Phil Swallow has pointed me to his new discussion forum for exploring Metaphor, Clean Language, Clean Space and Symbolic Modelling. The forum looks like it will turn out to be a terrific resource if people use it. Probably the quickest way for me to explain “Clean Language” is to quote Phil from the FAQ section:
The word ‘clean’ is a metaphor. In this context, it represents the intention of the facilitator to keep their own stuff as separate as they can from the client’s stuff, where ‘stuff’ equals ‘metaphors, opinions, suggestions, orders, analysis, comments’ and so on.
I think it’s worth making the point that when we are being ‘clean’, it IS our intention to influence our clients – we do not pretend to be invisible or outside of the process. [JE emphasis]
The way we intend to influence them is by directing their attention to aspects of their own experience, to help them to model themselves. With the understanding of self that that brings, their system can self-organise to create the kinds of experience they want to have. […]
James Lawley describes what ‘clean’ represents more elegantly and accurately in his post What is Clean Language?.
For a contrasting analysis, try this critique of Symbolic Modelling from a meta-states / neuro-semantics perspective. by L. Michael Hall. Although very supportive of the work in developing the use of metaphor:
The book and model of these authors is a good one and adds much to the NLP model by enriching it, integrating current research in Cognitive Linguistics, systems, and brain research. It enriches the modeling we do in NLP and NS also as it opens up yet another way to model experience and excellence by listening to and exploring the Metaphorical Landscape that people live in.
he also says:
As much as Grove and these authors [Lawley & Tompkins] may want to believe that such questions keep the results “clean,” they do not. They cannot. These are the words that invite people to invent all kinds of things that was not there before. Yes, focusing on the person’s words and symbols does create a focus on a single event, and to some extent explores the person’s mental world, but it also invites creating things by that very focus. The symbolic domain, like all facets of consciousness, changes and transforms by the very accessing of it. All memories are like that. With every re-accessing of a memory, the memory will change.
I think Phil’s more recent definition (quoted in bold above) reflects this critique and shows how the understanding within the metaphor community may have developed – I’d be interested in his view on this…