First published in Rapport, journal of the
Association for NLP (UK),
Book Review by Bob Janes
REVIEW OF: Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic
by James Lawley and Penny Tompkins
ISBN 978-0-9538751-0-8 published by The Developing Company
I've read a lot of NLP books over the last eight years, many of
them very good. However, few of the recent ones seem to me to add
significantly to the field. Metaphors in Mind is a rare exception.
Many of you will know that Penny and James have spent a large part of
their time over the last five years in exploring and modelling the
work of David Grove, an American-based therapist. In this work they
have trodden squarely in the footsteps of the modelling of Fritz
Perls, Virginia Satir and Milton Erickson that led to the foundation
of NLP. And they have gone beyond their modelling to construct both a
therapeutic model and to open new doors to the understanding of
The book is addressed to therapists of any persuasion who are
interested in knowing more about engaging with the metaphors of their
clients' language. The underlying methodology that Penny and James
use and describe here is that of 'Grovian Clean Language' and the
book includes a complete introduction, primer and lots of example of
The book is in five main parts: 'Background Knowledge', which sets
the context for thinking in terms of metaphors, both in establishing
the terminology and setting the work in relation to other writers in
this area; 'The Heart of Symbolic Modelling', which introduced Clean
Language; 'The five-Stage Process', describing the process they and
their clients use; 'In Conclusion', looks briefly at applications of
Clean Language in non-therapeutic settings (I can see a few more
books in the offing here); and lastly three 'Annotated Transcripts'
of client sessions (two of these are used extensively to illustrate
the main body of the book, it's good to be able to see them here in
I see this as a major work, both in extending the field we know as
NLP and, more broadly as a contribution to the whole field of talking
therapy. Whilst Penny and James have drawn deeply on NLP methodology
in their modelling the resulting work is relevant to any 'talking
therapy' that acknowledges the inner processes of the client. Maybe
here is another one of the stepping stones that are linking NLP to
the developing fields of cognitive therapy and cognitive psychology.
I hope so.
You will have gathered that I recommend this book to you.
© 2000 Bob Janes