Article from

First published on YouTube, 11 July 2011

When Science and Spirituality have a Beer

a full Symbolic Modelling session in English and French

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley

Below is a 45 minute unedited video of a Symbolic Modelling demonstration. It took place on an 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.

If the video does not play you can see it on YouTube at:

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-preserving pattern 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.
Where would you like to be?
C: [Client sits down]
F: Where would you like us to be?
C: [Points to chairs]
F: Is this at the right angle?
C: [Nonverbal adjustments]
F: Is this the right distance?
C: [More adjustments]
When the client is settled within his spatial configuration, we continue:

Phase 2: Identifying a desired Outcome
We use the Problem-Remedy-Outcome (PRO) model to offer the client the opportunity to identify an initial desired Outcome.

F1 And what would you like to have happen?
I'd 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 opposite.
F2 And so 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.
C Yes because my future is my future, whatever happens.
F3 It’s the perception of the future.
C [Nods]
And what is it that you want to feel for these two parts?
C I’d like them to mix, not be one, not in conflict, not in opposition.

[NOTE: F4 requests a desired Outcome with an unconventional clean question prompted by the client starting ... but not finishing his opening sentence.]

Using 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.

F5 To 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?
C One there [touches the right side of his head]. And the other one outside [points with outstretched left arm].
F6 Whereabouts outside?
C In the air, all over.
F7 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]?
C Here on the right side.
F8 Is that on the inside or the outside?
C Inside.
F9 And that's where the perception of the future is for this part.
C Yes.

Four 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

F10 And what you’d like is for there to be a mix. And what kind of mix?
C A closeness and a dance between the two.
F11 A closeness and a dance. And is there anything else about that closeness and dance between the two?
C They look at each other in the eyes.
F12 They look each other in the eyes. And what kind of look is that look when they look each other in the eyes?
C It's a contact.
F13 A look of contact. Anything else about that look?
C It's a contact that allows me to say that they exist one and the other. Not for me, but between them.
F14 That they exist between them. And is there anything else about that look, that contact, when it exists between them?
C [Chuckles] 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 attention 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.]

F15 For the moment it’s in anger. And what you would like is ... ?
C That contact happens without that anger.
F16 So when that contact happens without that anger, then what happens?
It exchanges.

When 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).

F17 What kind of exchanges?
C I would say a philosophical exchange. A sharing of experience. A sharing of their own vision. They succeed in expressing for themselves.
F18 A philosophical exchange. Is there anything else about that kind of exchange?
C It's an exchange between Spirituality and Science.
F19 It's an exchange between Spirituality and Science. And which is on which side?
C Science [taps right side of head].
F20 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?
C It clashes
F21 And what kind of clash?
C [Chuckles] A violent one.

The 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":

F22 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?
C She’d like to be right.
F23 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?
C She would like to have the Science part understand that it doesn’t have to be right.
F24 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.
C 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.
C In the goal of doing a third one.
F26 In the goal of doing a third one. And what kind of third one?
C The third one doesn’t ask herself questions in terms of science or spiritual, but knows it.
F27 Doesn’t ask questions, but knows it.
C It doesn’t know the questions, but knows the answers. So doesn’t have to ask oneself the questions.
F28 And what kind of knows is that knows that doesn’t have to ask the questions?
C It’s a know that’s simple, in the present, trustful, trusting both outside and inside of me [client shifts posture, crossing arms and legs].
F29 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?
C [Clients sits up and gestures with both arms simultaneously] Here. From head to toe.
F30 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?
C It’s like a second skin.
A second skin. What kind of skin is a second skin?
C One which cannot be damaged from outside or inside.
F32 Not damaged from the outside or the inside. Anything else about that second skin?
C It’s more like a protection system.
A protection system.
C [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.

The client's last nonverbals suggest a significant shift of state has just occurred and something is happening internally, which is why we 'go live'.

F34 What’s happening now?
C I 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 desired 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 (Phase 3).

F35 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?
C Honest. 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 of judgement.
F36 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?
C Its vision of the future is not thought.
F37 So when it’s not thought then what is its vision of the future?
C [Chuckles and says something under his breath] Could you repeat?
F38 What did you just say?
C I’m trying not to think. [Laughs]
F39 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?
C Paradoxically it’s a vision in the present.
F40 And whereabouts is that vision, that’s in the present?
C [Taps his forehead] Right here.
F41 There. And is there anything else about it when it’s right there?
It starts from here.
F42 It starts from there, and goes where?
C On the forehead, and goes down to the feet.
F43 So it starts there on the forehead, goes down to the feet.
C 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?
C Real.
F45 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?
C 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).

F46 It’s 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?
C [Pause] The moment when my feet are on the ground and the first two parts can start to communicate, and the third one creates itself.
F47 So that’s when feet are on the ground, the two parts communicate and that creates the third one. The third one can create itself.
C Knowing that it started from the third one. [Laughs]
F48 Is there anything else about all that?
C I 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 can’t remember.

The 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 happening.

F49 It was a lightening up.
C Which was really changing this binary way of thinking.
F50 And is there anything else about that lightening up?
C An 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 it.
F51 I can’t take it, I can barely touch it. So what kind of touch is that touch when you can barely touch it?
C [Moving body back and forth] When I approach it goes back. And it comes back – When I come back it approaches. Very annoying. [Laughs]
F52 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?
C I stop trying to catch it, and I wait to let it come.
F53 And you stop and you wait and it comes, and where does it come to?
C It comes closer to me.
F54 And as you stop, and it comes closer, then what happens?
It takes me.
F55 It takes you.
C 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.
F56 It 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?
C I feel more full. Full or one.
F57 And whereabouts do you feel more full or one?
C [Touches chest]
F58 Whereabouts [points to his chest]?
C [Taps his chest] On the sternum.
F59 What kind of feeling is that, when you feel more full and one there [points to his chest]?
C A release.
F60 And what kind of release?
C Like an octopus' tentacles.
F61 So like the tentacles of an octopus releasing, and then what happens there [points to chest] when those tentacles release?
C It allows me to act.
F62 It allows you to act. Is there anything else when it allows you to act?
C No.
F63 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?
C It’s 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.
F64 Like having a beer together. So whereabouts are the two other ones in relation to the third one?
C Each on one side.
F65 Each on one side. Like having a beer, Science and Spirituality. [Laughter] And then what happens to their visions of the future?
C Each one goes back home with the idea that they aren’t necessarily right and Spirituality doesn’t have to constantly try and convince.
F66 And Spirituality doesn’t have to constantly try and convince Science. And what about Science, what happens when she goes back home?
C Doesn’t believe it’s necessarily right. It’s a possibility, nothing more
F67 It’s a possibility. And then what happens?
C For me, the stress closes back. The waiting – back while I was waiting for the fight – the waiting has disappeared.
F68 And what happens to feet on a global ground?
C They walk.
F69 And what kind of walk is the walk of those feet?
C Volunteer.
F70 And 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?
C It rolls.
And what happens to the relationship between the two sides when it rolls?
C It follows the movement.
F72 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?
C There’s just left a ball of energy, right in the centre.
F73 A ball of energy right in the centre. Is there anything else about that ball? What kind of ball is that ball of energy?
C [Shrugs] 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.
F74 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?
C That he be left there.
The 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
F75 OK [Laughs].
C That it be left alone.
F76 So is there anything else you need right now in relation to those two parts?
C Seriously?
F77 I just want to check.
C No.


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:

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