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2. Facilitator choices

Even if you facilitate the Lite version of Clean Space exactly, you will still have plenty of choice and will need to constantly make decisions such as:

- How do you know when to ask your next question?
- In which order do you return the client to existing spaces?
- Which spaces do you refer to in the ‘Returning to’ routine?

And a whole host of nonverbal considerations including:

- Where to position yourself?
- How to deliver your questions and instructions?

These choices are discussed below.

In addition once you are familiar with the Lite version (i.e. you can run it without any reference to the diagram) there are more facilitator choices and variations available. These are divided up according to whether they relate to choices about:

2.1    The Network
2.2    Facilitator Language
2.3    Client Content

Source of facilitator decisions

But before we look at your options, we want you to consider: Where does the motivation for that choice come from?  In general terms there are three places where choices come from. We can metaphorically speak of these as behind, within, and out there (see diagram below).

BEHIND                F            OUT THERE
- Past learning       A            - For the client        
- Theories             C            - In the process
- Techniques          I            - With the configuration
- Experience          L
General beliefs       I                    

                Your own stuff that is activated during the process:
                - Personal beliefs
                - Emotions
                - Patterns
                - Desires, preferences
                - TA Drivers

Sources of Motivation to Introduce Variation into the Lite Version of Clean Space

We suggest that the more your decisions are based on what is happening for the client ‘out there’ the more you will be tailoring the process to the idiosyncrasies of this particular client at this particular moment in time. To do this requires a high degree of sensory acuity, self-awareness and the ability to ‘park’ your personal reactions.

Of course no one can do this entirely. But as John Grinder says: “The agent of change has a special responsibility to not make an imposition of their perceptions, beliefs or values. This is almost an impossible task. But it's one worth struggling to achieve.” For the novice facilitator, the best way to achieve this is to stick to the process.


How many spaces to include in the network?
Ways to establish the network
How many spaces to return to?
Which spaces to refer to?
Marking and naming spaces
Placing yourself in relation to the client and their network

How many spaces to include in the network?

The Lite version is particularly aimed at novice facilitators. Our aim for those learning to facilitate Clean Space is to understand the essence of the process without having to take decisions which require experience you do not yet have. Specifying that the initial network should consist of six spaces is one less choice you have to make.

David Grove found it generally takes more than three iterations for a person to go beyond what is obvious to their system. David plumped for six as the number which would have the optimum effect for the minimum number of spaces. For more on this topic see Philip Harland’s forthcoming book The Power of Six and the chapter on “Knowing the Numbers”.

Clean Space requires a number of interconnected spaces for the emergence of a network. It doesn’t have to be six. If you are short of time it could be five, even four might do. With plenty of time and if it seemed relevant to a particular client you may go well beyond six. However more is not necessarily better. At some number the ‘law of diminishing returns’ will likely become a factor.

An experienced facilitator may choose to establish further spaces during the ‘Returning to’ phase if the client indicates that a piece of their puzzle does not yet have a space, or some vital new piece of information has made itself known. Above six spaces there is always a trade off between being more inclusive, the time available, and the added value.

Ways to establish the network

The Lite version establishes a network of six spaces using the instruction:

And find another space.

We recommend this form of words because they are so open they leave the client plenty of room to move to any other location and then discover what they know from there. Other, more directive instructions have been tired. These include using –

a. The statement/drawing as the reference point for each move:

And find a space that knows something else about that [gesture to statement/drawing].

b. The space they are currently occupying as the reference point for the next move:

And find a space that knows something else about this space [gesture to current space].

c. Some of the client’s content:

And find a space that knows something about [some of the client’s content].

d. A combination of the above

If used repeatedly (a) produces a star network, (b) a more linear network, (c & the Lite version) a more random network. Eventually, when the relationships between spaces are explored they all end with a mesh network.

How many spaces to return to?

Clean Space Lite suggests returning to “spaces 2 - 6 (in any order" before finishing in Space 1.

If you are short of time you can be reduce the number of spaces returned to three is a minimum. Any less and there is less chance of the network effect emerging.

The order in which you instruct the client to return to existing spaces is left to your discretion. As discussed above, this should be mostly based on what is happening for the client, where they are in the process and the configuration of the network.

Some strategies for deciding which space to revisit first include:

- Where the client has indicated something has changed.
- The space where the client had the biggest (nonverbal) response.
- ‘The odd man out’.
- The space furthest away.

