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Part 4
Adapted model for
coaching Symbolic Modelling in-the-moment

While we admired Vivian’s bottom-up approach to learning to clown, we also saw how a similar model could be used in the development of Symbolic Modelling skills.

Parallels between clowning and Symbolic Modelling:

 Scene created by clown
 Client’s Metaphor Landscape
 Audience’s reaction
 Client’s reaction to their ML

Two applications came easily to mind:

To give a novice Symbolic Modeller a chance to experience how the process flows and unfolds from the position of facilitator (rather than observer of a demonstration).

To give more experienced Symbolic Modellers the opportunity to experience how someone else, equally experienced, manages the process.  We would expect this would encourage the facilitator to notice their own patterns of facilitation and to enjoy the benefits of doing it someone else’s way.

Both of these applications involve a Director/Coach giving offers to the Facilitator who is working with a Client.

Your Aim as Director is:

To offer the facilitator a place to go. Your purpose is to guide them to facilitate the client to attend to somewhere in their Landscape.  It is not to tell the facilitator what question to ask or to do the process for them.  It is to coach the facilitator by directing their attention.

To insert comments in such a way that the facilitation is continuous and the facilitator maintains attention on the flow of the client’s information (and not on you).  If a physical intervention is appropriate (e.g. encouraging the facilitator to sit back) it needs to cause minimal disruption to the client-facilitator process.  In the version of the model where the facilitator does not know when or how often the director will make a comment (so they will need to be considering their own direction in case none is given.)  The timing of your intervention is particularly important.

To take into account the facilitator’s training and experience so that the director’s comments are in the facilitator’s “zone of proximal development”, i.e. within their next step (e.g. Where are they on the Dreyfus’  ‘Novice to Expert’ model?). Therefore do not use jargon that the facilitator is not familiar with.

To give direction so that the facilitator does not have to think (much) about what they need to do to accept your offer.  Watch out for ambiguity, e.g. client says “I want to trust more”, director comments “Develop more”!!

To monitor your rapport with the facilitator; and the facilitator’s rapport with the client; and the client’s rapport with their Metaphor Landscape.  Body matching may help at times, but not too much as you need to keep a good proportion of your attention outside the client-facilitator process.  Remember Vivian says: “Your role is to keep the space safe ... for everyone”.

Not to praise, correct or give the facilitator the right thing to do.  It is to give their system a chance to experience following a different path (e.g. saying ‘Yes, yes’  and ‘Keep going’ carry less judgement that ‘Good’.).

Not to foster dependence on the director.  This is particularly so in the version of the model where the director makes interventions every time the client finishes processing.  Do not give the facilitator specific questions to ask so they will have to make a choice about how to implement your offer.  On the other hand, it is not a quiz and the facilitator should not be trying to guess what is in your head; therefore saying “Specialist Question” is not that helpful because this gives the facilitator too many options to pick from.  

Not to rescue the facilitator or make the process more efficient or to give the client a good experience.  It is for the facilitator to learn about the process, how they facilitate, and to experience a different way to facilitate.  For example, facilitator turns to you as director and says “I need help”, rather than reply “ Ask what would you like to have happen?”, say “Pick something and keep going”.

Not to provide interpretations, e.g. “Bring him out, he’s getting lost in it.”

Initial Placement

It is probably best not to sit in the eye-line of the facilitator as they may be inclined to look at you.  You could ask the facilitator where they would like you to sit.  However you need to focus on the facilitator-client process, and this may be best done by looking at the facilitator and client from the side. Even though this process is a supervisory/training process and not primarily for the client, you may have to take into account the lines-of-sight of the client when deciding where to sit.  So, some negotiation may be necessary.

Clean Directing

The purpose of directing is for the facilitator to pay attention to something and then to do something (e.g. ask a question) related to where their attention has been, e.g.:

Stay with ...
(Your question wasn’t answered.) Ask it again.
Slow down.
Look at the symbol / their space.
There’s a problem / remedy / outcome / resource.
That’s a metaphor / Necessary Condition.
That’s [or client’s words] a concept / relationship / feeling.
Now there’s a change.
Keep developing [client’s words].
Develop that ...
Go for that attribute (or client’s word).
Pay attention to that ...
Ask the symbol.
Where is it?
Location ...
Locate it.
How does that affect [symbol name]?
Pull back / Move time back.
Relate to their outcome.
Let’s get a sequence.
[Repeat implicit metaphor]
Ask its intention
Go back to ...
[Nonverbal, e.g. Sh-h-h-h or Finger to lips = don’t interrupt.]
Go for the [nonverbal] movement.
Bring it to a close.
[Repeat client’s words (marking out some with emphasis)] .

Example of an intervention:

Facilitator:    And what would you like to have happen?

Client:    I’d like to revisit a really calm place I haven’t visited for a while.

Facilitator:    [Reflects back.]

Director:    “Place”

Facilitator:    And is there anything else about that really calm place?

Client    It seems like a really long way away right now.

Director:    Stay with location.

Facilitator:    And whereabouts is that place when it’s a really long way away right now?

Client:    Over there [gestures] and I don’t know why I don’t go there more often.

Director:    Stay “over there” [gestures].

Facilitator:    And what kind of place is that place over there?

Client:    It’s where I need to be, but something stops me.

Director:    Locate “something”.

Facilitator    And whereabouts is that something that stops you?

Client:    In the middle of my chest [touches chest].  At my core.

Director:    Develop what’s there.

Director’s comments during one 10-minute facilitator-client practice session
(where offers  were given intermittently):

Shorten question
“Coming through intellect”
Stay with whole metaphor
Intention of “colander”
Develop “missing ingredient”
Yes, yes.
Keep tracking back.
“Two streams come together”
Yes, yes.
Draw this to a close.

Director’s comments during another facilitator-client practice session:

Develop that symbol
Relate to original outcome
Move time forward
Mature it
Move time forward
Recap and bring in the body
Penny Tompkins & James Lawley
Penny and James are supervising neurolinguistic psychotherapists – first registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy in 1993 – coaches in business, certified NLP trainers, and founders of The Developing Company.

They have provided consultancy to organisations as diverse as GlaxoSmithKline, Yale University Child Study Center, NASA Goddard Space Center and the Findhorn Spiritual Community in Northern Scotland.

Their book,
Metaphors in Mind
was the first comprehensive guide to Symbolic Modelling using the Clean Language of David Grove. An annotated training DVD, A Strange and Strong Sensation demonstrates their work in a live session. James has also written (with Marian Way) the first book dedicated to Clean Space: Insights in Space. Between them Penny and James have published over 200 articles and blogs freely available on their website:
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