Article from

First published in New Learning, The Journal of the NLP Education Network, Issue 8, Autumn 2000

Book Review by Michael Mallows

REVIEW OF: Metaphors in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling
by James Lawley and Penny Tompkins
ISBN 978-0-9538751-0-8 published by The Developing Company Press

I need to declare an interest: I admire, respect and love James Lawley and Penny Tompkins. They are warm, funny, sensitive, honourable, crative people and good friends who constantly pursue their own development, with a fierce determination to serve their client' best interest.

These qualities are evident in their work with groups and individuals and in METAPHORS IN MIND, their first book, which offers a 'tool for profound analysis and insight' to give your students, clients, patients or colleagues an opportunity to discover how their symbolic perceptions ar organised and what needs to happen for them to change.

Symbolic Modelling, which evolved from Penny and James linking cognitive linguistics, self-organising systems theory and (of course) NLP, with the innovative therapeutic work of David Grove, author of 'Resolving Traumatic Memories'. David realised that many clients naturally describe their issues (problems/symptoms) in metaphor and, if their exact words are used when enquiring about the symptoms, their perception ('map') of the problem/trauma begins to change.

The Heart of Symbolic Modelling is Clean Language. Key components of Clean Language include the full syntax, nine basic questions, the required vocal qualities and nonverbal metaphors. Although the book has a therapeutic bias, Clean Language will serve anyone (parents, teachers, managers), who want to listen better, ask questions more skilfully, and communicate more effecively.

The five main chapters explain theory and background knowledge about metaphor, modelling and self-organising systems, give extensive clients transcripts, and describe various applications of Symbolic Modelling and the basic questions, philosophy and methodology of Clean Language.

Any professional whose work requires that they understand and influence others without imposing their own version of 'reality' or violating the student, client or colleague will find this a useful, stimulating addiction to their library and metaphorically speaking, their box of tools, their palette, their box of tricks.

© 2000 Michael Mallows


Michael Mallows is a management trainer and consultant, and a psychotherapist with a background in Transactional Analysis, NLP, Co-Counselling and the Enneagram. He is the author of The Power to Use NLP, and co-aurhor of Peace of Mind is a Piece of Cake. He can be contacted via and  

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