Our advice is to not have a pre-determined strategy but to make each of your decisions in the moment.

As you become more adept and if time is not an issue you can consider revisiting a space more than once. David Grove realised the value of iteration. We saw him repeatedly return a client to a ‘Sweet Spot’ (a space where there is a lot of new knowing), and often repeatedly return a client to Space 1.

As an aside, it is possible to dispense with the ‘Returning to’ routine entirely. For example, having established the six spaces you move the client straight back to Space 1 and ask the ‘Finishing’ questions. While we have seen many people derive a great deal of benefit from this type of procedure (and it can generally be completed in 20 minutes), it does not have the potential for the richness of Clean Space’s network effect.

Which spaces to refer to?

Once the initial network of six spaces is established you will have a choice of five other spaces to refer to with your question:

And is there anything else you know from there about [gesture to one of the other marked spaces]?

You aim is for the interconnected nature of the network to be brought into the foreground and for the client to notice the effect of considering an experience from several perspectives.

As a general rule, you do not need to ask the client to consider all of the other five spaces each time. Three is reasonable number. You will need to make the choice in the moment based on the client’s responses, the configuration of the network and the time available.

The strategies listed above for choosing which spaces to revisit equally apply to which spaces to refer to. We recommend choosing spaces that seem to have the most effect while making sure no space is left behind. If you find that one space is particularly psychoactive, keep referring to it (see ‘Sweet Spot’ above).

And remember, at any time you can always add in another reference to the original statement/drawing.

Marking and naming spaces

The topic of whether or not to name a space produced the most discussion at The Developing Group. As a result in the Lite version we have opted for the client marking their own space, but not naming it. To achieve this we recommend the facilitator says:

And mark this space with this [hand client a post-it note].

And there are a number of other ways to mark spaces. In our previous Basic version the facilittor asked the client to name the space:

And what could this space be called?

And to write the name on a post-it note and place it where they are.

There are several advantages to naming a space:

To describe an experience in a short phrase, the client has to categorise their experience. To do this they have to review what happened in that space and decide on the core attributes that identify that experience. This in and of itself can be a valuable process.

When the client revisits the space or it is referred to from another space a name can help them remember what they experienced in that space. (In NLP terms it is a ‘verbal anchor’ in addition to the spatial and visual anchors of the post-it note.)

The facilitator can use the name to refer to the space. This is particularly useful when the spaces are widespread or there is no direct line-of-sight between one space and another.

The disadvantages of naming a space are:

The operation of handing a pen and post-it notes to the client each time can sometimes become cumbersome and interrupt the flow of the process.

Clients often end up holding the post-it notes and pen as they move around and this can restrict their use of gestures. (Generally the more their body is involved in the process the better.)

For some clients coming up with a name is considered difficult or a distraction from the topic they have chosen to be the focus of the process.

By the time a client returns to a space, or a space is referred to, something may have changed and the name could be out of date. As one client put it, “Not having a name gave me flexibility and allowed it to evolve.”

Note: If you are asking the client to name their spaces and at any time you cannot remember the exact words written on the post-it note, it is best to refer to the space by gesturing (rather than walking into the client's network to read their post-it note).

A third option we have trialed successfully is for the facilitator to place a post-it note where the client was standing just after they vacated the space and while they are moving to find the next space.

This allows the process to flow without interruption or interaction between client and facilitator.

The drawback comes when some clients do not like where the facilitator has placed their post-it note – sometimes even an inch or two can matter. If this happens, immediately revert to the method suggested in the Lite version of having the client place their own post-it notes.

A variation on this method is for the facilitator to number the post-it notes 1 to 6 and to place them in order. This helps keep track of where the client is in the process and allows the facilitator to refer to a space by its number. The disadvantage is that it emphasises the order in which the post-it notes were placed which may reduce the client’s sense of the web-like nature of the network.

To conclude the debate about naming or not, we recommend having a go at running the Lite process without naming to see how it works. Having tried out both methods for a range of clients  our default is to request a name for each space, have the client write it down and use that to mark the space.

Placing yourself in relation to the client and their network

An important choice you will need to be considering throughout the Clean Space process is, where do you place yourself in relation to the client and their emerging network? The options are to:

Stay in one place throughout.

