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James Lawley

James LawleyJames Lawley is a UKCP registered psychotherapist, coach in business, and certified NLP trainer, and professional modeller. He is a co-developer of Symbolic Modelling and co-author (with Penny Tompkins) of Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling. For a more detailed  biography see about us and his blog.

What do you know about Symbolic Modelling?
By James Lawley | Published  16 02 2012
Download a print-friendly version: 2012-02-16 What do you know about SyM.pdf

Penny Tompkins and I were modelled during an Advanced NLP Modelling Seminar run by  Inspiritive.

On the first day participants learned how to set up and maintain a “know nothing modelling state”. This method of “unconscious uptake” and sufficient exposure to exemplars (excellent models of the skill to be acquired) are the only requirement for this kind of implicit modelling.

For the next two days the participants maintained that state while observing us using Symbolic Modelling as  a change process with clients. They were not allowed to ask any questions and we could not comment on or explain what we were doing.

Day four was more of the same except the participants had a go at reproducing our behaviours. They were not trying to consciously do the process but instead just let their unconscious minds “blurt” out the questions. By now they had seen 16 demonstrations each lasting between 30 and 60 minutes.

The final day consisted of more demonstrations by us, more of them blurting, and a final session where participants could assess how much they had acquired explicitly  by answering questions about our process.

I devised a series of questions which I thought would provide feedback to the participants, and us, about what parts of our model they had acquired and to what degree. I only had time to ask a few of the questions but I thought the complete list would be useful for anyone learning how to do Symbolic Modelling.

The aim of the questions below is not to get the ‘right’ answer because you have been told it or read it, the aim is that the answers come from your observation of live demonstrations, video and audio recordings, and transcripts. Actually, aim goes further than that. We expect that your answers to the questions will give you feedback about the model of Symbolic Modelling you have constructed in your own mind-body system. The next step is to get feedback on how much of it you can do. [One way is through an assessment process.]

The first set of questions have answers from our (Penny & James) observable behaviour:

1. What questions do we ask most frequently?

2. Does this frequency change depending whether it is:
    - at the beginning
    - in the middle
    - towards the end
    of a session? (If so, how?)

3. What are we doing with our gestures and lines of sight?

4. What are the common forms of syntax of our questions?

5. What kinds of information do we ask about most?

6. How do we know when to ask a question?

7. Under what conditions do we usually ask (i.e. what typically triggers us to ask):

a. And what would you like to have happen?

b. And what would [symbol] like to have happen?

c. And then what happens/what happens next?
    - at the beginning
    - in the middle
    - towards the end
    of a session?

d. And that's like what?
e. And does X have a size or a shape?

f. And what happens just before ...?

8. What question most commonly follows a 'where' question?

9. If we could only write down two things from the client’s information, what would they be?  

10. What do we not do?

The following questions require ‘reverse engineering’ – from external behaviour to internal process

11. When we appear 'lost' and don't know what to do, what do we commonly ask?

12. What are we aiming for during the:
     - Beginning
     - Middle
     - End
      of a session?

13. What are we attending to during the pauses?

14. What are the key frames we hold during the session?

15. How would you describe the perspective (perceptual position) we typically take during the session?

While these questions relate to Symbolic Modelling, if you extract the format you’ll see how they could become fairly generic and apply to many situations where you want to test your knowledge of a model of facilitation.


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