Training with

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley

in Symbolic Modelling using the Clean Language of David Grove

London * Lancashire * USA * The Netherlands

Caroline Myss, Ph.D., best selling author of Anatomy of the Spirit'and Sacred Contracts says:

"Tompkins and Lawley provide people with a tool for profound analysis and insight. The use of metaphors as a means of evaluating how you order your world, your relationships, your occupation, and interpret the experiences of your life is invaluable."

Eric Robbie, Editor of Rapport, wrote in Issue 60:

"Of all the new stuff to emerge in the last 20 years, especially here in the UK, the most significant, the most radical, and the most influential is the work done by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley in taking the ideas of David Grove, and running with them. Their combined approach is, as they say, a true paradigm shift. After taking their stuff on board, you can't go back."

TWO 4.5-day MODULES (residential) - The Omega Institute, New York, USA

Modules I & II (Level 1)

(Open to all)

11 - 15 October, 2004

Monday - Friday (noon)

Modules III (Level 2)

(requires attendance on Modules I & II, Level 1)

18 - 22 October, 2004

Monday - Friday (noon)

OVERVIEW (full course description below)

On this training you will learn how to use Symbolic Modelling to facilitate others to transform seemingly intractable issues, so that an enhanced sense of self and life purpose can emerge. Through lecture, demonstration, hands-on practice, and personal coaching you will learn to:

Module I

Introduction to Clean Language

  • Recognise metaphors hidden in everyday speech
  • Facilitate others using the 12 basic Clean Questions
  • Facilitate others to access, explore and evolve their personal Metaphor Landscape

Module II

A Framework for Change

  • Utilise 'The Problem, Solution, Outcome Model'
  • Establish the conditions necessary for organic change
  • Recognise and mature changes

Module III

Patterns of Systemic Change

  • Facilitate using specialised Clean Questions
  • Model client's binds and double-binds
  • Encourage natural change processes of translation and transformation
  • Incorporate Clean Space: David Grove's newest innovation

Our book Metaphors in Mind is required reading.

Also highly recommended is A Strange and Strong Sensation - a training video/DVD of a Symbolic Modelling client session complete with on-screen annotation. It comes with a 36-page explanatory booklet.containing a full transcript and unique 3-perspective annotation.

You will use your own personal development topics as the context for learning and so apply the process to your own transformation.

8-day MODULAR TRAINING (non-residential) - London, England

Module I

Introduction to Clean Language

(Open to all)

30 Sept & 1 Oct 2004

Thursday & Friday

Module II

A Framework for Change

(requires Module I or equivalent)

2 & 3 October 2004

Saturday & Sunday

Module III

Patterns of Systemic Change

(requires Module II)

28 - 31 October, 2004

Thursday - Sunday
  • Penny and James will be co-training with Wendy Sullivan and Phil Swallow on Modules I and II.
  • Venue: The London Voluntary Resource Centre, London, N7 (near Holloway Road Underground)
  • Cost:
    • For individuals:
      • £200.00 + VAT (£235.00) for module I,
      • £200.00 + VAT (£235.00) for module II
      • £400.00 + VAT (£470.00) for module III,
      • £700.00 + VAT (£822.50) if all 8 days booked together.
    • Please apply for corporate rates.
  • To book your place:
    • Please send to the address below a non-refundable deposit: A cheque for £50 for 2 days, £100 for 4 days or £150 for 8 days, made payable to 'The Developing Company'. Balance due by 30th August.
    • Overseas participants are welcome to pay by Mastercard or Visa (see below).
  • Completed this training before? If so you can attend each repeated module at a 50% discount.

One-day Introduction + a 3-day MODULE (non-residential) - Lancahire, England

One-day Introductions to Clean Language

with Derek Jackson

(open to all)

20 June

12 September

26 November

Module II (3 day)

A Framework for Change

with Penny Tompkins and James Lawley

(requires a one-day Introduction)

27- 29 November 2004

8-day MODULAR TRAINING (non-residential) - Nijmegen, The Netherlands (in English)

Module I

Introduction to Clean Language

(Open to all)

10 & 11 March 2005

Module II

A Framework for Change

(requires Module I or equivalent)

12 & 13 March 2005

Module III

Patterns of Systemic Change

(requires Module II)

18 - 21 June, 2005
  • Venue: IEP (Institute for Ecletic Psychology), Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
  • To book your place contact the IEP office: +31 (0)24 323 08 37


Metaphor and Clean Language are heart and soul of Symbolic Modelling.

When people use metaphor to describe their inner experience ("I'm going round in circles," "I feel empty," "I've lost my connection to the spiritual") they are revealing something uniquely personal and meaningful. A metaphor is like a hologram, it contains the essence of the whole person; and as individual's metaphors change, so their behaviour, thoughts and feelings change as well.