Wait until they have settled in a space and then move next to or near them.

Follow the client around (not recommended unless you want to end up looking like Bo-peep).

After the client has placed them self in Space 1, ask them where they would like you to be. But remember, as soon as the client moves from Space 1 you may no longer be in the ‘right’ place and you will be faced with the decision about where to put yourself.

Your choice will naturally depend on the environmental conditions: how much space is available and how easy/hard it is to hear. But it must also depend on the client’s (nonverbal) reactions – be prepared to move (or be moved) at any moment.

In whatever way you do it, you need to be respectful of the client’s space and their perspective. This usually means keeping outside of the network as much as possible, and moving about as little as possible. If you are inside of the network and near the client we recommend remaining slightly behind them and out of their lines-of-sight.
There is no need for the facilitator to match the client’s body since it may well be counter-productive. In Clean Space we are more interested in the client having a relationship with the network and their own perceptions than with the facilitator. To aid this you should orientate your body to the network rather than to the client.


Role of instructions and questions
Delivery and timing
Preserving perspective - use of ‘there’ and ‘here’
Who knows – ‘you’ or ‘the space’?

In choosing what to leave in the Lite version we were mindful of two factors: for the client to do a minimum of processing to make sense of the question or instruction; and to encourage the client to report from the space they are currently occupying. The key to achieving this is to ask your questions and give your instructions from the client’s perspective.

Role of instructions and questions

Instructions and questions play a different and complimentary role. It is important not to mix them up. You can make life easier for clients new to Clean Space by making sure your instructions are clear, and not questions disguising an instruction. Notice the difference between:

And find another space.

And (not recommended):

Could you find another space?
Is there another space you could go to?
Would you mind finding another space?

‘And find another space’ gives a clear directive. The client’s choice is focussed on the location of the space. In the other examples the client might start considering whether they can find a space or not. This is an added and unnecessary ‘load’ on the client. And how would you respond if they answer ‘no’? Of course there are ways to handle such a response (see 'Responding to the Unusual' below) but you do not want to encourage them!

The instructions in Clean Space are ‘clean’ because they are simple, straightforward and only contain spatial presuppositions. There are no client-content presuppositions and no references to the facilitator (as in ‘I was wondering, can you find another space?’).

An important concept in devising a Clean Space instruction or question is, to use Wendy Sullivan’s term, the ‘load’ it places on the client. The load depends on the amount of mental gymnastics required to make sense of a question or instruction. It is also a function of the kind of choice the client has to consider in order to make a decision. Choosing the load is a balancing act because if your question/instruction is too specified, or it is too open it can increase the load. Consider the following:

a. Return to [gesture to one of the marked spaces].

b. Return to another space.

c. Which space would you like to return to?

d. Is there a space that would like you to return to it?

We suspect that for most clients the processing load increases from (a) to (d).

a. Requires no decision by the client

b. Instructs the client to pick a space to go to.

c. Asks the client to decide and only implies they should go to it.

d. Requires the client to consider if they should return to any of the spaces, and if so they would need to decide which one, and then to go to it.

In the design of the Lite version we have also taken into account the load on the facilitator.

Delivery and Timing

There are some choices you cannot avoid – and most of them relate to how you deliver your questions and instructions. This in turn will have a major impact on the timing of your interventions and the overall flow of the process. For example:

- How quick/slow to say the words?
- Which words do you emphasise?
- How much gesturing do you do?
- Where do you place your gaze?

And you will need to consider:

- How do you know when the client has finished talking/processing?
- How long to pause after they have finished talking/processing?
- How many questions to ask in each space?
- How much talking/process do you ‘allow’?
- When is the client ready to move on?

Overall, you can expect the process to take a minimum of 30 minutes (40-50 is more common) depending on:

- How much client says.
- How many spaces are revisited.
- How many other spaces are referred to from each space.

Preserving Perspective - Use of ‘there’ and ‘here’

Clean Space questions help to orientate the client by making frequent use of “from there”, e.g.:

And what do you know from there?
And is there anything else you know from there?

 It is also acceptable to use “from here” instead as long as the client is clear that ‘here’ refers to where they are and not where you are:

And what do you know from here?'

