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Current Clean Research

compiled by James Lawley (updated 1 March 2017)

Below is a list of current researchers and their research projects where the topic (content) or the methodology (process) draws upon Symbolic Modelling, Clean Language or any other clean approach derived from the work of David Grove.

The list is far from complete, if you can add to the list or wish to amend anything please contact me.

Here is a list of articles published in academic and professional journals that involve clean approaches and the work of David Grove.


Jackie Calderwood, doctoral researcher at Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

Topic: Pervasive Media, Commons and Connections: Research as Reflective Studio Practice at Banff

Article published in Reviews in Cultural Theory,

Article: Calderwood-Pervasive_Media_Arts_Participation_Practice_Well-being.pdf

Watch the video 'Soundlines: Locative Media Research - using digital media in research with children and young people' produced as a case study for Glasgow University's website:

Karen Hanley PhD candidate at Brighton Business School, University of Brighton , UK.

Working Title: "Age 65 and over? Thinking about retirement – or being effectively engaged in the labour market?

The factors that influence employment choices amongst older employees in Denmark and the UK."

I am at the research design and methodology stage, and thinking of re-drafting the research question in a 'clean' way, having read Paul Tosey's article. At the moment it's about investigating the enablers and hindrances to being employed after age 65, using the working life course as my underpinning theory and biographical methods - probably narrative inquiry.

Sabine Harrer is undertaking a PhD at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, University of Vienna, Austria.

She is using Symbolic Modelling to answer the questions: How can the experience of loss and mourning be communicated through digital game design? How can the voices of grieving people be made tangible through game mechanics, rules, and game fiction? Her PhD project aims at contributing to our analytical and hands-on understanding of experiential game design. 

See her article where she explains how draws on the work of Lawley and Tompkins [2000] in CHIPlay 2014 - Participatory Design for Serious Game Design. Download from:

Heather Cairns-Lee, PhD candidate, School of Management University of Surrey.

Topic: An Exploration of Leadership and its Development Through The Inner Worlds of Leader.

Research questions: (1) What can leaders learn about their leadership
and development through an exploration of their 
inner worlds through metaphor? (2) How can the exploration of self-generated metaphor contribute to leadership development?

Papers: An Exploration of Leadership and its Development Through The Inner Worlds of Leader. Presented at University Forum for Human Resource Development (UFHRD) June 2013.

Lara Just, post-graduate researcher.

Topic: Psychotherapist use of client-generated metaphors using Clean Language as an effective tool for brief psychotherapeutic change. Details at:

Mohammed Karolia & Rob Burton, University of Huddersfield, UK

Topic: `Metaphors we teach by’: An exploration into how HE lecturers reflect on and conceptualise their experiences of teaching via the use of clean language interviewing model of exploring metaphors

Abstract of paper presented to The Third International Neuro-Linguistic Programming Research Conference, Hertfordshire University, 6-7th July 2012: abstract-Karolia-Burton-2012.pdf

Tania Korsak
I have been very interested in this application of clean for some time, now. Clean language is in my view an extension of participant observation skills used by anthropologists. Over the last couple of years, I have been using clean to gain an in-depth understanding of how parents cope with severe epilepsy in their children. My anthropological study, “How to manage the impossible?” is carried out under the auspice of the Necker Hospital in Paris and the support of a French charity, ASD (alliance syndrome de Dravet).

The research is now in its third and final stage, I am discovering how these extended clean facilitation are having a triple effect:
1. empowering parents to cope with the difficulties
2. identifying the different stages parents go through when confronted with this illness
3. modelling successful outcomes and metaphors likely to bring new awareness to parents who are having difficulties coping .
The sum of these points will hopefully support parents and doctors gain further understanding in the care of these children.
Jakub Lanc, Jan Nehyba and others at the Faculty of Education, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
They are involved in a project the goal of which is to increase the quality of education of the teachers for the primary and secondary and high schools through reflective practice (ca. 800 students participating).
Part of the project is also researching the nature "Acquisition of tacit knowledge of student teachers during their teaching practice" 2013-2016 headed by Prof. Vlastimil �vec.
They have concluded CL/SyM could be really valuable tool for their endeavours - the reflective practice as well as the research.
Susie Linder-Pelz and James Lawley
Dr Susie Linder-Pelz's study of the benchmarking of coaching skills (2012) identified the need to study how coaching clients experience and evaluate coaching, and how that compares or contrasts with coaches' behaviour and level of competency. Linder-Pelz, the principal investigator, has invited James Lawley and Dr Michael Hall to collaborate in an innovative research project based around the questions:

1. How do coachees' evaluate coaching sessions?

2. Do clients' evaluations relate to the performance of the coach?

3. How do clients' evaluations compare and contrast to the coaching methodology's beliefs about what makes for effective coaching?

4. Is Symbolic Modelling/Clean Language useful for exploring how clients evaluate a coaching session?
  • Two or three certified Meta-Coaches will each be randomly assigned two or three new clients who are unfamiliar with the Meta-Coaching process.
  • Each client will have one coaching session of up to 1.5 hours
  • A few days later, each client will be interviewed by a Clean Language/Symbolic Modelling expert for their evaluation of the session.
  • A few weeks after that, each client will have a second interview reflecting on their evaluation and the clean interview process.
  • Independently, a Meta-Coaching benchmarking expert will review a video of each coaching session and assess the performance of each against the published benchmarking criteria.
  • The output from the interviews and benchmarking will be compared.
Jonathan Lloyd
Expects to complete his Professional Doctorate in Counselling, School of Education, Faculties of Humanities, University of Manchester in 2015.

Paper: The Use of Metaphor in Counselling and Qualitative Research Interviews (2011)
Alexandru Ioan Manea - PhD Candidate (2016-2019) at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Romania
Title: Mental Space Theory. Individual and Group Personal Development Interventions, Indigenous Cultural Model - Coordinator: Professor Iolanda Mitrofan.
Description: This PhD Thesis focuses on the research of Mental Space and Visuo-Spatial representation theories elaborated by Gilles Fauconnier and Barbara Tversky and on therapeutic approaches based on these, such as Social Panorama, Clean Language and Clean Space in optimizing the performance of newly formed teams in the industrial-organizational environment.  This is a premiere for the Romanian academic level regarding the use of Tversky’s and Fauconnier’s researches and also of Clean Language, Clean Space and Social Panorama.
Carol Wilson 
Topic: The application of clean in the workplace – in relation to introducing clean coaching into a major corporation – as part of a Doctorate in Professional Practice. Carol is at the dreaded writing-up stage.

James Lawley

James LawleyJames Lawley offers psychotherapiy to individuals and couples, and coaching, research and consultancy to organisations. He is a co-developer of Symbolic Modelling and co-author (with Penny Tompkins) of Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling, (with Marian Way) Insights in Space: How to use Clean Space to solve problems, generate ideas and spark creativity and an Online training in Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling. For a more detailed biography see about us and his blog.

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