"In all aspects of life we define our reality in terms of metaphors and then proceed to act on the basis of the metaphors. We draw inferences, set goals, make commitments, and execute plans, all on the basis of how we in part structure our experience, consciously and unconsciously, by means of metaphor". (George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By)

Clean Language is a profoundly respectful questioning process developed by internationally acclaimed therapist David Grove. Clean Language can help individuals become familiar with their personal metaphors and symbols so they discover new ways of perceiving themselves and their world. It is also a tailor-made tool for modelling. At the core of Clean Language are 9 simple questions and a unique way of asking them.


Symbolic Modelling is a new way of thinking about the change process. It combines advances in contemporary psychology with developments in the science of self-organising systems.

This training offers psychotherapists and counsellors as well as coaches and consultants an opportunity to experience first-hand the benefits now available through these innovations. It will also be of value to individuals who want to gain a deeper appreciation of themselves and to enhance their ability to listen and communicate with partners, children and colleagues.

A Framework for Change is a highly effective and flexible approach to facilitating people to define their own problems, propose their own solutions, construct their own desired outcomes and discover what needs to happen for change to occur naturally. No change technique is required -- changes occur spontaneously and are matured organically until the client has embodied new metaphors to live by. What makes this methodology so useful and innovative is its simplicity and its 'clean' philosophy. Ernest Rossi, long time collaborator with Milton Erickson, says this approach "helps people learn how to facilitate their own creativity in solving their own problems in their own way. Well done!"


How is it that sometimes people want to change, try to change, and may even make changes, yet they end up repeating the same old patterns? We discovered that these people experienced themselves as 'blocked', 'stuck' or 'going round in circles' by an interlocking logic from which there is no escape -- a bind. Binds replicate unwanted symptoms, tie up resources and prevent resolution.

Although they take many forms, there are four commonly occurring types of bind: conflict, dilemma, impasse and paradox. Our research has shown that these binding patterns can be further constrained by a secondary bind which means they become double binds. While Gregory Bateson and R.D. Laing did much to define the structure of double binds, they were never able to find a methodology for working with that structure. Although the organisation of each bind is unique, we have created a general process for identifying and resolving binding patterns. The process uses Symbolic Modelling to facilitate qualitative and transformative change that naturally emerges out of the organisation of the existing binding pattern.

Soon after we developed our process David Grove created Clean Space, a fascinating and complementary new approach that uses emergence to model human perception and facilitate organic change. With Clean Space the client lays out the content of their mind in an embodied process that enables them to figure out (self-model) how it all fits together. Amazingly, no specific change technique is required. Change happens organically as a result of the client's system becoming more aware of its own organization.

Clean Space is a very flexible process that can be adapted in hundreds of ways. It can be used by individuals to solve problems, to stimulate creativity, as a way to prepare for exams, and as a generative development process. It has also been used with couples, in conflict resolution and negotiation, and in group facilitation.

Lead Trainers:

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley are supervsing psychotherapists, registered with the UKCP since 1993, and certified NLP trainers committed to developing the developers of others: counsellors, therapists, coaches, managers and teachers. Prior to 1989 Penny was co-managing director of a company manufacturing oil-field equipment and James was a senior manager in the telecommunications industry. They have studied extensively with David Grove and have developed a new model of his work called Symbolic Modelling. This makes it easy to acquire the fundamental principles and practice of the three components of Symbolic Modelling: Clean Language, Metaphor and Modelling. They are co-authors of Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling. A more extensive biography is available.

Penny and James are also offer a variety of personal development events.

Co-trainers on the London Modules I & II:

Wendy Sullivan and Phil Swallow have trained Symbolic Modelling and Clean Language in the UK, France and South Africa. Wendy is a Speech and Language Therapist and certified NLP trainer.  She works with individuals and teams as a coach, trainer and therapist. Phil has worked with Clean Language in Italian, French, Spanish and English. He is a Master Practitioner of NLP, a trainer and practices therapy and coaching in London and the West Country. For more details, visit



Angus I McLeod, Ph.D. says in Performance Coaching: The Handbook for Managers, HR Professionals and Coaches (ISBN: 1904 424 058, Crown House Publications, 2003):

"My linguistic background was enhanced by the work of David Grove ("clean language") and then of Penny Tompkins and James Lawley ("symbolic modelling"). These three people have wonderfully presented us with simple and effective models for exploring the metaphoric world and finding compelling solutions. [p.4]

No contribution to coaching would be complete without reference to the outstanding work of Penny Tompkins and James Lawley. With its basis in Clean Language and its focus on coachee metaphors, Symbolic Modeling offers a powerful skill-set for personal change and development geared to compelling targets. In its overt use, Symbolic Modeling may not appeal to all managements. However, I use several of the interventions and the language patterns of Symbolic Modeling in my work and have never encountered any resistance to them during a coaching session, even though the language seems to many observers to be contrived. Do not be misled by the language constructs: they are powerful keys to unlocking motivated change. The examples of coaching given in this book are highly influenced by such language constructs.