Whether you use ‘there’ or ‘here’ when referring to the space currently occupied by the client is likely to be a function of your location relative to the client:

When you are standing at a distance, it will usually be easier for the client to make sense of ‘from there’  

Whereas when you are close to the client, it will be more congruent with the client’s perspective to say ‘from here’

Having said that, even when you are far from the client it is possible to use your voice tone and gestures to say 'What do you know from here?' in such a way that the client knows your ‘here’ is ‘there’, where they are.

If a client needs extra support to keep the spatial nature of the process in the foreground (rather than, say, the content of their story) you can incrementally increase the spatial references in your question as follows:

... from there                     ... from here
... from that space              ... from this space
... from that space there      ... from this space here

Who knows - ‘you’ or ‘the space’?

Both the Lite and the Basic processes contain ‘And what do you know?’. In the Basic version an additional question is available:

And what does this space know?

We have restricted the Lite version to first question for three reasons: To keep the process simple; To lessen the load on the facilitator in having to decide which to use when; and because ‘And what does this space know?’ can sometimes seem a strange question to clients going through Clean Space for the first time.

When you are comfortable with facilitating the Lite version ‘as is’ we encourage you to experiment with asking ‘And what does this space know?’ because some people answer this question with different information to ‘And what do you know?’.

This question creates a dilemma for the facilitator similar to the ‘there’ and ‘here’ choice discussed above. Do you ask:

And what does this space know?
And what does that space know'?

Again, your choice will probably be a function of your location relative to the client. Also 'What does that space know?' can encourage the client to separate themselves from the space they are occupying. If that is your purpose you are more likely to achieve that in two steps:

And find another space that knows something else about this space.
[client moves]
And what do you know from here about that space there?


Repeating back
Using client content as process cues
Keeping spaces to separate kinds of experience
In Clean Space Lite we have removed all references to the client’s content. This has two consequences. It enables the facilitator to get to know the essence of the process without the complication or distraction of the client’s content. And it minimises the possibility of the facilitator’s personal preferences influencing the client’s process. As soon as client content can be referenced, the facilitator has dozens if not hundreds of choices to make. Each extra choice increases the chance of the facilitator’s stuff creeping in.

One of the by-products of not referencing client content is that you will have very little to remember and there is no need to take notes. This frees you to concentrate more on the client’s nonverbal responses. These will indicate when a client is ready for the next question, when they are ready to move to another space, where they have ‘hot spots’ (emotionally-charged spaces), and where their ‘sweet spots’ are (spaces which generate numerous insights).

We strongly recommend that before using the client’s content you facilitate the Lite version several times without using any client words. You will find that you have a different role to play than in traditional content-based facilitating. And you will likely discover just how much the client can do on their own.

More experienced facilitators may choose to make use of the client’s content. Below we give some guidance on how to do that in way that support and potentially enhance the Lite version.

Repeating back

Some facilitators like to repeat back the client’s words to build rapport. Our words sound different when said by someone else and this may encourage the client to reflect on what they have just said in a new way. However, repeating the client’s words not only slows down the process, it also means the facilitator has to decide:

Which words to repeat: all, some, only the last ones?
When to repeat: after each pause, before each question/instruction, just before leaving a space?

Furthermore the Clean Space facilitator does not require the same kind of rapport as is common in traditional counselling or coaching. The rapport comes from timing your instructions and questions to the rhythm of the client and directing their attention in relation to the configuration of the network. In this respect the process could be said to be ‘network-centred’ rather than ‘client-centred’. (See 'Delivery & Timing' and 'Placing Yourself' above.)

Using client content as process cues

To help you decide when to incorporate client content we have devised some guidelines which aim to retain the essence of Clean Space and keep it as free as possible from your personal preferences.

As a facilitator your options are to:

a. Give an instruction which includes client content

b. Ask a question about client content outside the current space.

c. Ask a question about client content within the current space.

Chances are (a) will retain more of the essence of Clean Space than (b), which in turn will retain more than (c). Therefore we recommend you primarily stick to (a) and (b) and we give examples below.

Using client content within the current space makes the process more akin to a Clean Language process. This can be used to good effect but it requires the facilitator to really keep their wits about them when managing the process, see Joining Up the Work of David Grove for some examples.

In Clean Space you want to make use of client content in a different way to how it is used in, say, Clean Language. Instead of modelling the client’s story and internal process we recommend you scan their words for what we call “process cues”. That is, verbal clues that can guide the direction of the process and inform you what to do next.

