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Further Comments

Below are comments posted to the site on the above discussion:

  • Comment #1 (Posted by Maarten Aalberse, 7 Apr 2011)

    I posted this on my Face-book page, and also want to post it here:
    "Good to see that folks of different NLP-related schools can have a relevant, creative and respectful discusssion... that had become all too rare!
    With my thanks to Steve, Andy and James."

    Comment #2 (Posted by Maarten Aalberse, 7 Apr 2011)

    "Where's the action in the client statement?" Yes, and when we zoom in to "there", this will "activate" the client. In this context it may be relevant to remember that in behavior-therapy models "exposure" and "behavioral activation" are the best established factors of change. And SyM faciltates both of these processes from the bottom up, I'd say.

    There seems to be an interesting difference between "going where the action is in the metaphor" and asking the client:
    - And what do you do with.... X?
    - What have you done until now when... X?"
    - And how did that work out?.
    There's probably a place for both styles, and it would be helpful to specify which approach would suit best in which circumstances.
  • Comment #3 (Posted by Joe Fobes, 7 Apr 2011)

    You said: "Given that I witnessed a client of Frank's suffer a severe negative reaction both during the session and, they reported, for several weeks after, I consider Frank's failure to answer this question unethical. I am not suggesting what Andy is doing is as impositional as Provocative Therapy, but I am saying that when any method relies on introducing content the facilitator should have ways to know when that is inappropriate for the particular client since any method that is influential enough to get beneficial results must also have the capacity to produce harmful results."

    I wonder about that. If I have a methodology which might indeed harm 1 out of 20 clients, yet gets results in a fifth the time of method B (and method B presumable doesn't harm any clients), well then that might be a tradeoff worth making.

    We drive cars even though we might very well crash and die...

  • Comment #4 (Posted by Maarten Aalberse, 8 Apr 2011)

    A bit as a follow-up to Joe's post: since there's often no wxay of knowing beforehand how a client will respond to an "intervention", I consider it crucial that therapists know how to respect the client's feedback, (even when this is it times very painful for the therapist, but that's his pain and for him to take care of) and to proceed from there.

    We also have to weigh in the costs of a "too careful" attitude: costs in effectiveness, costs in respect - we may treat our clients as more fragile than they are, and that can be aggravating; prudence can be just as "offensive" as intrusiveness...
  • Comment #5 (Posted by Maarten Aalberse, 10 Apr 2011)

    Some of this is also related to what's often described under "the role of therapist's self-disclosure by the therapist". From what I understand of Clean, this is to be minimalized (of course it is not possible to not-self-disclose). At heart I think this is related to a "one-person" model of psychotherapy which, despite all the mentioning of systemics, seems part of the Clean model "of information" - which in itself is a metaphor that deserves to be questioned...). But when we consider us primarily as human beings-in-relationship, the role of therapist's self-disclosure can be seen in a different perspective.

    A nice short article about this:
  • Comment #6 (Posted by Maarten Aalberse, 11 Apr 2014)

    What I would hope is that we get clearer on "when / with whom" to do what. Surely more Provocative approaches have their place, as does Clean. And surely (?), both have their limitations, too...
  • Comment #7 (Posted by Maarten Aalberse, 11 Apr 2011)

    My guess is that, if I dichotomize (and thus oversimplify) a bit, the "provocative" and the "clean" ways of working with metaphors do lead to different outcomes, i.e. clients feeling better, but better in different way... And not only *feeling* better, but *doing* better.
    And we'd need good research to get clearer on those differences. Such research is IMO anyway necessary in the NLP-field, if it doesn't want to choke in its own "mastery" with each selling their own product. Which is why this beginning of a discussion between James, Andy and Steve is so important. But IMO, finally we have to move even further than that, and really start to do the research.
  • Comment #8 (Posted by James Lawley, 11 Apr 2011)

    Thanks for all your comments Maarten - much appreciated.

    Re. comment #6: I agree about getting clearer on "when / with whom" as long as we remember we are talking about individuals and as Aristotle said: There is no science of the individual. However, the point I was trying to make is that we also need criteria that can be applied in real-time for "when our method is, and particularly, is NOT working".

    I'd also strongly agree that "more Provocative approaches have their place", and I agree that all approaches have their limitations. I would add: Surely all facilitators have their limitations too. The point is, can we admit it? And can we seek to identify when those limitations are being approached?

    Despite several direct questions of Frank and of other leading Provocative practitioners at the event, the idea of limits and limitations was not addressed.

