a binding pattern with the back and forth movement of his body – the seventh indication. And then something unexpected happens "I stop trying to catch it and I wait" (C52). As a result a spontaneous change occurs:
"It comes closer" and then "It takes me" and "It lightens me". These
are not desired changes anymore they are happening in real time. Notice
that these changes are not accompanied by a big emotion or a fanfare.
The scale of the change is less important than its effect. Is this a
difference that makes a difference? (Bateson) We aim to find out by
immediately moving to:
Phase 5: Mature changes as they occur Our
aim when maturing is for the client to find out whether the change
starts a contagion which creates a new or reorganized metaphor
landscape, or whether it invokes doubts, concerns, or fears, i.e. more Problems.
takes you and it lightens you. And that’s when you are there,
and it comes and it takes you and it lightens you. And when you stop
trying to catch it and you wait, and then what happens?
I feel more full. Full or one.
And whereabouts do you feel more full or one?
Whereabouts [points to his chest]?
[Taps his chest] On the sternum.
What kind of feeling is that, when you feel more full and one there [points to his chest]?
And what kind of release?
Like an octopus' tentacles.
So like the tentacles of an octopus releasing, and then what happens there [points to chest] when those tentacles release?
It allows me to act.
It allows you to act. Is there anything else when it allows you to act?
As that releases, and it allows you to act, to feel more full and one, with the light that has taken, and you sit back and wait, and then what happens to a third part’s vision of the future?
there [does a twisting gesture with two fingers of right hand].
She’s sitting with the two other ones, like having a drink,
having a beer.
Like having a beer together. So whereabouts are the two other ones in relation to the third one?
Each on one side.
Each on one side. Like having a beer, Science and Spirituality. [Laughter] And then what happens totheir visions of the future?
one goes back home with the idea that they aren’t necessarily
right and Spirituality doesn’t have to constantly try and
And Spirituality doesn’t have to constantly try and convince Science. And what about Science, what happens when she goes back home?
Doesn’t believe it’s necessarily right. It’s a possibility, nothing more
It’s a possibility. And then what happens?
me, the stress closes back. The waiting – back while I was
waiting for the fight – the waiting has disappeared.
And what happens to feet on a global ground?
And what kind of walk is the walk of those feet?
as those feet volunteer and walk on that global ground,
that’s a real ground, and a third part had a beer with the
other two, and a third part that’s been created,
that’s honest and trustful of the outside and the inside, and
knows the simple answers, then what happens?
And what happens to the relationship between the two sides when it rolls?
It follows the movement.
And it rolls and it follows the movement. And as it rolls and follows the movement, what happens there [points to centre of his chest] where there was a releasing of the tentacles?
There’s just left a ball of energy, right in the centre.
A ball of energy right in the centre. Is there anything else about that ball? What kind of ball is that ball of energy?
A ball of energy. You could say it’s like a sun, but
it’s not that. It’s smaller than the sun, but
potentially the same power – inside.
So potentially the same power inside. So when that ball of energy has potentially the energy of the sun, and feet can roll over the global ground, and the parts can follow the movement, what would that ball of energy like to have happen?
That he be left there.
appearance of a new metaphor "ball of energy" where once there was a
problematic metaphor "octopus' tentacles" is a further sign that a
reorganised landscape is emerging to take the place of the previous
problematic landscape. We would have continued maturing the changes
– developing, evolving (over time) and spreading (across
space) – and checking how the new landscape handles previously
problematic situations, except that the client had already hinted he
was ready to stop, and at C74 was emphatic.
Phase 6: Set down
That it be left alone.
So is there anything else you need right now in relation to those two parts?
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.