(a) Giving an instruction which includes client content

When the client’s content includes a reference to a space that has yet to be located we recommend you utilise it with one of the following formats:

And find a space that’s [client’s spatial reference].
And go to [client’s spatial reference].

Three examples:

C:    I need to be closer to my goal.

F:    And find a space that’s ‘closer to your goal’.

C:     I need to be elsewhere.

F:     And go to ‘elsewhere’

A client wanted to be “as far away from everything and everyone as possible.” And so James gave the instruction:

And go to ‘as far away from everything and everyone as possible’.

They moved out of the room, down a corridor and to the far end of the bathroom. James then cupped his hands around his mouth and spoke in a voice that suggested he was very far away; as if attempting to throw his voice across a large space:

And ... what ... do ... you ... know ... from ... t - h - e - r - r - e - e - e?

Removal of ‘And where is’ option

In the “Locating a New Space” routine in our 2003 model one option was to ask:

And where is [new location referenced by client]?

It was used when a client said something that indicated the existence of another space that has not yet been located. In the following example the clue to the existence of another space is in the client’s words “not here”:
C:    There’s a part of me that’s not here.
F:    And where is that ‘part that’s not here’?
C:    Outside of all this.
F:    And where is ‘outside of all this‘?
C:    [Client looks around] Over there. [Client moves]

Now we think it easier just to say:

And go to that ‘part that’s not here’.

Or use a less direct instruction:

And find a space that knows something else about that ‘part that’s not here’.

(b) Asking a question about client content outside the current space

Some of the most important content to notice is when a client refers to a group of spaces. It is important because it indicates that the client has ‘moved up a level’ from knowing about individual spaces to knowing about the configuration of the network. Almost every reference to a configuration will be a metaphor. Common examples to listen out for are:

line, arc, circle, square, triangle, link, connection, edge, boundary, gap, etc.

Later we describe how you can develop the form of these metaphors with Clean Language, but for now we will concentrate on using them only with Clean Space instructions.

Once these configuration metaphors appear you should immediately reference them to acknowledge their existence;

And is there anything else you know about that [configuration metaphor] from there?

And keep directing the client to attend to these metaphors as they move around the network:

And what do you know about that [configuration metaphor] from here?

For example: TO BE ADDED





Occasionally the whole network of interconnections can coalesce into a single metaphor, as happened in the following case:

C:    I think there’s a centre to this whole thing.

F:    Go to that ‘centre’.

C:    [Slowly turning to view the whole network of about 15 spaces] It’s like I’m at the centre of a dome or a sphere with thousands of lights. [Long pause while they continue slowly turning, eyes closed, head pointing upwards.] I ... I ... This is it ... This is ... everything there is ... I’m inside a giant universe of ... [client finally comes to a halt]

F:    And is there anything else you know from here about that ‘giant universe’?

C:    [Looking around] Nope.

F:    And return to [gestures to Space 1].

C:    [Moves to Space 1.]

F:    And after all that, what do you know from here now?

C:    [Looks at their original outcome statement and bursts out laughing.]

Keeping spaces to separate kinds of experience

In the initial stages of establishing the network your aim is to keep the information in each space fairly self contained. This is one of the main reasons why you only ask two (and at the most three) questions in each space. The longer the client stays in a space the more they will likely access a whole range of information, and eventually end up with what David Grove called “an undifferentiated information mass”. This is contrary to the whole purpose of the initial phase of Clean Space – to differentiate information.

Clients who find differentiating information a challenge can benefit mightily from Clean Space. If a client starts to bring in different kinds of information, respectfully instruct them to describe their latest perception in another space:

And find a space that knows about [newly introduced client content].

For example,

F:    And what do you know from here?

C:    I really want that goal.

F:    And is there anything else you know about [gesture to statement/drawing]?

C:    It could change my life. Funny, that reminds me of when I was five ...

F:    [Interrupting] And find another space that knows about five.

Also, if a client seems to be talking from a different space than the one they are occupying, you can move them to that space with:

C:    Here I am really confident. Over there [points to a previous space] I’m full of doubts [pause]. I’m beginning to wonder if I am really that confident?

F:    Here you are confident. Return to ‘over there’ [points to a ‘full of doubts’ space].

[Client moves]

F:    And what do you know from here about ‘if you are really that confident’ there [gestures to ‘really confident’]?

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