    Gregory Bateson noted that ANYTHING done to excess will be harmful to the system. How do we know when we are nearing that threshold?
  • Comment #9 (Posted by Maarten Aalberse, 11 Apr 2011)

    Hi James,

    I love the Aristotle quote and... would add that there is a science of (developmental/ therapeutic) process-patterns. Which makes it possible to have this knowledge of key-processes somewhere in the background, and the individual person in the foreground. This as a basis for hypotheses about "which key-processes need to be catalysed with this unique person"? This could also serve as a basis for evaluating the ongoing process, similar to what you mention as the need for clearer criteria.

    One way of building bridges between "Andy-land" and "James-country" which I find helpful is to ask, when the therapist has chosen to respond in a confrontive/ provocative/ self-disclosing way,: "and when hearing... (the therapist's statement), that is like what...?" And then to develop the metaphor that comes as a response to that question. If necessary, this can lead to good "repair" after an unintended "rupture". Can be challenging though, to hear that it was for instance "like a rattlesnake", as once happened to me. At those precise moments I find the Clean approach very helpful, as it also helps me to (not necessarily consciously) digest my own responses and differentiate between my subjective response and that of the client.
  • Comment #10 (Posted by Jennifer de Gant, 1 Aug 2012)

    Inspired by Metaphors of Movement and Symbolic Modelling: a discussion of differences and similarities by James Lawley, Andrew Austin and Steve Andreas, I would like to add my thoughts to the discussion. I come from a background in NLP in the 80's in the USA with Steve and Connirae Andreas and in France with Gene Early then after helping to launch NLP in France and enjoying many years as an NLP Trainer, in the late 90's I met David Grove and then James Lawley and Penny Tompkins who launched Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling in France.

    In looking back over the continuum of 'getting down and dirty' with a client's language and behaviour and 'staying clean and content-free' so my client can find his own thinking and acting, I have certainly experimented across a wide spectrum, starting with my excitement at the daring of the early NLPers to challenge long therapeutic processes that seemed to stop at insight without caring for behavioural change, to my present awareness of the effectiveness of minimalist interventions through the power of six downloads! I too am interested in the wisdom of Bateson's remark that anything taken to excess is harmful to the system and so James's question 'How do we know when we are nearing this threshold?'

    One answer that comes to mind is, it depends on the environment the facilitator has lived and worked in. I have a lot of respect for those who, like Andrew, have worked extensively in the milieu of "difficult, uncooperative and chronic patients". Like many people I met in the USA in the first Sub-Modalities Course in Boston with Steve and Connirae, who were ex-drug addicts or alcoholics and who were turning back to the environment they knew so well with the power of what NLP had brought them. The power of the belief that anyone could learn to change was a unique gift from America at that time. The environment of struggle and challenge understood and surpassed is the unique field for a facilitator's success. What is learned deeply and personally can be coded and handed on to others. All of this was enormously inspiring.

    My own field was less dramatic a path through family constraints, insecurities about jobs and relationships and yearnings for a spiritual path to a better world. In the work of David Grove, I found the sensitivity and depths of Jungian Therapy matched with much clearer and more direct ways to accompany a troubled mind through the traps of dissociation, fantasy and illusion. Working with David was always working with presence, we were far from 'staying out to avoid contamination': the closeness to the client was energetic, electric, all-encompassing and all we used were questions directing their attention to their metaphors, their body movements, their sudden silences. This way they met themselves and those lost and forsaken parts they needed to grow.

    So when I think of for whom this 'clean' facilitation would be useful, I think of all the people who have been bullied by other people's interference in their thinking and feeling by abusive or well-meaning parents and educators, all those who have learned to be compliant and to seek advice from anyone rather than face their own processes, those who got lost in dissociative fantasies in lonely childhoods, those who do not even know they have an inner world to balance with all the outer activity that is pushed upon them.

    I am thinking of the example of a woman who had always been bullied by her parent's opinions and who inevitably chose a husband to do the same and who taught her children to bully her too. Maybe she would have responded to a 'dirty challenge' from a therapist, we will never know, but she certainly did respond to the perhaps slower and more winding road of only having her own thoughts to deal with in her interaction with her therapist. Feldenkrais has put this rather well I think, the moment when a person is no longer firing off their anxiety driven dependency pattern has an immediate effect on the body-mind which allows the environment to be experienced as present and actual instead of as remembered threat. In my experience this removal of threat is taught by the discipline of clean language.
  • 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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