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2. Clean Language Room
Clean Language
As we enter this room you may be wondering, 'Exactly what is Clean Language?'.

On the surface Clean Language is a set of questions developed by therapist David Grove in the 1980s and 1990s; and it has many hidden depths.

Clean Language is ‘clean’ because it keeps the facilitator from unwittingly introducing their metaphors, assumptions or suggestions into a conversation (no matter how well meaning these may be). Clean questions encourage metaphors, ideas, self-reflections and ah-ha’s to crystallise in awareness. When personal change is the goal, Clean Language invites a client's perceptions to evolve and change organically — one question at a time.

Let me be clear, ‘clean’ does not mean ‘no influence’.  All language influences and Clean Language wouldn’t be much use if it didn’t have an effect. Because of its ability to respectfully invite clients to attend to particular aspects of their inner world, Clean Language influences the direction of a client’s mind-body-spirit process – without contaminating the content of their experience. Other processes may do this too, but none do it so cleanly or in quite the way that Clean Language does, and none are so tailored to work with metaphor.

James Lawley and I (Penny Tompkins) first published our model of David's questions in 1996 in Less is More: the Art of Clean Language. As befits a dynamic process, our model is still developing and for a review of our thinking see: Clean Language Revisited: The Evolution of a Model.

If you are new to Clean Language, and would like a two-page example of how it is used with metaphor, see Conversing with Metaphor; for a more extensive description, see Angelar Dunbar's Using Metaphors with Coaching.

Language is so much more than words, and Clean Language Without Words explains how to ask questions of movements of the body, sounds and other nonverbal behaviour. There can be a lot of information stored in a gesture, a glance, or even a sigh and Clean Language is great for encouraging what’s behind those expressions to reveal itself.

Although Clean Language was originally designed to work therapeutically with clients’ metaphors and symbols, these days it is used more conversationally in hundreds of ways — by researchers, teachers, the police, managers, consultants, health practitioners and many others. You'll have time to view some of these exciting developments when we get to the Applications Room.

When you’ve finished in the Clean Language room we'll proceed to the Metaphor Room.

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