The core of Symbolic Modeling is in both Clean Language and accurate reflection of the coachee's language. These language patterns work, rather like trance, to help the coachee to remain suspended in their symbolic world without the external distractions offered by the well-meaning coach. Symbolic Modeling encourages and maintains the coachee in that world and helps them to devise symbolic solutions to their performance and personal issues in unique and highly compelling ways. Symbolic Modeling is also easily amenable to a wide range of coaches and highly effective even in the hands of the initiate." [pp 183-184]


John Joint  Chief Executive and Senior Coach,  JointCoaching:

"I attended in 2002 and it is a really cutting edge approach that takes internal representations to a new level.  Penny and James modelled David Groves, the originator of Clean Language, and found a whole new dimension to the way people represent the world to themselves through symbols and metaphors.  Since they have created their own metaphor landscape for the world, it follows that the success of anything they want to do will lie within that landscape and how they have chosen to build it.  Problems and their solutions are also there.  As they transform their landscape so they can experience a transformed world.

This is a very effective approach to use in coaching and Penny and James teach both the concept and the practical applications, including Clean Language.  The course is very much hands on with plenty of opportunity to practice and improve. This really works, and I have used it with many of my clients.  In fact it is practically impossible not to.  The transformations can be significant and clients can make great strides towards achieving what they want to have happen.  In fact some of my clients have experienced spectacular shifts for the better as a result - it really has to be seen to be believed.

The beauty of the approach is that the Coach has to leave their own stuff outside and becomes a true facilitator as the client finds their own answers.  This course is not for those coaches who have all the answers and want to tell their clients what they should do, but rather for those who genuinely want to take their coaching skills to new levels, recognizing that the client has the solution within themselves. I highly recommend the eight day programme.".

Mariette Castellino, Director and Senior Coach, Amicas:

"Having completed this course a number of years ago, I can thoroughly recommend the ground-breaking work Penny & James have been doing with Symbolic Modelling. I use this approach with Amicas clients who find it extremely helpful - whether I'm facilitating individuals and teams to work at their best, or find solutions to persistent problems."

Susie Greenwood, teacher:

"I would like to start by thanking you both for a wonderful, inspiring 3 days - I am exhausted, ecstatic and exhilarated!"

Simon Stanton, computer trainer:

"Penny and James lead us gently but firmly through a highly interactive weekend, with plenty of opportunity at every stage to practise and integrate the skills. Many on the course found it to be a profound experience, evolving and developing ones own metaphors (particularly those relating to conflict or problem) can be a transformational (or is that trance-formational?) experience. Although this was only Part One, I have already been putting the techniques to use in my role as a computer trainer, with some remarkable results. And Part Two is yet to come..."

Linda Tolmie, hypnotherapist:

"Having read your articles in Rapport about Grovian Metaphor and Clean Language, I was fascinated to know more and see if this was something I could add to my tool kit of techniques to use in my hypnotherapy practice. I was both stunned and amazed by the effectiveness of the technique, and more exhausted at the end of it than I would have been had I challenged Linford Christie to a race!"

See reports for more extensive comments by participants.


To book your place on the London trainings:

1. UK-based participants can send a Pound Sterling cheque made payable to 'The Developing Company' to the adress below.

2. Overseas participants can authorise the debit of their Credit Card MasterCard Visa by:

Giving the following card details:

Type of card
Name as it appears on card
Card number
Expiry date
Address of cardholder
Contact Telephone number

Your account will be debited in your local currency.

For more information see Frequently Asked Questions or the following articles written by Penny and James:

Contact Information

All information on this web site (unless otherwise stated) is © copyright 1997-2005 Penny Tompkins and James Lawley of The Developing Company. All rights reserved. You may reproduce and disseminate any of our copyrighted information for personal use only providing the original source is clearly identified. If you wish to use the material for any other reason please contact:

Penny Tompkins or James Lawley
The Developing Company
P.O. Box 349, LISBURN BT28 1WZ, United Kingdom
Tel./Fax.: 0845 3 31 35 31 * International: +44 845 3 31 35 31

Thank you for your interest in this web site:

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Updated 26.9.04